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Gardai pursue a fresh lead in Donaldson murder probe
06 February 2009 --
Gardai investigating the murder of double agent Denis Donaldson are pursuing a
new line of inquiry almost three years after the killing.
The senior Sinn Fein figure, who had been operating as a British spy for 20
years, was found dead in his remote home at Cloghercor, near Doochary in Co
Donegal on April 4, 2006.
He had been shot four times in the chest, face, arm and hand in the cottage,
situated 8km from Glenties.
Superintendent Eugene McGovern sought and was granted a further adjournment of
the inquest for a further year yesterday to facilitate the ongoing
Supt McGovern told the coroner’s court that since its last sitting eight months
ago, gardai had begun pursuing “another avenue of investigation” regarding the
death of Mr Donaldson, which was not completed.
He added that the Assistant Garda Commissioner had spoken to the Donaldson
family about the new line of inquiry.
He said that while these matters were being advanced, gardai did not feel they
would be able to progress the investigation significantly in the short term.
Ciaran Shiels, solicitor for the Donaldson family, said the family was still
anxious for the inquest to take place.
He confirmed that the assistant commissioner had met with the Donaldson family
and had indicated that another potential avenue of investigation had emerged.
Mr Shiels agreed that gardai should be allowed reasonable time to pursue this
line of inquiry but he added that if in a year’s time matters had not been
progressed, the family would be pressing for a date to be fixed for the inquest.
Coroner Dr Denis McCauley granted the adjournment, saying that the ultimate
desire would be that a perpetrator would be identified and charged.
He said that if the garda investigation was still active in a year’s time he
would consider a further adjournment.
Counsel for the Garda Commissioner, Stephen Byrne, acknowledged the forbearance
of the Donaldson family for whom the situation became more difficult with each
The inquest, which opened for the third time yesterday, has now been adjourned
until February 2010. Following a previous inquest, Mr Donaldson’s family said
their confidence in the garda investigation had been so severely undermined that
they had lodged formal complaints.
Among their concerns was whether or not Mr Donaldson had been adequately warned
about any perceived threats to his life.
They also had concerns about whether the cottage where he had been living had
been under electronic surveillance by gardai.