Denis Donaldson inquest adjourned again – redux – redux

Previously adjourned, for the fifth time, in August last year, the Irish News reports that the inquest into the 2006 death of former senior Sinn Féin figure Denis Donaldson has been adjourned again – a further pre-inquest hearing will be held on May 5.  From the Irish News report

It is understood a key witness in the investigation has been taken into protective custody after allegedly revealing where the gun used to kill Mr Donaldson was buried.

The coroner told [Garda Superintendent Michael Finan] that even if gardai had not requested it, he would have adjourned the inquest as documents – which were to be handed over before Christmas – were only exchanged eight days ago.

The coroner told the inquest on Thursday that he would need further submissions before deciding on how to proceed.

Mr Donaldson’s family requested that a more extensive inquest be held under European law than the standard inquest set by Irish law.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • joeCanuck

    It’s not just this case but it seems to take an inordinate length of time to bring cases to Court over there. In Canada you have a right to a speedy trial and many cases have been thrown out because of it. One judge dismissed hundreds of cases (driving offences) at one sitting. But even very serious charges have been dismissed.

  • Joe are you suggesting that some ‘changes’ may only be superficial when it comes to the politcking on this island? Ask I, 21 years and counting, and still I have not cleared my name.

  • joeCanuck

    I’m not sure what your question is. You do know that I know the circumstances under which you got stitched up.

  • Joe I was being rhetorical with you. Some legal cases originating in 1970’s are still active in NI and there are those other cases relating to the Stalker Files –which was itself an investigation into deaths originating 10-15 years before that.

    On the other hand single judges sitting without a jury in NI have also despatched multiple defendants in a single Trial and ultimately passed sentences totaling in excess of 1000 years.

  • joeCanuck

    That’s the first time I heard that Diplock Judges sat of their own; I was under the mistaken idea that they were tribunals.

  • Rory Carr

    Surely there is at least sufficient evidence available for an inquest to have determined that Donaldson was killed by “a person or persons unknown” and after that to leave the investigation, apprehension of suspects and the bringing of criminal charges to the Garda?

    It cannot surely be the function of an inquest to determine precisely who killed Donaldson since that determination must be left for the criminal court to make so why, I ask myself, all this need for adjournment after adjournment while investigation continues?

    Perhaps if I had been more zealous in pursuit of a violent career in the Republic then I might be more au fait with the niceties. Remiss of me I know but a wee bit late to start now however.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Do we know for certain whether McGinley and/or Gallagher are still in protective custody ?

  • Joe you have me there, I am not sure if you are now joking or being rhetorical with me? The Single Judge was the Tribunal.

  • fordprefect

    Yes, I thought Joe was winding you up. A “Diplock” court is presided over by one judge Joe, named after Irelands favourite British “Lord Diplock”! Christy, I had to wait 31 years before I was exonerated and my “convictions” were quashed.

  • fordprefect –it is always good to hear of successes but no amount of compensation can replace those years –I presume you were in from late teens or early twenties so missed out on one of the most important parts of anyone’s life. Don’t know if you saw any of my postings elsewhere but I swiped one of the Porsecutors files at the close of my appeal —Prosecutor Gary McCrudden did the crime and I did the time!

    David Ford is busy giving me a hard time in attempt to coverup criminal conduct within the PPS.

    The PPS have tried to suggest that the RUC detective only gave them the evidence in question16 years late (2008) and that was why it happened to be hidden in the Prosecutor’s file.

  • joeCanuck

    Not winding anyone up. I thought a Tribunal was 3 judges after the “TRI..” which means 3. I sat on tribunals, always 3; Union rep, management rep and an independant. Don’t forget I was away in the latter half of the conflict.

  • Joe I think it just means panel for adjudication rather than a quaram of three.

    “Don’t forget I was away in the latter half of the conflict.” What were you on the run for? And are one of the ‘on-the-runs who can you now come back? Now I am winding you up.

  • fordprefect

    I was in, in my mid teens, so missed out on my most formative years, and you are right, no amount of comp can compensate for all that I missed out on.

  • fordprefect

    Christy,When I got out, a lot of my friends were married, (I don’t want to sound sexist here), but, I hadn’t a clue how to talk to or chat up a girl. I was terrified going up to a bar to order a drink in case they thought I was under-age (I still had the mindset of a 15 to 16 year-old), though I was far more intelligent. In a right few cases the barperson asked me if I had any I.D.!

  • fordprefect –I follow that and it is the kind of shit no one else is likely to understand —I remember as each year passed I could always remember the day I was arrested as if it were yesterday. Did you get any counselling or help afterwards? I imagine you had to make a lot of compensations to try and adjust. Some useless slob on slugger made an off the cuff remark to me once how all I was about was just wanting compensation –luckily you cannot commit involuntary manslaughter on a webforum, or at least, lucky for that person.

