Adams on Denis Donaldson’s murder

Following on from the conspiracy theory Danny Morrison promoted, Sinn F�in president Gerry Adams, writing in Village magazine, but picked up by the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog, also casts the net of suspects wider than the focus on republicans – either provisional, disgruntled or dissident. Meanwhile the Guardian’s leader picks out some previously expressed views on informers, including Adams’, before rowing in behind the ‘move along now’ line – as it did on the Stormont spy-ring case.From the Guardian leader –

The killer may have been an oppositional or a sanctioned republican or even – don’t rule this possibility out – a provocateur whose loyalties lay elsewhere. Mr Donaldson’s place in Northern Ireland’s secret war, whether in life or in death, was a hall of mirrors. History and culture, however, point strongly to some species of republican vengeance. Mr Donaldson confessed in December that he had been a British spy inside Sinn F�in for 20 years. The torture and killing of informers – or “touts” – are indelible parts of the historic culture of violent republicanism. The murder and possible mutilation of Mr Donaldson look like an act in that tradition; in terms of established republican ethos, he had it coming.

By the destruction of informers, the legendary IRA leader Michael Collins once said, the very air is made sweeter. “For myself,” Collins went on, “my conscience is clear. There is no crime in detecting and destroying, in war-time, the spy and the informer. They have destroyed without trial. I have paid them back in their own coin.” In the days before the modern IRA’s ceasefires and decommissionings, today’s republican leaders also took a similar view. “Everybody knows that the penalty for informing is death,” Gerry Adams once observed. IRA members are “totally and absolutely aware of what the penalty for doing this is,” Martin McGuinness has also said.

In his article, while maintaining that neither he, nor anyone in Sinn F�in, has had any contact with Donaldson since his expulsion from the party, Adams describes him as “a pathetic figure”, minimises his role within Sinn F�in, and implies a financial motivation behind Donaldson’s role as an informer. Adams also quotes a sum that is not contained in Donaldson’s public statement.

Denis Donaldson was very unforthcoming about his activities. The party broke off all contact with him shortly after all this. He was told that if he wanted to make a full disclosure he should get in touch with us. He never did.

Those who turn informer or who act as agents rarely do so out of conviction. Invariably they have shown some weakness and this is exploited. I knew Denis Donaldson since I first met him in Cage 11in Long Kesh in the mid 70s. I had very little contact with him over the years in terms of our day-to-day business. He was never part of the Sinn F�in negotiating team or of our leadership, but he was genuinely popular and very personable. When I learned that he had been working for the British I was fairly philosophical about this. I was moved to a sharp short twist of anger only when the iconic photograph of Bobby Sands, accompanied by Denis Donaldson, appeared in the media. But that to one side, the war is over. So, Denis Donaldson was one of the lucky ones. Or was he?

He said he earned around �40,000. Maybe he understated this. But even if he was earning more, what a way to end up. Living in self-exile. Trying to come to terms with whatever he had done. Trying to figure out what to do in the future. Where to go? Like Gypo Nolan in O’Flaherty’s The Informer, Denis Donaldson had turned into a pathetic figure. I have huge sympathy for his family as I do for the families of other informers and agents, particularly those who were killed by the IRA.

Did I expect Denis Donaldson to be killed? There was always a danger that he could be attacked if he was in some public place. But no, I didn’t expect that any republican would go out premeditatedly to kill him. Not when the IRA had clearly set its face against this. So, I don’t think the killing of Denis Donaldson was a revenge killing.

At which point I’ll note again the recollections of David Sharrock, who previously recalled talking to Denis Donaldson in 1994, and in particular this quote from the time

�For too many people the IRA has become the end in itself and no longer the vehicle to achieve the end for which it fights�

But there’s an extract in a previous post that’s also worth airing at this point. From an article by Maurice Hayes in the Irish Independent, written when Donaldson’s role as an informer was initially made public –

There is something deep in the Irish psyche that is uncomfortable with the idea of spies and informants.

There is a wider view too that in these days of transparency, police forces should not enlist the services of informants. And yet, criminals rarely give themselves up, crimes are rarely solved by brilliant Sherlock Holmes exercises of deductive logic or solely by forensic science, but because somebody has been induced to talk.

