Belfast Telegraph

Man to be charged over murder of former Sinn Fein worker Denis Donaldson - family play down development

Mr Donaldson was shot dead at a remote cottage in Donegal in 2006 after admitting he had been an agent for the security forces.

A suspect is being sought over the murder of former Sinn Fein worker Denis Donaldson (PA)
A suspect is being sought over the murder of former Sinn Fein worker Denis Donaldson (PA)

A man is to be charged by Irish police over the murder of a former Sinn Fein worker who was unmasked as an MI5 spy.

Denis Donaldson was shot dead at a remote cottage in Donegal in April 2006.

His family’s solicitor Ciaran Shiels played down the development, saying the person in question was serving a lengthy prison sentence outside Ireland and was unlikely to be available to be brought to court for 10 years.

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An aerial view in 2006 of the house near the village of Glenties, Co Donegal, where Denis Donaldson lived and was murdered (PA)

Mr Donaldson’s murder came months after he admitted that he had been an agent for MI5.

The 55-year-old was a former Sinn Fein director of elections and close friend of hunger striker Bobby Sands.

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.

A long-running inquest into Mr Donaldson’s death at Donegal Coroner’s Court has been adjourned several times to facilitate Garda inquiries into his murder.

On Wednesday it emerged at the inquest that the Garda had sought a warrant from the special criminal court in Dublin for the arrest of an individual to bring him before the court to be charged with murder.

A Garda spokesman said they requested the inquest proceedings be paused while a fresh criminal investigation is launched.

“At a sitting of Donegal Coroner’s Court today, 3 July 2019, An Garda Siochana sought a remand into the inquest into the death of Denis Donaldson, in accordance with section 25(2) Coroners Act 1962,” he said.

“As criminal proceedings have been initiated in this case, An Garda Siochana is not making any further comment.”

Mr Shiels said Mr Donaldson’s family remain focused on establishing the truth of what happened to him.

“We are mindful of the fact that the individual who may face charges is not physically amenable to Gardai and he is currently serving a massive prison sentence outside of the jurisdiction,” the Donaldson family said in a statement.

“Following his release from custody, he faces an additional three-year supervisory release in that jurisdiction. Therefore, even with a fair wind, it is highly unlikely that any criminal proceedings might meaningfully be commenced until a further decade at least passes by.

“Today’s ‘breakthrough’ has now been publicised just as the final report by the Police Ombudsman is due to be released to the Donaldson family. Despite this, our interest remains establishing the truth.”

PA

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