Denis Donaldson

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Denis Donaldson was a former Sinn Fein official and informer for the British security forces, who was murdered in April 2006.


Three men, one of them Mr Donaldson, were arrested at the time - but late in 2005 prosecutors said they were dropping all charges "in the public interest".
That public interest became clear when days later Mr Donaldson confessed publicly to being a double agent, an admission that led to his immediate expulsion from Sinn Fein and republican circles.
In his statement in December 2005, Mr Donaldson confirmed that he had been a British agent at the time of the raid and he apologised to his "former comrades" and family.
"I was recruited in the 1980s after compromising myself during a vulnerable time in my life," he said. "Since then, I have worked for British intelligence and the [Police] Special Branch.
"Over that period I was paid money. My last two contacts with Special Branch were as follows: two days before my arrest in October 2002, and last night, when a member of Special Branch contacted me to arrange a meeting.
"I was not involved in any republican spy ring at Stormont - I deeply regret my activities with British intelligence and Special Branch."
At the time, Gerry Adams claimed that Mr Donaldson had spoken out because he was about to be "outed" by police officers determined to deflect attention from the raid. [1]


Donaldson was murdered in April 2006.[2]An inquest into his death was delayed for a second time in February 2009, after Gardaí said they were following a new line of Inquiry.[3]

The Real IRA claimed responsibility for the killing in Easter 2009.[4] The Irish News subsequently reported that the admission had been prompted by the progress of the police investigation.

security sources last night claimed the Real IRA had been forced to finally admit murdering Mr Donaldson after it emerged that one of its former members had passed on information about the killing to gardai and was now in protective custody in the Republic.
The former dissident is understood to have been taken into protective custody after leading detectives to the spot where the sledgehammer was hidden by Mr Donaldson’s killers in Donegal.[5]

Political reaction

Dean Godson suggested that in the wake of Donaldson's murder, Ian Paisley would delay any deal with Sinn Fein:

This latest atrocity has confirmed "the Doc" in his belief that republicans remain irredeemably attracted to the call of the wild and that Sinn Fein is still no normal political party. The ability of the DUP's "modernisers" - so admired by the Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Hain - to "deliver" their side of the bargain has dramatically diminished. Any deal is likely to be long fingered into the post-Blair era. And the future is a foreign country, where anything can happen.
The full story of Denis Donaldson, one of Britain's main agents inside Sinn Fein/IRA, will probably never be known. He certainly played the part of a dyed-in-the-wool Belfast sectarian with consummate skill. When I met him at Stormont, some years ago, the first thing he told me was: "My grandmother used to say: 'Burn everything British except their coal'.[6]


External Resources


  1. Obituary: Denis Donaldson, BBC News, 4 April 2006.
  2. Obituary: Denis Donaldson, BBC News, 4 April 2006.
  3. 'New lead' in Donaldson inquiry, BBC News, 6 February 2009.
  4. Suzanne Breen, How Real IRA killed Denis Donaldson, Sunday Tribune, 12 April 2009.
  5. Barry McCaffrey, Ex-RIRA man gives Donaldson evidence, Irish News, 15 April 2009.
  6. Will this murder end Blair's Irish gamble? by Dean Godson, Daily Telegraph, 6 April 2006.