It is not only embarrassing to the Sinn Fein leadership, following Stakeknife, that their inner circles should have been penetrated again. Rumours of further disclosures of even bigger fish to come, probably deliberately started, are designed to foster distrust and create more confusion.

There must be those still of a military tendency who will question the vulnerability, if not the judgment and gullibility of the political leadership. The desire to limit damage internally and among the faithful is one strong reason why Sinn Fein have come out so strongly in an effort to transfer blame to the Brits and the police, to divert attention from internal weaknesses, and to prevent their own members from asking awkward questions.

In the fractured politics of the North, all parties will claim some gains from the episode. Sinn Fein will seek to blame the Brits and the securocrats, and use the occasion to justify having nothing to do with policing until the code of discipline includes a requirement never to arrest anyone, much less question them, never to use covert surveillance or informant or accomplice evidence.

Unionists will use it as an excuse to down tools on power-sharing and the creation of a local Executive.

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  • BogExile

    ‘So, I don’t think the killing of Denis Donaldson was a revenge killing.’

    Yes Gerry. The answer is more likely to be that ESB has been trying out a more imaginative and robust way of chasing unpaid bills.

    Extreme revenge for touting is as everybody with a pulse knows hardwired into the Republican psyche. It was quite evidently a means of psychological control for those who might have been getting a bit sickened by the squalid sectarian executions which were given only the thinnest legitimacy.

    Adams isn’t stupid. He’s putting out this intellectually lazy gibberish because at heart it’s about what the British and Irish Governments can stomach on the road to appeasment. And that’s about 100 Denis Donaldson’s stacked on top of each other.

  • The Devil

    “I had very little contact with him over the years in terms of our day-to-day business. He was never part of the Sinn Féin negotiating team or of our leadership”

    ****** YEAH RIGHT *******

    At this rate Pinocchio Adams could soon erase Sergey Bubka from the record books.

  • aquifer

    “For the IRA to be linked to Donaldson’s death would completely undermine its strategy.”

    No it wouldn’t. A dollop of fear would help control the people minding the dispersed assets and businesses that SFPIRA may depend on to further their aims in future, whether by elections, civil disorder, or secret subversion. The partially severed (thief’s) hand may be consistent with that chilling message. And with so many ex-members, still so many more secrets to be kept safe from light.

    I hope Denis’s miserable end is the last.

  • SpiceGirls

    Sounds as though Gerry was in it up to his neck. It’s beginning to get very supicious – everytime there is a prospect for powersharing the Ra pull of some ridiculous stunt! Could it be the shinners don’t actually want to enter an assembly at all! But rather, keep the DUP in the spotlight and play the victim card!!

    We’re all being taken for a ride!

  • joc

    Malachy O’Doherty was excellent on H&M about this last night.

    How come 4 spokespersons for SF were so on message with an almost identical statement that the RA weren’t involved within an hour of the news breaking.

  • sohnlein

    The person who should be coming under suspicion, is the person who so fortuitously leaked Donaldson’s whereabouts to the Sunday World.

    This act, which I believe was part of the preparation for his murder, created a situation whereby the finger of blame could be pointed at all of the usual suspects. Moreover, it’s timing was perfect; a couple of weeks before Balir and Ahern were due to meet – Donaldson gets murdered, and everybody says; “Couldn’t have been PIRA – they had too much to risk.” Just brilliant…..

  • Busty Brenda

    The daily Ireland and ATNs outlets are still pushing the suicide and MI5 and MI6 line. gawd, even the cartoon in the ATN is about MI5 and MI6. when o when are these people gonna print something newsworthy instead of spouting the party line.

  • The Donaldson Family have just said that they don’t believe the IRA was responsible. They said they did not know who murdered him, but claimed the difficult situation they had been put in was the direct result of Special Branch & British Intelligence activities.

  • J Kelly

    So will everyone listen to the word of this grieving family as they have quite rightly listened to the word of other grieving families. They accuse Special Branch and British Intelligence can’t wait to see the media scrum asking questions of Hugh Orde.

