DEATH OF A DOUBLE-AGENT
The murder of top republican informer Denis Donaldson has caused
political shockwaves amid intense speculation about his killing.
Four months after being revealed as a British spy, Donaldson was found
shot dead at his remote County Donegal hideaway yesterday evening.
Suicide is not suspected, according to an autopsy report.
The Provisional IRA denied it had any involvement in the murder, while
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and other republican leaders strongly
condemned the killing.
The once highly respected republican figure had been living a meagre
existence in an abandoned and isolated cottage once used by the IRA as
a 'safe house' for its Volunteers.
Following a morning break-in, Donaldson was killed by at least one
Many republicans believe Donaldson's former handlers in the British
Crown forces may have ordered his murder after the controversial figure
came clean about his role as a top-level informer within the republican
movement last year.
In December, the high-ranking Sinn Fein official admitted in a press
conference that he had passed information to British intelligence and
police in exchage for money for over twenty years.
Donaldson had been outed in suspicious circumstances after his trial in
the notorious 'Stormontgate' incident was suddenly abandoned. The
double-agent had ironically been charged with running a spy ring on
behalf of the IRA at Stormont parliament buildings, where he ran Sinn
Fein's offices. It was later confirmed he had been secretly working
for police Special Branch at the time.
It is now understood that the cryptic individual, known as 'a charmer',
had come to be distrusted by his handlers before he was suddenly
exposed before Christmas.
His appearance at a press conference to admit his double life and
express regret at his actions marked the end of his connection with
British forces. Mr Donaldson said that he had
been recruited at a vulnerable time in his life,
and admitted he had been paid money for his information.
While outraging republicans, the admissions may also have made
him even more dangerous enemies.
There has been some speculation that 'maverick' republicans,
disaffected from the peace process, may have ensured Donaldson would
not escape punishment for his betrayal. Parallels have been drawn to
the impromptu killing of another informer, Eamon Collins, who was
beaten to death during a remote country walk in South Armagh in January
But here was no evidence, as was initially claimed, that the double
agent had been abused before his death, which was described by Gardai
police as well-organised and clinical.
It is now being credibly suggested that Donaldson was killed by his
former handlers in retribution -- and in fear that he would reveal
further secrets from the 'Dirty War', possibly including the identity
of other informers.
The murder comes at a crucial time for the peace process, as the Dublin
and London governments prepare to launch a political project involving
the reanimation of the Belfast Assembly.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said on Tuesday those responsible were
"enemies of the peace process".
"I want to condemn without reservation the murder of Denis Donaldson,"
At the time of his exposure, Mr Adams assured Mr Donaldson that he
would face no threat from republicans.
Speaking at a press conference on the former site of Andersonstown
police station in west Belfast, Mr Adams said he lives in the hope that
such killings "should be a thing of the past".
He also offered his sympathies to the former Sinn Fein official's
family, describing them as "decent people and decent republicans as
well," Mr Adams said.
"I condemn without reservation this very brutal killing. I extend my
condolences to the Donaldson family."
Mr Adams said that he was keeping an "open mind" about who was
responsible for the murder.
"I disassociate Sinn Fein and all of the hundreds of thousands of Irish
republicans who support the peace process from this killing. I am
keeping a very open mind," he said.
"Denis Donaldson did work for Special Branch, there was messy, dirty
Mr Adams said those who had carried out the killing were "enemies of
the peace process."
"All of these killings and all of these different acts should be an
incentive for politicians to get on with the peace process," he said.
"We live in the hope that killings like this should be a thing of the
"I feel sorry for his family. Any killing of this nature is a killing
too many. I feel particularly for his family.
"His family are decent people and decent republicans as well.
DUP leader Ian Paisley expressed scepticism at the IRA denial of
responsibility and said the killing could be another reason to reject
"There are serious talks that are going to take place and I would say
that this has put a dark cloud over those talks.
"If this man has been murdered because of his connection with IRA/Sinn
Fein and because of the past happenings then it strikes a blow at what
the two governments are trying to do - to say that the IRA has forsaken
these ways and they are seeking peace."
Speaking in the Dublin parliament, 26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
said gardai had visited him in January and advised him that, because of
his circumstances, there was a perceived threat to his life.
"They offered him advice on his personal security and gave him a
telephone number for Glenties Garda station in case he had any
concerns. The house where he lived received passing attention from the
Garda on an ongoing basis.
"It should be noted that Mr Donaldson did not at any time request Garda
assistance or protection since that period in January."
The mother of a County Tyrone teenager has spoken of the pressure
placed on her family after the PSNI police tried to recruit her son as
an informer last week.
The teenager was too frightened to be identified. He said he had been
harassed by the PSNI since he refused to provide information about his
neighbours after being arrested for an alleged driving offence last
The young man said the PSNI had detained him last week near his home
for failing to wear a seat belt. The 18-year-old from Cappagh was taken
to a PSNI station in Armagh when he was urged to supply information
about events in the area where he lives.
He was told that he could get penalty points and advised that he could
After he refused, the PSNI gave him a ticket and released him.
"I'm afraid to leave the house because, every time I go out, I am
stopped," said the young man.