19 December 2005

Pressure grows for Blair to speak out on spy allegation

Irish Independent

Brian Dowling
19 December 2005

PRESSURE is growing on British Prime Minister Tony Blair to make a public statement about the senior republican who says was an MI5 spy for 20 years.

Denis Donaldson is believed to be in hiding with his family in the Republic.

His former party leader, Gerry Adams, will meet Northern Secretary Peter Hain today and will urge him to curb "dissident elements within the British system" undermining the peace process. Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern will also meet Mr Hain today.

With intense speculation in the North that a second British spy, occupying an even more sensitive role in Sinn Fein, may be unmasked, Mr Ahern will be anxious to get an assessment from the Northern Secretary.

The Foreign Minister initially had hoped the meeting would be focused on advancing the political process next year.

There are growing demands in the North for a public inquiry into the Stormontgate affair that started in 2002 with claims of an IRA spy ring and sensationally resulted in the exposure of Mr Donaldson as a spy.

Mr Donaldson was the head of administration for Sinn Fein at Stormont and was one of three charged on spying related offences only to see the case dropped by the North's DPP two weeks ago.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has described the latest turn of events as "bizarre" and said he finds it hard to understand what exactly is going on.

The Taoiseach said he wants to listen to what both the British government and Sinn Fein have to say about the sensational statement made by Mr Donaldson.

It is unclear what impact the dramatic events will have on the efforts to restore a power-sharing executive involving Sinn Fein and the DUP.

Mr Hain said the DUP was accusing him of a state cover-up to protect Sinn Fein while that party was accusing the state of engaging some kind of conspiracy.

"Neither event is true, both can't be right, both are actually wrong," he told a television interviewer yesterday.

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