Political News

Sinn Fein chief Adams denies he approved killing of IRA spy

Posted September 21

— Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams has rejected an ex-member's accusation that Adams authorized the 2006 Irish Republican Army killing of a high-profile informant.

The BBC's Spotlight investigative program in Belfast broadcast an interview with the man making the allegation on Tuesday night but shielded his identity, citing fears the IRA might try to kill him, too.

The man, whom the BBC identified as a former member of the outlawed IRA and legal Sinn Fein who had passed intelligence tipoffs for years to British authorities, said Adams approved the 2006 killing of former Sinn Fein official Denis Donaldson.

The BBC Spotlight documentary said senior IRA figures came under internal pressure to sanction Donaldson's killing by IRA commanders in South Armagh, a border region where suspected turncoats frequently were taken to be interrogated, tortured and slain. The man said Adams had "the final say."

Donaldson in December 2005 admitted he had secretly briefed police and British intelligence officers on IRA and Sinn Fein activities for two decades, an offense that traditionally merited the death penalty within IRA circles. But his public confession came just months after his dominant IRA faction, the Provisionals, had officially disarmed in support of peacemaking efforts.

Donaldson moved from Belfast to live alone in an isolated farmhouse with no running water or electricity in the Republic of Ireland, where police found him shot to death five months later.

Nobody ever has been charged with Donaldson's killing. A splinter group nicknamed the Real IRA claimed responsibility three years later, but suspicions have persisted that Donaldson's former colleagues in the Provisionals were responsible.

Adams said Wednesday he had no role in Donaldson's slaying and accused the BBC of reckless journalism, but stopped short of saying whether he would sue for libel.

"I very specifically and categorically and in a very unqualified way deny these allegations," Adams told Irish broadcasters RTE.

While he denies ever having been a member, every credible history of the Irish republican movement has identified him as a Provisional IRA commander since the early 1970s. The Provisionals killed nearly 1,800 people from 1970 to July 2005, when the group formally renounced violence.

Suspicions that Provisionals killed Donaldson after declaring peace threatened to derail efforts to revive a unity government for Northern Ireland. A partnership government formed jointly by Sinn Fein and leaders of Northern Ireland's British Protestant majority nonetheless has governed the United Kingdom region in relative stability since 2007.

Adams has been arrested numerous times on suspicion of involvement in IRA activities, particularly before he spearheaded the rise of Sinn Fein in the 1980s. He was interned without trial as a Provisional IRA suspect in 1972, released to serve as an IRA negotiator in brief cease-fire talks with the British government, and interned again from 1973 to 1976.

His only criminal conviction stems from his failed 1974 escape attempt from an internment camp.

He was arrested in 2014 and questioned over the IRA's 1972 abduction and slaying of a west Belfast woman branded a British army spy. Two deceased IRA members had identified Adams in audiotaped interviews as the west Belfast commander who ordered the woman to be buried in an unmarked grave. Adams denied the allegations and was released without charge.

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