  • Reader

    newspuppy: …difficult situation they had been put in was the direct result of Special Branch & British Intelligence activities
    What difficult position have they been put in? Who would blame the family, for goodness sake? Or did they have to advise DD whether to seek the protection of SF or of Special Branch? (Difficult decision? – wrong choice)

  • newspuppy

    Reader – “what difficult position?” –

    Something along the lines of his son receiving a vicious beating in his home ? i’m sure other members have received some verbal also.


    How long before the Daily Ireland claims Donaldson was killed by the Tout Fairy ?

  • Reader

    newspuppy: Something along the lines of his son receiving a vicious beating in his home…

    Then shouldn’t they be blaming the people who did the beating? I’m sure SF will back them to the hilt.

  • newspuppy


    “Who would blame the family, for goodness sake?”

    Your empathy for the family is touching.

    more from the statement which may strike a chord with yourself

    The family went on to ask politicians and media commentators “who have sought to use this tragedy to score cheap political points” to stop doing so.

  • kensei

    “How come 4 spokespersons for SF were so on message with an almost identical statement that the RA weren’t involved within an hour of the news breaking.”

    Now if it was me leading the movement and news like that came out that threatened everything, I’d be on the phone within three seonds.

    It’s really not a hard one to answer in an era with the ubiquitous mobile phone, is it?

  • Doctor Who

    The Butler did it.

  • Doctor Who


    Alright, while there has been a few cheap gags on these threads, concerning after all what is the death of another fellow Human Being, the cheap political point scoring has come from the usual sources. The Repulican movement.

    Who else would try to drum up such a ridulous conspiracy theory, to avoid blame.

    I hear Danny Morrison has been approached to write episodes in a revival of the X Files.

  • Now, why after more than a year has some spammer brought up this old link for further comment?

    My suspicion is to get us talking about this old conspiracy – whether one concerning republicans, of one sort or another, or by some mixture of securocrats – while the Brits are involved in implicating the Kremlin in the killing of a similar tout who had outlived his usefulness, Alexander Litvinenko. I opt for the latter view.

    For more on this growing confrontation between London and Moscow, see this link: affairs/story/0,,2124164,00.html

    The idea that Litvinenko’s alleged assassin, Andrei Lugovoy, could get a fair trial in the UK at this point is even crazier than thinking that the PIRA Council would go wild over the belated confession by Denis Donaldson that he had informed for the Brits. No matter who killed Litvinenko – and I still think that Boris Berezovsky did it with the help of MI6, the Mossad, and Italy’s SIS MI – if London ever gets its hands on Lugovoy, it will throw the book at him in spades unless he implicates the Kremlin in the conspiracy at the highest level.

    The only way to have some semblance of fairness in the matter is for Berezovsky to go to Moscow for the crimes he allegedly committed while Lugovoy is tried in London for the killing of Litvinenko – what simply isn’t going to happen.

    London is now going to instigate a serious diplomatic row with Moscow over it in order to parry the complaints about all the murders it has apparently colluded in – e. g., Denis Donaldson’s, Pat Finucane’s, Billy ‘King Rat’ Wright’s, Dr. David Kelly’s, Anna Lindh’s, Litvinenko’s, etc.

    Britain, in short, is just a rogue state.

  • The link has no space after the word foreign:,,2124164,00.html

  • For Moscow’s latest reaction to the wheeling and dealing by Perfidious Albion and its neocon allies – especially their ‘false flag’ assassination of Alexander Litvinenko at Putin’s expense, though note that the article, of course, makes no mention of it – see this link:

  • For the latest on Perfidious Albion’s aiding and abbetting Italy’s and Israel’s ‘flag flag’ operation to blame their killing of Alexander Litvinenko – who had outlived his usefulness for Western intelligence, especially MI6 – upon the Russians, see this link:,,2007330145,00.html

    Now they making it look as if Putin is planning to kill Boris Berezovsky – why he would need or want to at this point is simply never explained – a new example of the ‘false flag’ operation which achieves its desired effect without harming a hair on anyone’s head.