  • fordprefect

    Typical of some asshole/s to think that all we want is monetary re-imbursement, I would forgo (as I’m sure you would) ANY amount of money, just to have those precious years back! And yes, I am getting counselling now, but, I had to go about doing that myself.

  • joeCanuck

    Keep at it, fordprefect. Counselling can be a powerful tool to help you heal yourself. I had to go and get some for about a year a while back and it helped enormously.

  • Fordprefect well it will give me some satisfaction if a Prosecutor goes to jail based on the REAL evidence against him as opposed to the phoney stuff on us –no doubt the apparatus will work as tirelessly to keep him out as it did to keep us in. –He who laughs last and all that…

  • fordprefect

    100% right!

  • joeCanuck

    Be sure to try and make up some of the lost years and have fun now while you wait because you know that it may be an exceedingly long wait. Those people are experts at protecting their arses;Think Widgery.

  • Joe I had to borrow quite a few thousand to pay legal expenses –not to mention travel from Cork to Belfast pretty regularly and then accomodation all accumulated quite a bill so that saps enjoyment. At present the banks want their money back, I am more reliable than they are, so they will get it eventually. I have just completed three exams and have two to do in May and that completes a law degree.

    Meanwhile the wait should not be so long as David Ford cannot hold out forever –because eventually the stink will start to stick to others if they wish to sit on their hands –one obvious implication if no action is soon taken against the Prosecutor is that it blows whatever credibility Sinn Fein have if they are calling for their own supporters to support the Police –who in turn would hand suspects over to the PPS –SF could not be seen as endorsing a criminally inclined Crown Prosecutor who ‘fixes’ cases.

    Nor the fact that Sinn Fein have endorsed David Ford’s selection who is currently doing his best to bury the facts against the Prosecutor by reviving a malicious prosecution against me. I have lodged for Judicial Review which can also not be put of forever, and if it is, I can then take the case direct to the ECHR for ‘Administrative Practice’ if the NI Assembly is permitting human rights violations by allowing Ford to do as he is doing.

    In fact David Fords conduct would probably be viewed worse by Sinn Fein’s voters than Alliance voters.

  • Munsterview

    Christy : you and others in your position have my sympathy but it is not much better down here, I will have seventeen years clocked up dealing with Garda perjury and fit up this year.

    Martin Ferris between his release from prison and his big showdown in Tralee circuit Court the following year had enough road traffic summons and convictions to paper a fair sized bedroom. Post the case and the floor being wiped with the State his driving improved by magic and no more summons.

    There is an obvious and tolerated corruption and expedience North and South on this Island and no body other than the victims seem to care.

    You have probably followed the Donegal Garda Scandal ? Dozens of police involved in that right up to HQ level, some on the ground had their own explosives manufacturing facility to make bombs whit they planted in Northern Ireland for their Northern Colleagues and police coconspirators to find. Commendations handed out and lashings of overtime.

    How many Police in both jurisdictions investigated ?

    How many charged ?

    How many commendations rescinded ?

    How many cops were asked to repay their unnecessary overtime and expenses ?

    How many cops had their pensions withdrawn ?

    How many in the State solicitor system in the South who facilitated their activities were in any way held to account? ( None according to the late Billy Flynn, the man who broke the case)

    How many Judges in the Court system that facilitated, imposed and upheld these convictions had even explanations requested from them ? ( None …..Billy Flynn)

    The criminal law systems North and South and the Police Forces that operate inside the this legal system are not fit for purpose but it is highly unlikely that anything will be done to have more accountability in the foreseeable future.

  • fordprefect

    Thank you.

  • Munsterview you are quite right however it is not that police or legal system are not fit for purpose –they are. The problem is who they serve, the police and legal system are as capable to serve the people as preserve the status of the rich and powerful but they don’t.

  • Munsterview


    My personal and observed experience. 20 % will do everything thing they possibly can and are true to their profession 20% are bad bastards that should never be in the poliece service or any other service to begin with and the remainder 60% are good or bad according to the circumstances, in general they do their job and carry the day.

    I do not agree with you about the legal system : I have plenty to say about it having worked colsely with the late Billy Flynn on many cases but a fraction of it and Mick would have legal writs flying across the border.

    I gave an example of serving gardai in Donegall manafacturing explosives and planting these in Notheren Ireland. Where are all the usual suspects who would churn out 50 posts if Millitant Republicans did the same thing ? There is a complacency about Poliece and Legal abuse North and South of the border that is not being tackled.

    In the North this bias is percieved as anti-Republican and therefore is tolerated while in the South it is all about protecting the haves from the have nots. A crim found guilty of robbing a hundred € from a servis station can expect to do a jail stretch, a white collar banker doing a bank for a million or a hundred million is still regarded as the pillar of his community and will do his time under tropical sunshine in some exclusive beach.

