02 January 2006

O' Caolain wasn't a Garda spy, insists Sinn Fein

Irish Independent

Ben Quinn

SINN Fein reacted angrily yesterday to claims that TD Caoimhghin O Caolain once served as a Garda informer.

The Cavan/Monaghan dail deputy became the subject of the rumours in the wake of the unmasking of Sinn Fein official Denis Donaldson as a British agent last month.

The party said yesterday that the matter was now in the hands of solicitors after the TD reportedly denied at the weekend that he has become the subject of suspicion among republican colleagues.

"Deputy O Caolain and Sinn Fein take this attack on his reputation very seriously and we have now placed the matter in the hands of the party's solicitors," a party spokesperson said in a statement.

The fallout from the Donaldson affair has included speculation that other senior republicans are about to be revealed as British spies.

Sinn Fein alleged yesterday that stories have been planted in the media to distract attention from what republicans claim was the involvement of elements from Britain's intelligence agencies in collapsing the North's power-sharing government.

It said the stories had named individuals "without even one iota of evidence being produced and without any thought to the impact on the individuals and their families or the damage to their reputations".

A report yesterday in Ireland on Sunday quoted Mr O Caolain describing rumours that he worked for the Gardai as "absolute nonsense".

He also reportedly denied he is the subject of an internal republican probe into how an informer passed information to the security forces in Monaghan.

Meanwhile, a separate report yesterday stated that police in Northern Ireland visited the homes of a number of Belfast republicans to warn them that they are suspected by other activists of being informers.

Shockwaves went through republican circles last month when Sinn Fein's Assembly Group administrator at Stormont, Denis Donaldson, admitted that he had worked for British Intelligence for up to 20 years.

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