Thursday 14 December 2017

Donaldson family take case to Europe over inquest delays

An aerial view of the dilapidated house near the village of Glenties, Co Donegal, where former Sinn Fein member and British spy Denis Donaldson lived and was murdered. Photo credit: Paul Faith / PA
An aerial view of the dilapidated house near the village of Glenties, Co Donegal, where former Sinn Fein member and British spy Denis Donaldson lived and was murdered. Photo credit: Paul Faith / PA

Greg Harkin

The family of Denis Donaldson is taking Ireland to the European Court of Human Rights over the failure to conduct an inquest into his death a decade after the murder.

Solicitors Kevin Winters or Ciaran Shiels have represented the family at 15 adjourned hearings in Letterkenny.

On each and every occasion lawyers representing the Attorney General have been present at the Coroner's Court representing the State.

Each time the inquest has been adjourned at the request of gardaí on the grounds that there is an ongoing criminal investigation.

However, the Donaldson family's lawyers believe the delay has breached Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which says there should be fully independent investigations of killings by the state.

"The family are simply at their wits' end. In the absence of any satisfaction from the Coroner's Court, the director of public prosecutions or the gardaí, they have been left with no alternative but to go to Strasbourg," said Mr Shiels after announcing a family boycott of future adjournments last year.

The family have always accepted that there was no role by the Provisional IRA in the murder.

But they have questioned the role of the PSNI in the affair, including the circumstances of the outing of Donaldson as a spy.

"We remain deeply concerned about the role of some PSNI officers who have held senior intelligence and investigative roles who may hold detailed information about the circumstances surrounding Denis's murder," said the family in welcoming a new Police Ombudsman probe.

"The acid test will be whether these serving and retired police officers, and others, fully co-operate with this investigation by the (previous) Police Ombudsman.

"We are determined to hold these individuals to account."

The new probe followed a previous inquiry which found no police malpractice.

However, the current Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire reopened the investigation after discovering Donaldson's handler 'Lenny' hadn't been interviewed.

Irish Independent

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