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Donaldson cooperating with SF since revelation

(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)

British agent Denis Donaldson has been cooperating with Sinn Féin since he was outed a week ago, The Irish News has learned.

It is understood the party's former head of administration at Stormont has been briefing Sinn Féin officials on his 20-year involvement with Special Branch and MI5 in a series of meetings in the Republic.

It has been suggested that Mr Donaldson received £35,000 for his role as a double agent, although it is now understood that the real figure could be more than £100,000.

Republican sources have also insisted that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were unaware of Mr Donaldson's double life as they posed for photographs with him on the steps of Stormont Buildings less than 24 hours after spy charges against the 55-year-old were dropped.

Thirty-six hours later a sequence of events began to unfold which would see Mr Donaldson's 30-year career within the republican movement left in tatters.

At 5pm on Saturday uniformed police officers called to Mr Donaldson's west Belfast home claiming he was about to be exposed by the media as an informer.

While Mr Donaldson informed his Sinn Féin superiors that night he did not come under suspicion at that stage.

However, during a meeting with senior republicans on Monday December 12, Bobby Sands's former prison pal finally admitted his spying role.

Within hours Mr Adams was forced to inform the Sinn Féin leadership of the biggest spy scandal within its ranks in 30 years.

Over the next four days Mr Donaldson began to provide the republican leadership with more details about how he passed on Sinn Féin secrets to the British government during some of the most critical periods in the peace process.

On Thursday December 16 Special Branch made a final attempt to bring its agent in from the cold.

In a telephone call to Mr Donaldson's home a Special Branch handler who identified himself as 'Lenny' is believed to have said: "Do you remember me? I understand you have had a visit from our uniform boys.

"I think it's time we got together."

'Lenny' then gave Mr Donaldson a mobile phone number to contact him.

Within hours Mr Donaldson had fled with his family to Dublin.

The following day the 55-year-old publicly admitted being a paid British agent for more than 20 years. Since then he has not been seen in public and is still understood to be in hiding.

However, a senior republican source last night (Thursday) confirmed that Mr Donaldson has continued to meet with senior Sinn Féin officials over the last seven days, providing detailed accounts of his life as a British agent.

Those admissions are now being assessed by the Sinn Féin leadership, although the source insisted that Mr Donaldson was a 'free agent' and was not being coerced.

Last night a Garda spokeswoman refused to state if it was aware of Mr Donaldson's whereabouts or whether his life was in danger.

December 24, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 23, 2005 edition of the Irish News.

This article appears thanks to the Irish News. Subscribe to the Irish News