16 April 2006

Cops took gun from Donaldson in 2002

Sunday Life

Alan Murray
16 April 2006

THE PSNI has now confirmed that it took a legally-held firearm off murdered Sinn Fein official Denis Donaldson in 2002.

The gun was taken from the MI5 agent's home after sensitive security documents were uncovered at the house in west Belfast.

Donaldson is believed to have been among the 200 plus members of Sinn Fein and the IRA, including many convicted terrorists, who were granted firearms certificates after the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998 in a 'side deal' negotiated with the British Government.

Donaldson, who was murdered in Donegal two weeks ago, had a terrorist conviction for his involvement in an IRA attack in 1971.

That conviction would normally debar someone from obtaining a certificate to keep a weapon.

But Sunday Life has learned that the gun that could have saved his life in the attack at his hideaway in Glenties, Donegal had been taken from him over three years ago.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Donaldson had held a Beretta pistol and possibly a shotgun for hunting purposes at his Aitnamona Crescent home when it was raided in October 2002, in an operation to recover sensitive government documents stolen from Stormont.

Transcripts of conversations between Tony Blair and George Bush and personal details of at least one Army officer's car were recovered.

Last month in a statement the police said that no firearm was recovered during the planned search of Donaldson's home.

But when Sunday Life pressed about whether Donaldson had been allowed to possess a legally held firearm and what had happened to it, the PSNI issued another brief statement last week saying a gun had been taken into custody sometime after the search of his west Belfast home.

"A weapon lawfully held at an address at Aitnamona Crescent in Belfast was taken into police possession. It is not outstanding. It was one weapon and it was lawfully held," the statement read.

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