December 17th, 2005
Sinn Fein British Spies info
Senior republican Denis Donaldson, one of the three men who had Stormont spy ring charges against them dropped last week, has confirmed he acted as a British agent for the past 20 years. The statement from the former senior Sinn Féin official came just hours after party president Gerry Adams, at a hastily convened press conference in Dublin, said Mr Donaldson (55) had admitted he was a British spy.Gerry Moriarty, Mark Brennock and Mark Hennessy report. |
Mr Donaldson's admission caused shock among republicans and prompted Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to urge the British government to explain what he termed the "bizarre" Stormontgate affair.
A Government spokeswoman said last night that Mr Ahern did not rule out seeking an inquiry into the issue, "independent of everyone", but first wanted to hear the British account of the affair.
He was due to make this point to British prime minister Tony Blair early this morning at an EU summit press conference in Brussels.
Last week, the North's Public Prosecution Service controversially dropped the spy-ring charges against Mr Donaldson and two other men on the grounds that it would not be in the public interest to proceed with the case.
The so-called Stormontgate affair involved police raids in October 2002 on Sinn Féin offices in Stormont and on a number of other premises in Belfast following a PSNI investigation into an alleged republican spy ring at Stormont. Large quantities of documents were seized. David Trimble described the affair as "10 times worse than Watergate". The North's executive was suspended 10 days later.
Mr Adams said last night that PSNI officers called to Mr Donaldson's west Belfast home on Wednesday to warn him he was shortly to be "outed" as a spy and that his life was in danger.
Mr Donaldson, with his solicitor present, issued a statement in Dublin last night to RTÉ. He said he deeply regretted his "activities with British intelligence and RUC/PSNI Special Branch" and insisted there never was a spy ring in Stormont.
"I was not involved in any republican spy ring at Stormont . . . It never existed. It was created by Special Branch," he said in his statement.
Earlier, Mr Adams said the alleged spy ring "was a carefully constructed lie created by the Special Branch".
The Northern Ireland Office insisted last night a spy ring had existed. "We completely reject any allegation that the police operation in October 2002 was for any reason other than to prevent paramilitary intelligence gathering. The fact remains that a huge number of stolen documents were recovered by the police. As a result of the recovery of these documents, a large number of people had to be warned."
Mr Ahern wants an explanation of the Stormontgate affair to be provided at a scheduled meeting next Monday between the Northern Secretary Peter Hain and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern.
Mr Adams said that he had no previous suspicions about Mr Donaldson who was effectively his senior official based at Parliament Buildings. Mr Donaldson's exposure as a British agent is bound to reawaken republican anxieties over the Stakeknife affair.
While former senior IRA figure Freddy Scappaticci was revealed as Stakeknife, there are lingering republican fears that Stakeknife is an amalgam of highly placed republicans who had become British agents.
"My name is Denis Donaldson. I worked as a Sinn Féin Assembly group administrator in Parliament Buildings at the time of the PSNI raid on the Sinn Féin offices in October 2002 - the so-called Stormontgate affair.
"I was a British agent at the time. I was recruited in the 1980s after compromising myself during a vulnerable time in my life.
"Since then I have worked for British intelligence and the RUC/PSNI 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 in Stormont. The so-called Stormontgate affair was a scam and a fiction. It never existed. It was created by Special Branch.
"I deeply regret my activities with British intelligence and RUC/PSNI Special Branch. I apologise to anyone who has suffered as a result of my activities, as well as to my former comrades, and especially to my family who have become victims in all of this."
Is this going to throw a spanner in the peaceworks mates? I worry as an outsider that the peace accords will be tarnished and some members of the republican side will reject the agreements as suspect since this bloke was a senior member of SF. What say you who are closer to the ground?
"The purpose of fighting is to win. There is no possible victory in defense. The sword is more important than the shield and skill is more important than either. The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental." - John Steinbeck