Sunday 21 January 2018

Gardaí await PSNI's help on murder of Sinn Fein spy Denis Donaldson

Denis Donaldson
Denis Donaldson

Greg Harkin

Gardaí are still awaiting 'material' from the PSNI in their investigation into the murder of Sinn Féin spy Denis Donaldson, a court has heard.

A coroner yesterday adjourned the inquest into the death of the informer for the 16th time, but refused a garda application to adjourn the case for six months.

Donegal coroner Denis McCauley told Supt Michael Finan that he would only accede to a three-month adjournment this time.

Mr McCauley said he "shared the family's frustration" at the delays in the case.

Mr Donaldson (56) was shot dead at a cottage at Classey, 8km from Glenties in Co Donegal, on April 4, 2006.

Five months earlier he had admitted working as an agent for MI5, passing republican secrets directly to the British government.

A former IRA member from Derry who now controls a dissident group in the city is the chief suspect in the killing.

Donaldson's family refused to attend yesterday's sitting of the coroner's court at the Mount Errigal Hotel.

In a letter read to the court, their solicitor Ciaran Shiels said his attendance "serves no useful purpose" as the family had only been told on Tuesday that gardaí were seeking a further adjournment.

Mr Shiels said he had been told by gardaí that they were still awaiting "material sought from outside the jurisdiction".

Mr McCauley asked Supt Finan that in future the family should be informed well in advance of the next hearing on December 9 of garda intentions on the day.

Supt Finan said gardaí were following "new and significant" lines of inquiry "which may lead to new evidence coming forward".

The senior garda said a file was still with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and argued it was "essential that all evidence goes to the DPP".

He added: "There are genuine legal reasons for asking for the adjournment. It isn't possible to give a definite date for the receipt of this material (from the PSNI)."

Mr McCauley refused an application for a six-month adjournment, agreeing to a three-month delay in the case instead.

He said he was aware of the sensitivities of the Donaldson family in the matter.

Gardaí have arrested two men as part of their investigation into the murder.

Both men - then aged 39 and 61 - were questioned at Letterkenny Garda Station in 2011 but released without charge.

The Real IRA in Derry claimed responsibility for the killing in a statement released three years after the shooting.

Irish Independent

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