06 April 2006

Donaldson murder scene examined


Irish police are to continue examining the scene in County Donegal where ex-Sinn Fein official and British agent Denis Donaldson was murdered.

Members of the Garda's water and dog units will take part in the search.

Post mortem results indicated Mr Donaldson died from a shotgun wound to the chest, said police.

Mr Donaldson's body was taken away in a hearse

Other injuries to his body were consistent with shotgun blasts, including a severe injury to his right hand, according to the post mortem.

The IRA has denied involvement in the murder of the ex-Sinn Fein man, who was found shot dead following a break-in at a house in County Donegal on Tuesday.

Irish Premier Bertie Ahern said Mr Donaldson was warned that his life could be in danger.

He said police became aware of his whereabouts in January, but he did not request any protection.

Mr Donaldson, 56, was found dead in a room in a remote cottage near the village of Glenties.

He had been expelled from Sinn Fein in 2005 after admitting he was a paid British spy.

At a news conference in Donegal on Wednesday, Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn refused to be drawn on details of the killing, or on whether there had been a specific threat to Mr Donaldson.

She said the door had been forced and a window broken in the property. She added they were keeping an open mind about the inquiry.

Mr Donaldson's death came ahead of Thursday's visit to Northern Ireland by Tony Blair and Mr Ahern to unveil their blueprint for reviving the assembly at Stormont.

The British and Irish prime ministers insisted they would not let the murder derail the political process.

Mr Donaldson moved out of his Belfast home last December, and had been living in the run-down cottage which had neither electricity nor running water.

He had been Sinn Fein's head of administration at Stormont before his 2002 arrest over alleged spying led to its collapse.

Charges against him and two others were dropped last December "in the public interest".

One week later he admitted being recruited in the 1980s as a paid British agent.

He said there had not been a republican spy ring at Stormont.

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