Who killed Denis Donaldson?
Few have dared to consider British involvement.
Danny Morrison, Guardian, 5 April 2006
Denis Donaldson's death, after his being unearthed as an agent, would not
have come as a shock several years ago. Traditionally, the price of
informing on the IRA has been execution. But last year the IRA, in laying
down its arms, formally announcing an end to its armed struggle and
exhorting its volunteers to work politically for the organisation's
objectives, certainly eschewed action such as a revenge killing.
Ian Paisley's DUP, in particular, by blaming "Sinn Fein/IRA" and alleging
continued IRA activity has exploited Donaldson's death as a golden pretext
for the DUP's continued opposition to power sharing and the Good Friday
The republican movement had nothing to gain by killing Donaldson. It needs
peace in order to bed down the Agreement and work the all-Ireland bodies
established by it. Crucially, Sinn Fein needs peace to expand on its
flourishing electoral base in the south of Ireland and perhaps hold the
balance of power in a future coalition. It certainly does not need a fresh,
brutal reminder of the old days.
For the IRA to be linked to Donaldson's death would completely undermine its
strategy. Nevertheless, the DUP and sections of the media, largely because
of their own bias, claim his killing could only have been carried out by the
IRA. Others allow for the possibility of IRA volunteers acting unofficially,
individual republicans or dissidents aiming to scupper the peace process on
the eve of a major announcement about the future of the Assembly by the
British and Irish premiers in Armagh.
Few in the media or among mainstream political parties have dared to
consider British involvement.
Denis Donaldson, for whatever reason, would not reveal to his former
comrades how the British "turned" him into becoming an agent, nor the detail
and extent of his betrayal. He was a liability and still had secrets about
Stormontgate, amongst others: dangerous secrets which could potentially
damage his British superiors.
Why would British involvement, rogue or otherwise, seem so fantastical? We
know that members of British intelligence and the Special Branch ran
loyalist murder squads; that as far back as the 1970s the Garda Siochana
were infiltrated by the British; that during the conflict they allowed their
agents in the IRA - such as "Stakeknife" - to kill. They allowed other
agents to kill soldiers and policemen in order to establish and maintain
their subversive credentials. In a desperate attempt to thwart Sir John
Stevens' inquiry they even burned down his offices! It was certainly a dirty
The media is so conditioned to be hostile to the republican movement that it
does a disservice to the public by not exploring all the possibilities,
however unpalatable the possible conclusions. Why doesn't some MP ask the
British prime minister in the House of Commons if he can he rule out the
possibility of state involvement in the assassination of Denis Donaldson?