Inquest for Irish republican who was MI5 spy inside Sinn Féin adjourned
Death in 2006 of British agent Denis Donaldson, ‘political enforcer’ for Gerry Adams, has led to 903 lines of inquiry.
There are now more than 900 lines of inquiry relating to the murder of one of Britain’s most important agents inside the IRA and Sinn Féin, an inquest in the Irish Republic was told on Thursday.
At the 15th hearing investigating the killing of Denis Donaldson at a remote cottage in Glenties, County Donegal, eight years ago, a Garda detective revealed that the force was looking into 903 lines of inquiry and had interviewed more than 300 people.
No one has been prosecuted in connection to the leading Sinn Féin official, though the killing, in April 2006, was admitted by the Real IRA.
Donaldson was unmasked as a police and MI5 informer in the aftermath of raids on Sinn Féin’s offices at the Stormont parliament in Belfast. The veteran republican openly confessed at a Sinn Féin press conference that he had worked for the police and MI5 for 20 years.
The revelations about Donaldson rocked the republican movement because he was so close to the centre of power and was a close ally of Sinn Féin’s president, Gerry Adams. Adams had used Donaldson as his political enforcer who travelled around Ireland to ensure only potential candidates loyal to the party leadership would be selected for elections.
Michael Finan, a superintendent in the Garda, told the inquest sitting at Letterkenny court house in Donegal, that the force was seeking a further, long, adjournment of the inquest into Donaldson’s murder.
The solicitor for Donaldson’s family, who snubbed the hearing in March because of strong objections to continuing investigative delays, was again absent on Thursday. He sent Denis McCauley, the coroner in the case, a letter, saying that as the family knew the police were seeking a further delay there was no point attending.
McCauley said he had made it clear at the last hearing that, like the Donaldson family, he was interested in finality; he had raised the question of why he should not have a full inquest soon. He said, however, that on hearing of advances in the police criminal investigation, he was prepared to further adjourn the inquest proceedings until 18 February.
Donaldson was not only an important figure for the Sinn Féin and IRA leadership inside Ireland. At one time in the 1980s he was director of the movement’s international relations department.
He went to Lebanon in the 1980s and met Hezbollah officials to try to secure the freedom of Brian Keenan, the Belfast writer held hostage in Beirut for more than four years.
All the time Donaldson was representing Sinn Féin, whether in the US or the Middle East, he was working as a secret agent for the British.