09 December 2005

Stormont charges 'were to save Trimble's career'


09/12/2005 - 12:03:07

A Sinn Féin official who had charges dropped against him over a republican spy ring at Stormont claimed today that police arrested him as part of a campaign to save David Trimble’s political career.

Denis Donaldson, who with Ciaran Kearney and William Mackessy had charges dropped at Belfast Crown Court yesterday, said he was not surprised at the decision to drop the case against them.

“I wasn’t surprised because we weren’t guilty,” said Mr Donaldson, Sinn Féin’s head of administration at Stormont at the time of the arrests in 2002.

“There was no spy ring at Stormont. There never was.

“What it all added up to was politically-inspired charges which should never have been brought.

“The fact that the media was here on the morning that our offices (at Stormont) was raided testifies to that.

“It was part of a Save Dave (Trimble) campaign initially and it was also designed to bring down the (power-sharing) institutions, which it did.”

Mr Donaldson, 55, of Altnamonagh Crescent in West Belfast, and his son-in-law Mr Kearney, 34, of Commedagh Drive, were charged with having information which was likely to be of use to terrorists.

Civil servant William Mackessy, 47, from Wolfend Way in North Belfast, was also charged.

But in a dramatic development yesterday, the prosecutor told Belfast Crown Court that it was withdrawing all evidence against the men and a prosecution was no longer in the public interest.

With no evidence against them, Mr Justice Hart ruled that all three should be found not guilty.

Mr Donaldson, Mr Kearney and Mr Mackessy joined Sinn Féin MPs Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness at Stormont today and were also joined by East Derry Assembly member Francie Brolly who was released last week after being questioned by the Police Service of Northern Ireland about a triple IRA car bomb attack on the village of Claudy which killed nine people.

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