Northern Ireland news

Man to be charged with Sinn Féin MI5 agent Denis Donaldson's murder

The family of Denis Donaldson (centre) - pictured in 2005 with the late Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams - have said they are dismayed at further delays in the inquest.
Rebecca Black, Press Association

A man is to be charged by Irish police over the murder of former Sinn Féin worker Denis Donaldson.

Mr Donaldson was shot dead at a remote cottage in Donegal in April 2006. It came months after he admitted that he had been an agent for the British security forces.

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.

Mr Donaldson was a former Sinn Féin 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 Féin's Stormont office.

The powersharing executive collapsed and direct rule was restored to the north a week later.

Read More: Book suggests there were republican concerns about informer Denis Donaldson in late 1980s

In 2005, charges against three men were dropped and within days Sinn Féin 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.

Today 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, 03 July 2019, An Garda Síochána 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 Síochána 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."

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