DPP CONSIDERING FILE ON IRA SPY DENIS DONALDSON MURDER CASE

The last picture of Denis Donaldson at his reomote cottage in Donegal

The last picture of Denis Donaldson at his reomote cottage in Donegal

THE DIRECTOR of Public Prosecutions in the Republic is considering whether or not to bring charges in the case of Denis Donaldson, an inquest was told on Thursday.

The former IRA and Sinn Fein chief was shot dead by dissident terrorists in Donegal more than six years ago.

Donaldson had confessed to spying for police Special Branch and secret service MI5 just months before he was killed.

The 56-year-old was murdered in his remote home at Classey, Cloghercor, outside Glenties on April 4, 2006.

He had been operating as a British spy for 20 years and was shot four times in the chest, face, arm and hand in a rented cottage.

Although there have been three arrests relating to Donaldson’s brutal murder, nobody has ever been charged in connection with it.

Two were arrested in Donegal and a third man – a leading dissident – in Derry.

Supt Michael Finan told an inquest in Letterkenny today that a file on the Donaldson killing had been submitted to the DPP.

Further information had been sought by the DPP and given to him by Gardai, he said.

The case was adjourned until September at which point Coroner Denis McCauley said he hoped to be in a position to have a pre-case hearing, if there weren’t any charges brought.

Witness statements in the case were handed in by a state solicitor to the coroner today.

The family’s solicitor Ciaran Shiels told Mr McCauley that they “took some comfort” from the terms of reference in which a future inquest would take place.

This would include an examination of Mr Donaldson’s life whilst living in the North as well as information on all who met him in the days before his death in the Co Donegal cottage.

In January, it was revealed that the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland is to revisit the murder of MI5 Denis Donaldson over claims police officers may be linked to his death.

Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire overturned a previous decision by his predecessor Al Hutchinson to shut down the investigation and rule there was no misconduct by officers.

Belfast Daily revealed in November that Gardai investigating his murder still had not interviewed a vital witness to the shotgun murder.

He had gone into hiding after police told him the media were preparing to expose his secret life as an informer.

The Real IRA said it was responsible but his family alleged that police officers may have exposed him as an agent and contributed to his death.

Three years ago the then Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson said there had been no police misconduct and declared the case closed.

But a BBC Spotlight investigation in October 2011 revealed investigators had not interviewed a special branch officer who Mr Donaldson’s family believe may hold vital information about what happened.

After his murder, Denis Donaldson’s family alleged that police officers who knew about his secret role may have exposed him as an agent and contributed to his de

They were also unaware he had been writing a journal which his family believe could contain clues about who killed him and why.

The current ombudsman, Michael Maguire, confirmed on Wednesday that he has launched a new investigation.

It is understood investigators will seek access to the journal, which was removed by Garda officers investigating the killing, and to interview the special branch officer.

Donaldons had moved out of his Belfast home a few months before his death, and had been living in the run-down cottage which had neither electricity nor running water.

Murder scene..aerial shot Denis Donaldson's Donegal cottage

Murder scene..aerial shot Denis Donaldson’s Donegal cottage

Four months earlier, he had been expelled from Sinn Fein after admitting being a paid British spy for 20 years.

Gardia in Donegal are still investigating his murder and hunting those behind his shotgun killing.

Belfast Daily revealed two months ago that an important witness has not been interviewed by gardaí investigating the murder of Sinn Féin spy Denis Donaldson in Donegal, an inquest heard yesterday.

Senior gardaí told an inquest in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, in November that a file had been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and they anticipated a decision on whether to pursue the criminal case within four months.

Fiona Doherty, a barrister for the family, told the inquest: “The family does welcome the fact that a file has been submitted, if only because it means there has been some progress in the case.

“However, the family have had ongoing contact with the gardaí about the progress of the investigation and they are concerned about the manner in which the investigation has been carried out.

“There has been one witness in particular that they know has not been spoken to by the Garda, a witness they regard as very, very important.”

Lawyer for the police, Stephen Byrne, said it had been a good investigation.

“There is nothing to suggest, any evidence to suggest, that there has been anything other than a proper and bona fide criminal investigation carried out and that is a matter of record and it has resulted in a file being submitted to the DPP, which is a step I would have thought the family would seek to encourage in the hope that whoever is responsible is brought to account in the proper forum, in a criminal court,” he said.

Donegal coroner Denis McCauley has opened the inquest into Mr Donaldson’s death 10 times and each time it has been adjourned.

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 power-sharing executive between unionists and nationalists collapsed and Government restored direct rule to the North a week later.

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.

The coroner said his investigation would focus on five areas:

:: Mr Donaldson’s life and experiences in the UK, including his work and his supposed exposure and the fact he was recognised to be an informer;

:: What happened in the time leading up to his flight to Donegal and his death;

:: His interaction with gardaí, given that he was a vulnerable person at risk;

:: How he died;

:: The investigation into his death.

 

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