State ‘obstructing’ inquiry into death of Denis Donaldson, family says

Former Sinn Fein official confessed to spying just months before he was killed in Donegal

The family of the late Sinn Féin official Denis Donaldson has accused the State of wilful obstruction in the investigation of his death nine years ago. They also accused the gardaí of failing to protect the family's rights in the investigation.

The statement from their solicitor preceded a resumed hearing – the 15th – of the inquest into Mr Donaldson’s death.

Mr Donaldson (56) was shot dead by gunmen in a rural cottage near Glenties in Co Donegal . The Real IRA claimed responsibility for the killing.

The former senior Sinn Féin official had confessed to spying for police Special Branch in Northern Ireland and secret service MI5 just months before he was killed. The family had been informed on Friday the State was seeking a further adjournment.


The statement from Madden and Finucane, solicitors, 20 minutes prior to the resumed inquest said: “For the family, the wilful obstruction of another law enforcement agency’s investigation into the circumstances behind Denis’ death serves to further underline that the interests and rights of the Donaldson family are not respected or protected by the gardaí.”

Madden and Finucane added that gardaí had repeatedly given assurances in relation to the scope, timeline and expected duration of their investigation together with when the Director of Public Prosecutions would ultimately direct on their submitted file.

The statement continued: “As this latest adjournment application underlines, many of those undertakings have been proved to be utterly worthless and highlight the failure to hold the gardaí to account for their conduct of this investigation.

“Claims have also been made in relation to the readiness of the Gardaí to co-operate with the investigation currently underway by the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland into the circumstances surrounding the death of Denis Donaldson.

“Despite good faith efforts by the PONI investigation team, including meetings with senior gardaí, the family understand that gardaí continue to withhold from the Ombudsman a copy of Denis’ journal that was being prepared by him immediately prior to his murder.”

A garda spokesman said on Wednesday said the investigation into Mr Donaldson’s murder was “active”.

“It is not appropriate for An Garda Síochána to comment on an ongoing criminal investigation. An Garda Síochána are committed to bringing the investigation to a conclusion as expeditiously as possible and will co-operate insofar as legally possible with all statutory/law enforcement agencies. The investigators continue to liaise with the family of the late Mr Donaldson.”

No member of the Donaldson family was present at the Letterkenny inquest. Coroner Dr Denis McCauley said he had received a letter from the solicitor saying no discourtesy was intended by the non-attendance and they accepted he had to agree to the request for a further adjournment.

Dr McCauley added that he had adjourned last year because he was satisfied the gardaí were making progress in their criminal investigation.

Supt Michael Finan told the inquest an ongoing criminal investigation was continuing. The inquiry team was awaiting important information which was held up by a legal delay.

He said he would be hopeful of developments if there was a further four-month adjournment.

The inquest was adjourned until September 2nd.