Azara Blog: British government arrested their own agent

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Date published: 2005/12/16

The BBC says:

A veteran Sinn Fein figure expelled from the party has said he was a British agent for two decades.

Denis Donaldson headed the party's administration office at Stormont before his October 2002 arrest over an alleged spy ring led to its collapse.

Mr Donaldson said he was recruited in the 1980s as a paid agent and deeply regretted his activities.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams claimed he was about to be "outed" by the same "securocrats" who set him up as a spy.

Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive collapsed in October 2002 following the arrests of three men, who had all charges against them dropped "in the public interest" last week.

The government said on Friday that the Stormont raid more than three years ago was solely to prevent paramilitary intelligence gathering.

The Northern Ireland Office said it "completely rejected any allegation that the police operation in October 2002 was for any reason other than to prevent paramilitary intelligence gathering".

It said "the fact remains that a huge number of stolen documents were recovered by the police".

In a statement on Friday, Mr Donaldson said: "I was a British agent at the time. I was recruited in the 1980s after compromising myself during a vulnerable time in my life.

"Since then I have worked for British intelligence and the RUC/PSNI Special Branch. Over that period, I was paid money."

Mr Donaldson said the "so-called Stormontgate affair" was "a scam and a fiction invented by (police) Special Branch".

At a news conference on Friday, Mr Adams claimed Mr Donaldson had been approached by police officers earlier this week and told he was about to be "outed" as an informer.

He said Mr Donaldson was not under any threat from the republican movement.

Police sources earlier reiterated that the "Stormontgate" affair began because a paramilitary organisation was involved in the systematic gathering of information and targeting or individuals.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said if "one of Sinn Fein's top administrators in Stormont turns out to be a British spy, this is as bizarre as it gets".

Completely scandalous. The British government arrests one of their own spies for alleged illegal spying and the whole peace process in Northern Ireland practically disintegrates. Heads should roll, all the way up to cabinet level, but of course they will not. It would all be laughable if it had not had so many serious consequences.

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