Garda: following a Republican line

Front page story in the Irish Times: “…the main line of inquiry was that republicans were responsible although the possibility that some of Donaldson’s former British intelligence handlers were involved was also not ruled out”.They said that “republicans” could mean Provisional IRA members acting officially; Provisionals operating individually to kill Donaldson in revenge for his acting as a British agent; or dissident republicans.

  • foreign correspondent

    I don´t know who killed him, mpre than anyone else posting on this in recent days.
    Everyone´s going to blame the other side from the one they´re on.
    If it was Republicans, of whatever hue, they were wrong to kill him and they should go to jail.
    If it was British agents they were wrong to kill him and they should go to jail.
    It´s another pointless death in the long long list of pointless deaths in Irish history.

  • seriously

    Did they also say that it could mean British intelligence handlers acting officially; Handlers operating individually to kill Donaldson in revenge for his spilling all; or possibly special branch. ??

  • Belfastwhite

    Denis Donaldson was hardly an advert for anyone seeking a career as a British Agent. Shunned by his community and living in a remote cottage without even electricity and running water. Ask yourselves who really benefits from his death. Ask yourselves what was due to be announced today and who loses when the Assembly is up and running and security is scaled down. The BBC and UTV have not even entertained the possibilty that Brit or Special Branch agents were involved this I find incredible shame on them.

  • Toni

    I know this is a side note but everyone likes to highlight that he was living like an animal without electricity in the hills of Donegal.

    Believe me sitting behind a computer all day, attending dumb meetings and getting stressed out with the only break consisting of jumping on slugger to see how little progress has been made to the peace process.. In comparison the cottage in Donegal sounds blissful.

  • Mick Fealty

    Cui bono is a serious question. And one that people should not drop from their minds as this investigation continues.

    One of the problems I’ve encountered in thinking about this is that it is very hard to get to the bottom of what motivates any of the (what are said to be) two major players in the ‘dirty war’.

    I’ve met politicians and activists in Sinn Fein who seem intent on developing a serious political project of the left on the island. But the IRA has never talked candidly about its own ambitions and purposes. So too the ‘securocrats’.

    As Stanage pointed out yesterday, none of the conspiracy theories add up, if you are looking for motive. Idoubt if you can use Cui Bono to convincing effect on its own. Evidence (of any sort) needs to be forthcoming to bring some of the wilder imaginings to earth.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    So early reports, commented on as fact, that Donaldson was tortured and mutilated have proven to be false.

    So early reports, commented on as fact by Paisley that Donaldson’s hand had been removed as some sort of symbolic gesture have proven to be false.

    So early reports, commented on by one Slugger moderator that Donaldson had been deliberately shot in the face to ensure the coffin would be closed as a final insult to an informer, have proven to be false.

    Never before has so much crap been written by so many with so little recourse to anything factual.

  • J Kelly

    Mick what evidence can be relied on in cases of this nature. In a dirty war its not beyond either side planting or fabricating evidence. The big issue for the political process what degree of proof will the IMC need to lay the blame for this on republicans. The IMC will not report on this incident until the Autumn that obviously suits the DUPand those in the NIO who want to drag this entire process out forever and a day. Cui Bono is a serious consideration and the mainstream media is not at all investigating this angle. Can anyone give me a rational explanation of how the killing of Denis Donaldson in anyway benefits republicans.

    At the press conference today in Armagh will anyone ask Tony Blair to guarantee us all that the British had no hand or part in this case?

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m with you on that score Pat. Though I demur from using the words ‘never before’.

  • Mick Fealty

    JK:

    It is a dilemma. I’m only speaking from the point of view trying to assemble coherent thoughts on the matter, but cui bono alone is apt to lead you to indentify whomsoever you may personally feel is the villan.

    Although it has to be said that an uncertain outcome would certainly not be to the advantage to the Sinn Fein that I know from an outsider’s point of view. Albeit, I cannot claim anything near a comprehensive knowledge.