    When you have system that is unfit for purpose and individuals that are corrupt interfacing with it, that is a build in disaster !

    How many years was Niki Kelly allowed languish in Jail when his other innocent comrades were released and the whole country, including those who held him in jail out of personal spleen knew the truth of the situation ? The system is corrupt to its core top to bottom, it was back then and it still is at present time.

  • Munsterview I agree with what you are saying and immediately two cases jump to mind which always struck me as shocking –some ten years ago a drunken architect killed a pedestrain and got a 4 year suspended sentence and on the same day two 17year old joyriders each got ten years for killing a pedestrian –the obvious difference being they did not own the car. Justice Cairns was the judge.

    I seemingly different opinion with you on ‘not fit for purpose’ is not that wrong is not done but that the system is doing what it is designed to do and it is considered acceptible –it is no accident that the southern Human Rights Commission website is practically derelict and it is supposed to stay that way –occassional the southern Commission will have tea and scones with the northern Commission and each will complement the other in a self congratulating back slapping exercises. It is no accident that both Human Rights Commissions are useless their only function is to create the illussion –and that is not because they are ‘not fit for purpose’ but because that is their purpose.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “Surely there is at least sufficient evidence available for an inquest to have determined that Donaldson was killed by “a person or persons unknown” and after that to leave the investigation, apprehension of suspects and the bringing of criminal charges to the Garda?”

    That would make sense if the law in your part of the world made sense. It doesn’t:

    30.—Questions of civil or criminal liability shall not be considered or investigated at an inquest and accordingly every inquest shall be confined to ascertaining the identity of the person in relation to whose death the inquest is being held and how, when, and where the death occurred.

    No doubt that this language explains much of the ungodly delays. One would hope that “how” would be interpreted in the medical sense, and not, A, B, C, and D entered into an agreement to kill the deceased, and A first rented a van that would be needed… Hopefully, “when” can be a range once it becomes clear that death was not within the last day or two (or one picks some date within the range and notes that it is approximate). And why there is a “where” simply boggles the mind, since we might have to match up the dust on his boots to see where else in dear ole Eire this particular dust is found.

    Would be much simpler if you all simply did this:

    As soon as any coroner or deputy coroner has notice of the death of any person within the coroner’s or deputy coroner’s jurisdiction as the result of violence, or as the result of any accident, or by suicide, or suddenly when in apparent health, or when unattended by a physician, or in prison, or in a suspicious or unusual manner, or within twenty-four hours after admission to a hospital or institution, the coroner or deputy coroner shall forthwith inquire into and make a complete investigation of the cause of the death.

    And the certificate reads:

    (a) The coroner or deputy coroner shall reduce the coroner’s or deputy coroner’s findings to writing in the following form:


    County (or City and County) of……………………..


    An inquisition taken at…………… county (or city and county) of…………… on the….. day of…………… in the year 20….. before…………… coroner of the county upon the body of…………… there lying dead, resulted as follows:

    That the deceased was named……………; and a native of……………; was aged about…..; that the deceased came to h….. death, on the….. day of…………… 19….., from……………

    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the coroner has hereunto set the coroner’s hand on this….. day of …………… 20…… .

    Would be long over now if your coroner could fill in the form with the info he has and then add for that last item, homicide (which is not saying that a crime was committed, remember, the law of self-defense makes the killing a justifiable homicide).

  • Munsterview


    This is not so much about the limitations or restrictions of inquest law per se as it is about case management of ‘sensitive issues’ by the State.

    During the forties when Dev was attempting to break Republicans and when prison abuse of Republican inmates persons was paramount in State prison policy, an abused prisoner died on hunger strike.

    When the inquest was finally held and the prison doctor was called to the stand, the following exchange too place……

    Family Counsel……… ” Sir do you have a dog ? ”

    Doctor ……….. “Yes, I do ”

    Family Council…….. ” Would you allow your dog to be treated as this man was treated ”

    Doctor…….. ” No Sir, I most certainly would not ”

    The corner was in like a a shot, stopped the inquest and adjourned it indefinitely. This inquest has never been reconvened.

    It should be remembered that the Office of Coroner is a nice little earner, the people appointed are are given their office by direct Government patronage and the individuals appointed are not known for their hostility to the Fianna Fail or the establishment generally.

    There are many more political sensitive cases like Donolsons, inquests where issues concerning the Gardai or other State interests are concerned, that are also ‘managed’ by continual adjournments or that have been adjourned without a date and never reconvened.

    When I claimed that the Irish Legal system is corrupt to it’s core and from base to apex, the whole inquest process and how it operates, is but one more example.