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13 April 2006 Edition

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Donaldson death - serious questions for PSNI

BY LAURA FRIEL

British agent Denis Donaldson

British agent Denis Donaldson

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said that a report in the Sunday Business Post alleging that one of two men who exposed the whereabouts of British agent Denis Donaldson was a former Special Branch officer raised serious questions for the PSNI.

"We are told that the man who led Sunday World journalist Hugh Jordan to Denis Donaldson's home in Donegal and who secretly filmed him was a former member of the RUC, Colin Breen. Shortly after the Sunday World exposé Denis Donaldson was killed," said Kelly.

"Given the role played by Special Branch in Denis Donaldson's life over many years, the revelation of the involvement of Colin Breen in this story is extremely sinister. It is clear that the PSNI Special Branch now have serious questions to answer about their role in publicising Denis Donaldson's whereabouts," said Kelly.

According to the Sunday Business Post, the former officer, Colin Breen had worked in Tennent Street RUC barracks in Belfast before his retirement. Breen travelled with the Sunday World journalist to the Glenties area of County Donegal to track Donaldson down.

Breen, who is believed to have close ties to Special Branch, is not a member of the Sunday World's staff and photographers employed by the newspaper were not used. The journalist Hugh Jordan described how he had searched for Donaldson in Donegal but made no mention of Breen's role.

Breen secretly filmed Donaldson outside his remote cottage five miles from Glenties. The Sunday World printed photographs and video film was sold to a number of British television stations and broadcast. The public had been unaware of Donaldson's location prior to the media reports. Within days of the coverage Donaldson was killed.

The timing of the killing, just two days before the British and Irish governments unveiled their plans, has been seen by many as a deliberate attempt to thwart the political process.

In 2002 Donaldson was used by Special Branch to collapse the democratically elected power-sharing executive amidst spurious allegations of a republican 'spy ring'. Special Branch exposed Donaldson as a British agent last year in a further attempt to destabilise the peace process.

This is not the first time Hugh Jordan has been the media conduit for Special Branch's dirty war. In the late 1990s a former Special Branch agent, Thomas Douglas who worked as part of a black propaganda group, claimed he had fed Jordan fabricated stories designed to undermine the IRA cessation at that time.

It's not the first time that an agent, apparently considered more useful dead than alive, has been killed. William Stobie, a Special Branch agent who supplied and later disposed of weaponry used in the murder of Pat Finucane, was shot dead after he backed the call for a public inquiry and appeared willing to co operate with the Steven's probe.

In a statement issued shortly before the funeral, the Donaldson family blamed the "activities of Special Branch" for their "difficult situation". "The difficult situation which our family has been put in is the direct result of the activities of the Special Branch and British Intelligence agencies," said the family.

The family acknowledged "the speedy statement from the IRA disassociating themselves from this murder. We believe that statement to be true". The family also urged "those politicians and media commentators who have sought to use this tragedy to score cheap political points to stop doing so."

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