Belfast Telegraph

Fingerprints of Gerry Adams critic found in Donaldson murder cottage

By Greg Harkin

A veteran republican was questioned by police about the murder of Denis Donaldson after his fingerprints were found inside the cottage where he was shot dead, it has been learned.

Donaldson (56) died after he was hit with two blasts from a shotgun at the family-owned cottage seven kilometres from Glenties, Co Donegal, in 2006.

His death came almost four months after the Sinn Fein fixer admitted working for the British for the previous 20 years.

A BBC programme this week carried claims by another former spy that the murder would had to have been sanctioned by Gerry Adams, who later described the allegations as "lies".

The Real IRA, which has plotted to kill Adams on at least three occasions, claimed responsibility for the Donaldson murder. Now it has emerged that gardai recovered the fingerprints of veteran Belfast republican Victor Notarantonio after the cottage killing.

It is understood the prints were recovered from a painting Donaldson had been working on at the time of his death.

When gardai failed to get a match for the prints, they were sent to the PSNI, which confirmed that they belonged to Notarantonio, an outspoken critic of Gerry Adams.

When Notarantonio was questioned by police in Northern Ireland, he claimed to have visited Donaldson at the cottage four weeks before the killing.

He vehemently denied any involvement in the murder, insisting he was a friend of Donaldson and that he had travelled to Donegal to seek his advice on a feud involving the Notarantonio family and another family in Ballymurphy at the time.

Notarantonio was released without charge.

Donaldson was interned in the 1970s with Victor Notarantonio's father, Francisco, who was later murdered by the UFF.

"Victor and Denis had remained friends despite the split caused by the peace process," said one source. "They weren't close, but they would have spoken to each other.

"Victor told police that he had been to Glenties to see Denis, but claimed they had only discussed a feud which was going at the time in Ballymurphy."

Irish detectives and their PSNI colleagues accepted the explanation given by Notarantonio for his visit and his account about how his fingerprints were recovered from Donaldson's painting.

Notarantonio has been an outspoken critic of the Provisional IRA, claiming they took sides in the family dispute in 2006.

A number of his relatives were later jailed after Gerard Devlin was stabbed to death outside his home in February that year.

Descendants of Italian immigrants to Belfast at the turn of the last century, the Notarantonios were known as staunch republicans.

Although no longer active with the Provisional IRA at the time, Victor's father Francisco was shot dead at his Ballymurphy home in October 1987. It later emerged that the UFF gang was directed to their target by the Army's controversial Force Research Unit after one of their agents inside the loyalist death squad - Brian Nelson - had originally planned a murder attempt on another descendant of Italian emigrants, Freddie Scappaticci, himself an agent codenamed Stakeknife.

The day that Denis Donaldson asked me to join the Provos, Page 27

Belfast Telegraph


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