Donaldson inquest adjourned as family head to the high court over delays

Denis Donaldson
Denis Donaldson

Denis Donaldson’s family are going to the High Court in an attempt to speed up the inquest which continues to be delayed 10 years after he was killed.

The 18th sitting of the inquest was told in Letterkenny that “pre-action” letters about the intended High Court proceedings had been sent to Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, Coroner Dr Denis McCauley, the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the gardai.

Family solicitor Ciaran Shiels, of Madden and Finucane, told the inquest the letters were sent on March 31st. The recipients had 14 days to reply which ends tomorrow.

Donaldson family members, who had boycotted the inquest during recent sittings, were at today's hearing but they left half-way through following delivery of further instructions to their solicitor.

Mr Shiels said the family has instructed his not to return to future sittings until there is a ruling from the High Court."

He said the High Court action was being taken because the family considered the continued adjournments were an unlawful breach of their rights to a concluded inquest.

Mr Shiels told the hearing that a Garda investigation of Donaldson's murder refused to interview his British government handler known as Lenny stating they know he contacted Denis when he was in Donegal.

Stephen Byrne, for the State, said what was at stake in the continued Garda adjournment applications was an attempt not to contaminate criminal proceedings.

Supt Michael Finan said five times Garda investigators had travelled outside the jurisdiction in their inquiries and that as recently as March they had obtained evidential material which was being processed.

He asked for a further adjournment.

Coroner Dr McCauley said he was happy the criminal investigation was "very much up and running and accelerating."

He adjourned the inquest further until August 31.

Donaldson, 56, was shot dead by gunmen in a rural cottage near Glenties on April 4, 2006.

The Real IRA claimed it was responsible.

The former senior Sinn Fein official had confessed to spying for police Special Branch in Northern Ireland and secret service MI5 just months before he was killed.