21 December 2005

Was O’Loan in dark over spy?

Daily Ireland

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Denis Donaldson’s role as a Sinn Féin spy may have been hidden from the Police Ombudsman during her investigation into the collapse of the Assembly, Daily Ireland can reveal.
Nuala O’Loan’s office has refused to comment on whether her investigators were told of the senior Sinn Féin official’s life as a Special Branch agent.
The ombudsman’s investigation found no evidence to suggest Special Branch raids on Sinn Féin offices at Stormont and the homes of republicans in October 2002 were politically-motivated.
The raids led to the collapse of the powersharing government. However, the ombudsman’s silence on whether her investigators knew of Donaldson’s role as a informant has raised questions about the credibility of the investigation.
The Northern Ireland Policing Board last night also said it was satisfied that the Stormont raids were not politically-motivated, but revealed its evidence for this relied solely on the ombudsman's report, where she refused to confirm or deny whether her investigators were aware of the existence of a British agent in a top position within the Sinn Féin hierarchy.
The board's reliance on what could now be seen as a questionable report also places another question mark over the validity of its own conclusions, possibly made without a vital piece of evidence to complete the picture of what was actually going on at Stormont.
Republicans are now asking was Nuala O’Loan kept deliberately in the dark about Donaldson in order for her office to justify the Stormont raids.
Sinn Féin Assemblyman Gerry Kelly believes Donaldson was working to an agenda set by his Special Branch paymasters. He said: “It is clear that the British State agencies who mounted this entire operation knew that there was no value other than political theatre to raid the Sinn Féin offices in Stormont.
“No documents or evidence were recovered in that raid. The two (computer) disks taken at random and removed were returned to the party within days.
“Hugh Orde is unable to justify the raid on Stormont because it was unjustifiable. It was politically motivated and intended to cause maximum political damage, a result which was achieved.”
Defending the raids yesterday, Chief Constable Hugh Orde said that “documents” were recovered during searches of republicans' homes.
What he failed to mention was that the documents were found at the home of Special Branch agent Denis Donaldson.
A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman refused to comment on whether investigators were made aware of Donaldson’s role during its Stormont raid investigation.
He said: “The Police Ombudsman is making no comment on spy-rings at Stormont and no comment on political involvement in what happened.
“It is simply saying that on the day the raids were justified in policing terms, no more and no less.”
Meanwhile, recent reports that “several” republicans had been visited by the PSNI and warned that they were about to be “outed” as British agents in the press appeared to be without foundation.
Daily Ireland enquiries indicate that no such visits had taken place since Denis Donaldson came forward with his explosive revelations.

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