05 April 2006

Daily Ireland Editorial: Killers are hostile to peace process

Daily Ireland

Editor: Colin O’Carroll

The full facts about the death of Denis Donaldson are still to emerge, but whatever the truth it must be remembered that this if first and foremost a massive personal tragedy for the Donaldson family who have had a heavy cross to bear since the grim facts of his secret life emerged in the wake of the ‘Stormontgate’ fiasco.
The IRA has said that it had nothing to do with the killing, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has condemned it outright. The DUP said that eyes would now be turning in the direction of ‘Sinn Féin/IRA’. The eyes that are turning in that direction have a history of making considerable political capital out of unproven allegations – that they should fall on this with ill-disguised glee is hardly surprising. Still, there’s something deeply unpleasant at the maelstrom of fact-free disseminating and spin that broke out even before the body in Glenties had been officially identified. At this stage no-one knows who killed Denis Donaldson except those who carried out the killing and those who ordered it. But in the absence of hard information, we are entitled to ask, cui bono? Who benefits from the death of a man who proved such a massive embarrassment for the republicans that he worked for in the open, and the British spooks that he worked for in secret?
For the peace process to be sucked into another debilitating round of claim and counter-claim about a high-profile crime is the last thing that mainstream republicans want at this time. The modalities for the resumption of the political institutions in the North have not yet been worked out, but the increasing momentum towards the restoration of power-sharing is undeniable. Add to that increasing confidence about the prospects of Sinn Féin in the South, where hysterical rejections of the party as potential coalition government partners are being gradually replaced by the quiet but unmistakeable shuffle of stances being repositioned, and you wonder why on earth mainstream republicans would consider the setting of an old score to be worth the candle. None of this rules out, of course, the very real possibility that an individual republican’s anger and animus might have been of sufficient depth to drive him to carry out this murder.
Let’s consider for a moment how much the British intelligence services, Mr Donaldson’s long-time employer, might have to benefit from his death. In the years since the IRA ceasefire the attrition rate among those paramilitaries – mostly loyalist, it has to be said – who were in the pay of the British state has been chilling. The secrets that Denis Donaldson held he now takes with him to the grave, just as so many did before him. As so often happens, this high-profile crime took place just as a significant political initiative was imminent – in this case an important announcement on the way forward due to be made by Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair in Armagh tomorrow.
That will most please the securocrats who are intent on bringing this process down.

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