Questions arising…

This Donaldson story has the look of a news dump end of the week to it. We published at nearly twenty minutes to four on Friday afternoon, just before a press conference for a Belfast story took place in Dublin. It’s not surprising. Donaldson was considered one of the most senior players in Sinn Fein. And he’s been there long term, convicted for bombing as early as 1972 and part of Sinn Fein’s efforts to have hostage Brian Keenan released from his captors in Lebanon. We don’t know what the British security services know, but it’s hardly likely to be trivial.

His outing (last night?) follows that of Scappatici over two years ago, and reputed to be head of IRA’s internal policing unit. There are still allegations that he used his position to kill to protect other agents within the IRA. So far, that’s a count of two British spies in crucial positions in both the IRA, and Sinn Fein. It’s not inconceivable that there are still more beavering away inside the Republican movement.

Regarding the dropping of the Stormontgate, Blair’s Official Spokesman has said categorically, there was no political interference in this case from either himself or Hain. But it’s almost certain he was the beneficiary of the intelligence Donaldson was undoubtedly able to provide his government.

Questions we are unlikely to hear answers to:

– What information did he gather on the highly secretive decision-making process inside Sinn Fein?

– Has Donaldson got anything to do with the fact that the Chief Constable and Garda Commissioner are both certain that the IRA pulled the Northern Bank and other massive robberies?

– Or indeed, is this all a just big game of double, double bluff, played at the expense, primarily, of the public interest?

Keep watching this space for the next episode, coming at a time you least expect it.

Update: According to Sinn Fein, he’s been a spy for 20 years.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty