13 February 2006

Donaldson double life stranger than fiction

Archives: Down Democrat

**Via Newshound

3/01/2006

THE double dealing life of British agent Denis Donaldson reads like a John Le Carre spy novel.

But the only fiction in Donaldson's life for the last 20 years was that he was fully committed to the cause of Republicanism as espoused by Sinn Fein. During that time he was living a lie based on betrayal after betrayal.

For while he gave the outward appearance of a man ingrained with the strongest possible Republican principles the private reality was that of man who had sold those principles. Donaldson was a man who could always be charming in public while at the same time being totally determined to get his own way, whether in personal relationships or in the context of implementing Sinn Fein party policy controls.

Denis Donaldson loved the trappings of power and influence. He loved to be at the centre of operations.

As a member of the Belfast Brigade staff of the IRA during the 1970s, wearing his trademark long black leather coat, he was regarded as a man who revelled in getting his point of view listened to, and acted upon.

The questions that Sinn Fein party members are now asking however is whether the dictatorial stance adopted by Donaldson when he moved over to a central political position with the party was simply a mirror in many instances for official British Government policy. With the passing of two decades of double dealing the answers to many questions will be impossible to verify.

But many believe it is fair to assume that much of the strategic analysis implemented by Donaldson, and in particular that which related to South Down, was based as much on British Government objectives as it was for the development of Sinn Fein as an evolving electoral force.

The airbrushing out of the political frame in Downpatrick of a prominent member of Sinn Fein was the direct result of a sophisticated bugging operation sanctioned by Donaldson. The bugging revealed that the individual concerned had serious reservations about the true attitude of Sinn Fein towards the policing question and involvement with the District Police Partnership Boards.

It was Donaldson who acted as the prime mover in pushing for the re-alignment of the Sinn Fein party structures across County Down. He made his formal move during September once the official ending of military activities was endorsed by the IRA Army Council. From Kilkeel through to Newry the party controls are now operated by the South Armagh leadership.

The same South Armagh influence controls the Mid-Down area including Newcastle, Castlewellan and Kilcoo areas.

The man in charge of the development of Sinn Fein from its South Armagh base is a close relation of Conor Murphy, the Newry and Mourne MP. East Down however, including the greater Downpatrick district, covering Killough and Ardglass, is now directly under the control of the Belfast area. The East Down area was viewed by Donaldson as a prime source of information that could be passed through the intelligence monitoring sieve.

According to information provided to the Down Democrat a senior ranking member of Sinn Fein in the East Down area has been working as a so-called mole for the past five years on behalf of Donaldson.

The Sinn Fein activists who approached the Down Democrat claimed that there was a clear trend within the party to develop, in the main, individuals that had no direct linkage with any past hardline military activity.

"It was a policy of Donaldson to use those people as a front for his strategy on parades. He was in charge of the parades issue for the whole Six Counties. In every flashpoint parade situation his word was the law.

"He dictated what line was to be followed. In places like Ballynahinch last Summer when the view on the ground was that there should be a strong street protest it was Donaldson who pulled the plug on any such protest.

"It's now clear why he sounded as though he was pushing a line from the Brits. The Police always seemed to know when there was even a whisper about a possible protest." It was also claimed by the Sinn Fein members that there was great disillusionment over the stance taken by Caitriona Ruane in relation to the proposed National Park in the Mournes.

"She is out of step with people on the ground. Ruane is regarded as a publicity seeker who jumps on every opportunity to be photographed with the leadership. "The joke in the party is that she was a self appointed supporter of the Colombia Three on the basis that she was the only one in Sinn Fein who could speak Spanish.

"What the public don't know is that she is detested by some of the relatives of the men. "The mother of Pearse McAuley has made it clear she can't stand her. That's a fact. "Ruane is too arrogant to listen to what really matters to our voters.

"The party line she is pushing on the National Park is at odds with the views of the farming community in the Mournes. For generations they have fought to get control of their own land.

"In the past they were the victims of an exploitive landlord system. Now they are being given no option but to go back into the control of another type of feudal landlord, even if it is dressed up as the National Trust.

"The National Trust propaganda is exactly the kind of line peddled by the British Government. Sinn Fein should not be a mouthpiece for that propaganda. "But once Donaldson gave his stamp of approval Ruane and Co toed the party line."

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