  • J Kelly

    In all that has went before this case is probably the one that does in no way whatsoever have any political or military benefits for republicans. In the case of the Northern Bank/Castlereagh it could be argued that republicans benefited from it, if the IRA were responsible and both of these have to be proved in any case, the operations being so audacious and clean it was sending a message to the Brits and others we have this capability. But in this case no benefits accrues at all even within the republican community because no one cares for the likes of Denis Donaldson one way or the other.

    My second point ties in with Pats why are the media not considering the possibility that the Brits killed DD. Who does it benefit that republicans are even being suspected of this killing.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Agreed Mick, I should have used ‘not since last week’ instead of ‘never before’.

  • Pete Baker

    “cui bono alone is apt to lead you to indentify whomsoever you may personally feel is the villan”

    Indeed, Mick.. with this murder there are few, if any, rational arguments for a direct benefit for anyone.

    If, on the other hand, we consider who did not benefit [or who, or what, might have been damaged] from Donaldson’s continued existence after his being revealed as an informer.. then, I’d suggest, the picture may become a little clearer.

  • DK

    JK,

    I think no-one is examining the Brit possibility as it is so ulikely – if it went wrong, there would be a serious international incident – not worth the risk.

    And why should they kill him? If he has any secrets he would have told Sinn Fein at his debriefing, or someone else, or left as letters to be distributed in case of his death. If it is to embarras Sinn Fein, why do it when the PM is about to come over – they just end up embarrasing him, their boss.

    Simplest explanation is someone with a personal grudge due to something that happened through DD’s activities while a spy. How come Garda aren’t following that line?

  • J Kelly

    DK
    I think no-one is examining the Brit possibility as it is so ulikely – if it went wrong, there would be a serious international incident – not worth the risk.

    Did you ever hear of thekilling of Pat Finucane this answere could have been used in the days after his death. These people do not have to consider the risk they can change the rules if needed the Inquiries Bill.

    PB
    The only people who had anything to fear from DD was his former paymasters. By living in Donegal was IMO a signal to republicans that he wasn’t going to be a Sean Callaghan an “expert on the IRA” with the inside knowledge on every leading member of Sinn Fein.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    The only evidence I think we can rely on — unless the police are just out and out lying from the get-go — is that Donaldson was shot with a shotgun, at least two discharged shells were recovered. The BBC reports evidence of forced entry, suggesting that the shooter was not known to Donaldson or was someone that he would trust to talk to him holding a shotgun, i.e. a stranger or someone with a known grudge.

    Stipulating the above, there are a few logical inferences that can be made:

    The shooting with either amateur hour or meant to look that way — the fact the shells were recovered is testimony to that, along with the choice of a shotgun.

    Now, from the shells, some additional evidence may be generated. They may tie the killing to a speciific weapon through exctractor and firing pin marks. There may be fingerprints on the shells.

    Per the BBC, my comments about the damage to the right hand being from the shotgun blast are confirmed, as opposed to some ritulaistic mutilation.

  • mickhall

    Just a question, has suicide been categorically ruled out by the Guards.

    A point I agree with in Toni post above is about the house, much of the media has described Mr Donaldson as living in a pre famine hovel. This is clearly rubbish as the Photo in todays guardian shows the house is clearly work in progress, it looks like it has had a new roof recently and the garden and entrance are being worked upon, plus new windows look a possibility. it also has an outbuilding which is used as a garage. In other words it is a typical working mans holiday home.

    This may seem a small point but if the media is willing to pass on hear say as fact as far as the building is concerned, what confidence can we have in anything they print on this tragedy.

  • Paul

    Dread Cthulhu, you are talking sense. I don’t think it was meant to look amateur, I think it was amateur. It’s a messy way to kill someone, I can’t believe that skilled operators from whatever side would have choosen it. I’m surprised DD didn’t have a firearm for his own protection, however, or maybe he didn’t actually care anymore.

