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Denis Donaldson was killed in Glenties, Donegal in 2006.

Man to be charged with murder of ex-Sinn Féin official and IRA/MI5 double-agent Denis Donaldson

Donaldson was killed months after admitting that he had worked as an M15 agent for over 20 years.

LAST UPDATE | 3 Jul 2019

A MAN IS set to be charged over the murder of former Sinn Féin official and IRA double agent Denis Donaldson.

Donaldson (55) was shot dead at an isolated cottage near Glenties in Co Donegal in April 2006.

He was killed months after admitting, in 2005, that he had worked as an M15 agent for over 20 years. Donaldson had worked for Sinn Féin as an administrator at Stormont and was a former IRA member.

In a statement this afternoon, gardaí have said that criminal proceedings have been initiated against an individual and that as a result the inquest into Donaldson’s death has been adjourned.

Garda Superintendent Michael Finan today told the inquest, the 23rd adjourned sitting into Donaldson’s death, that he has received directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions in the case.

He told the inquest at Letterkenny Courthouse: “Acting on those directions proceedings have been instituted against an individual for the murder of Denis Donaldson”.

A warrant has recently been obtained from the Special Criminal Court for the arrest of an individual for the purpose of taking him before that court, where he is to be charged with Mr Donaldson’s murder.

“That is as much detail as I can provide in this matter at present.”

Barrister for the Garda Commissioner Stephen Byrne said the issue for the coroner’s court was now the length of time the case should be adjourned for.

He added that with any criminal proceedings they were erratic and nobody knew what was going to happen with this particular case.

Coroner Dr Denis McCauley said he was taking Byrne’s experience of criminal matters and adjourn the case until 23 September next year.

McCauley added: “This is a case that has been going on for quite a while and there has been doubt expressed about the validity and veracity of the garda investigation and I would like to commend the garda investigation.

At all stages I have been comfortable that the garda investigation has been active and I would like to compliment them and I’m sure the family would like to join me in commending the gardai.

Solicitor for the Donaldson family Ciaran Shields said that it is no secret the individual charged in connection with Donaldson’s murder is currently serving a long sentence outside of the State.

He said he estimates that it will be at least a decade before he completes that sentence and will be extradited back to Ireland for trial for Donaldson’s murder.

He added that Donaldson’s widow was now in her 70s and that potential witnesses in the case are also getting older.

In a statement this afternoon, Donaldson’s family said that this development could take some time before criminal proceedings are “meaningfully commenced”.

“We are mindful of the fact that the individual who may face charges is not physically amenable to gardaí and he is currently serving a massive prison sentence outside of the jurisdiction. Following his release from custody, he faces an additional three-year supervisory release in that jurisdiction. Therefore, even with a fair wind, it is highly unlikely that any criminal proceedings might meaningfully be commenced until a further decade at least passes by,” the family said in a statement released by Madden and Finucane Solicitors. 

In these circumstances, what should invite more public scrutiny is that the new phase in the garda investigation and the related criminal charges announced today have their genesis in an eavesdropping surveillance operation conducted by MI5.

“It has been the family’s consistent contention that officers in MI5 and PSNI Special Branch had exposed Denis as an agent.” 

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

Stephen Maguire