Belfast Telegraph

Gardai slammed over death inquiry

Police in Ireland have been accused of stringing along a coroner and the family of murdered IRA spy Denis Donaldson with bogus claims.

As the eighth anniversary of his killing at a remote famine cottage in Co Donegal approaches next week, lawyers for the family there is no bona fide reason for an inquest into his death not to go ahead.

In a statement issued through their legal team, the Donaldson family said their treatment is consistent with a series of scandals to hit the Garda force over the last few months and claimed some people involved in the controversies have had direct involvement with their case.

" The gardai are now stringing along the coroner's court and the family with bogus claims and a flagrant disregard for European Court of Human Rights obligations," they said.

"The effectiveness and independence of the investigatory process, and the completed Garda investigation, has lost any credibility," they said.

Mr Donaldson, 55, a senior Sinn Fein official and close colleague of party president Gerry Adams, was shot dead at an isolated cottage near Glenties in April 2006.

He had been living there since his exposure as an MI5 agent the previous year.

The Real IRA claimed responsibility for the murder three years later but the circumstances surrounding Mr Donaldson's outing and subsequent assassination have been shrouded in mystery.

The family said they have no faith in the Gardai and refused to attend the latest preliminary hearing of the inquest, the 13th since the killing.

"From the outset the Donaldson family have implored Gardai to rigorously investigate the role played by state agencies in the circumstances surrounding the exposure and killing of Denis," they said.

"Throughout that time, Gardai have refused to probe these concerns and admitted to the family that they closed the file on Denis's death without interviewing those members of Special Branch who were actively involved in events leading up to Denis' killing."

The Donaldson family said that at previous hearings they have heard explicit assurances that no further time would be required by either gardai or the Director of Public Prosecutions to examine the case.

The family claims lawyers for the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter have consistently contested their attempts to have the inquest heard.

They have instructed their legal team to take a lawsuit over what they claim are ongoing infringements of the human rights of the Donaldson family.

In November 2012 the inquest was told a file on the murder had been submitted to the DPP and a d ecision on a prosecution was expected within four months but no-one has been charged. Several arrests have been made.

The lawyers have said in the past that they are concerned about the murder inquiry and claimed an original Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman's investigation failed to interview Mr Donaldson's handler and was unaware of the existence of a journal which he kept.

The family said they are shocked and angered that the Gardai are refusing to cooperate with the revived ombudsman investigation into the killing and the family's concerns.

The family also claim detectives refuse to return the journal which contains some of Mr Donaldson's last writings.

The Donaldson family said they will not attend the inquest hearings being held approximately once every six months in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

The sequence of events surrounding his death dated back to 2002 after three men including Mr Donaldson were arrested following a raid on Sinn Fein's Stormont office.

The power-sharing executive between unionists and nationalists collapsed and Government restored direct rule to Northern Ireland a week later.

In 2005 charges against three men were dropped and within days Sinn Fein said Mr Donaldson was a British agent and expelled him from the party. He later said he had worked as a spy since the 1980s.

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