Britain exposed IRA mole Donaldson to taunt Provos
Published 04/06/2011 | 17:00
MURDERED Sinn Fein official Denis Donaldson was outed by the British government as a spy to send a message to Provisional republicans that it had a more valuable informant within its leadership ranks.
The startling claim was made by former Justice Minister Michael McDowell, according to a secret dispatch sent to Washington by US embassy officials in Dublin.
Donaldson -- the former head of administration for Sinn Fein at Stormont -- hit the international headlines in December 2005 when he admitted he had worked as an informer within the Provisional movement for many years. He was shot four times -- in the chest, face, arm and hand -- at his remote cottage at Cloghercor, near Doochary, Co Donegal, on April 4, 2006.
Gardai believe he was a victim of a Real IRA hit squad.
A leaked cable sent from the embassy in May 2006 reported on separate talks held by US officials with ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and his advisers, the then Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern and his officials and Mr McDowell and senior officials from the Department of Justice.
The Taoiseach noted 2006 had been a very positive year, particularly in terms of progress in the republican community.
He pointed out there was increasing engagement on the ground between the PSNI and republican areas of Belfast.
The only negative republican events had been the murder of Donaldson, the robbery of a shipment of alcohol and the discovery of a 250lb fertiliser bomb in Lurgan.
The Taoiseach maintained, according to the cable, that these incidents were the work of breakaway republicans who were not connected with the Sinn Fein leadership.
He told the then US ambassador, James Kenny, Sinn Fein seemed surprised and shaken by the Donaldson murder.
During one of the discussions Mr McDowell outlined his belief that the outing of Donaldson as an informant was "a clear message from the British government that it had another, more valuable, source of information within the republican leadership". However, Mr McDowell reiterated the Taoiseach's point that Sinn Fein leaders appeared to have had no connection to Donaldson's "murder".
The garda investigation into the murder remains "live" and last month two men, including a 70-year-old, were arrested in connection with the killing. The two were released without charge. Donaldson's family had earlier raised concerns about the PSNI and garda investigation, saying more could be done to probe the circumstances surrounding his death.
The family had previously issued a statement stating they did not believe that the Provisional IRA was responsible.
Suspects include associates of republicans who had been "shopped" by Donaldson, maverick republicans who might have targeted him for personal reasons, or those holding hardline beliefs that all spies should be killed.