  • Mick Fealty

    Mick,

    I think it relates to the time it was built, rather than the last time it saw paint. In my experience, Donegal people were fastideous in keeping up their houses. No choice, given the climate!

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Mickhall: “Just a question, has suicide been categorically ruled out by the Guards. ”

    Given that D.D. was shot twice, I think we can safely say this was either categorically not suicide or one of the worst cases of suicide I’e ever heard of… “Hunting accident,” is still on the table, if its any comfort…

    Mickhall: “This may seem a small point but if the media is willing to pass on hear say as fact as far as the building is concerned, what confidence can we have in anything they print on this tragedy. ”

    That’s why we ought to stick to the basic facts of the shooting and ignore the editorial commentary in the news — multiple sourcing, et. al.

  • DK

    J Kelly said: “Did you ever hear of thekilling of Pat Finucane this answere could have been used in the days after his death.”

    Not comparable. Finucane was killed in Belfast, so not a potential international incident. DD was killed in the Irish Republic.

    Finucane was killed by loyalists allegedly given info by rogue security elements (is there an ongoing/recent enquiry?). Loyalists might find it hard to operate in rural Donegal.

    Finucane was killed during the troubles. DD after the troubles.

    There was good reason for Finucane to be targetted – he was allegedly in the IRA & a prominent republican, so a “legitimate” target. For DD, no such reason remained.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    DK: “There was good reason for Finucane to be targetted – he was allegedly in the IRA & a prominent republican, so a “legitimate” target. For DD, no such reason remained. ”

    Finucane as a high profile Republican lawyer, one of the few willing to defend accused IRA members. Anything beyond that is speculation. His death likely has more to do with his legal activities and an attempt to intimidate Republican lawyers than anything else. Likewise, rationalizing extra-judicial executions isn’t the best way to claim the “moral high ground…

    As for D.D., there is an abundance of motives, ranging from the personal to the political, and that’s after excluding the possibility of mundane motives or random crazies.

    As for *this* murder, eliminating anyone at this early date would be premature. The dearth of evidence, abundence of motives and simplicity of the attack — break in, shoot and scoot, means that literally *ANYONE* could have done it. Even the weapon is generic — right now, the only thing anyone might be able to tell is if it was pump action, break action or semi-auto (different extractor marks left on the brass).

  • mickhall

    Where did the information come from that claimed DD was shot twice, have the autopsy results been placed in the public domain? It may well be true, but sources are important especially when misinformation can have enormous consequences in the north, although to read the media on this one would think all a journalist needs to do these days is rely on the bloody dogs in the street.

    Mick

    I do not think this has any thing to do with the odd coat of paint, the word used on more than one occasion was hovel, the purpose being to portray DD as bedding down tramp like in the remains of an old pre famine abandoned Dwelling like a hunted rat, which was clearly not the case.

    all the best

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Maickhall: “Where did the information come from that claimed DD was shot twice, have the autopsy results been placed in the public domain? It may well be true, but sources are important especially when misinformation can have enormous consequences in the north, although to read the media on this one would think all a journalist needs to do these days is rely on the bloody dogs in the street. ”

    Two spent shotgun shells were recovered. Now, while it is something of an assumption on my part, seeing as the dead fella was shot by a shotgun, I kinda went down the obvious path of thought. Secondly, seeing as the wound to his wrist is being attibuted to shotgun pellets, I find it difficult to come up with too many contortions that would allow for A) suicide and B) a wound to the wrist.

    Now, admittedly, I am limiting myself to police statements to the press, as opposed to the sensationalist statement of the Rt. Rev. Paisley and other political animals and applying logic where some have preferred to apply the political axe. I think these limitations are sufficient without ignoring what little credible information we are receiving (precious little) to come up with nice tidy solutions that border on wish-fufillment. As for sources, I am limiting myself primarily to the BBC and only those items indicated as a quote or attibuted to a police source.

    Frankly, as much as I would like and prefer a ruling of “suicide,” “misadventure,” or “hunting accident,” I think its wishful thinking.