Irish Republican News · September 24, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Sinn Fein furious over new BBC smear
Sinn Fein furious over new BBC smear

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A new claim broadcast by BBC Spotlight journalist Jennifer O’Leary against Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has been rejected by police and could provoke a libel action by Mr Adams.

In a programme broadcast on Tuesday, Ms O’Leary interviewed a man who claimed to have been a British state agent within the Provisional IRA. The man, who used the pseudonym ‘Martin’, alleged that Mr Adams had sanctioned the killing of Denis Donaldson, a long-standing and senior British agent within Sinn Fein.

The programme also claimed prominent South Armagh republican Slab Murphy had demanded the double agent, once a friend of hunger striker Bobby Sands, be killed.

Donaldson ultimately died in a gun attack on his Donegal hideaway in April 2006, months after he admitted working for the RUC/PSNI Special Branch for two decades. However, both the 26 County Gardai police and the PSNI this week ruled out any involvement by the Provisional movement. They repeated that the focus of their continuing investigation has been on the breakaway ‘Real IRA’.

One garda investigator reportedly described the Spotlight claim as “a pile of cr**”.

Ms O’Leary is the same journalist who previously highlighted allegations by west Belfast woman Mairia Cahill against Mr Adams in connection with her allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of a former member of the Provisional IRA. Just as in that case, the claims have been seized upon by right-wing and anti-republicans elements in the 26 Counties, and again likely for electoral purposes.

“Clearly there are elements of Gerry Adams’ past that only he can explain,” said Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Mr Donaldson’s own family have said they do not believe the Provisional IRA killed him, or that his shooting was authorised by Gerry Adams. A lawyer for the Donaldson family spoke to the BBC on Friday after meeting Garda Deputy Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne and two other senior police officers.

Ciaran Shiels, a lawyer for the Donaldson family, said the police provided an update on progress in their investigation during a meeting in Belfast. He described the claim of involvement by the Provisional IRA as “absolute nonsense”.

Mr Shiels said: “It just does not stand up. It does not marry in any way with the lines of inquiry that have been progressed by the (Gardai) or by the the (Six County police) ombudsman.”

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has accused British state agents of being behind the allegations. Warning of possible legal action against the BBC over the claims, Mr Adams said he specifically and categorically denied them.

“That the BBC would broadcast unsubstantiated allegations from an anonymous person, a self-confessed agent, about me, I think it very, very low journalism indeed,” Mr Adams said.

He added: “If my legal advisers give me the type of guidance that I require I will sue them. I’m not reluctant to sue.

“I have taken a number of cases against various periodicals, I got a number of corrections and apologies from a number of outlets. If my legal advisers tell me I have a case then I will take a case.”

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness branded the allegation against his party colleague as “total rubbish”.

“The fact is the Donaldson family are actually very close to all of us within the leadership of Sinn Fein,” said Stormont’s Deputy First Minister.

“And I think the fact that dissident republicans claimed responsibility for this and it appears for the last 10 years the Garda Siochana in Donegal have been investigating that line of inquiry I think gives total nonsense to the allegation that was made principally by someone who appears to be a paid agent, and I use the word ‘agent’ in inverted commas.”

He said the documentary lacked credibility and insisted the claims would not damage Sinn Fein.

“Sinn Fein have had to deal with programmes like this for the last 30-odd years,” he said.

“The important thing for us is the wisdom and intelligence of the electorate is there for everybody to see. Even against the backdrop of recurring programmes over 30 years, just a few weeks ago the electorate returned us with the DUP to take the government of the north further on, so I don’t believe it’s going to damage Sinn Fein in the least.”

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has said Ms O’Leary should make the identity of her alleged source known to police as part of their ongoing investigation.

She said: “I know journalists jealously guard their sources. It is one of the central pillars of the work you do and there is good reason for it.

“But in circumstances like this where there is a live Garda investigation, if people claim that they have information or evidence the most appropriate people to bring that to is An Garda Siochana.”

The programme also featured attempts by former RUC/PSNI figures to reassert their position in regard to the controversies which dominated northern politics a decade ago, the Castlereagh break-in and the ‘Stormontgate’ scandal.

Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore, County Offaly, Mr Adams: “There is an attempt here to re-write history.”

“We have to look at what’s behind this agenda,” he said. “The person who made this allegation - an anonymous, unnamed, self-professed agent of the British state. So whose agenda is that serving? This is an attempt to rewrite history.

“There are elements within the British system who will never be reconciled with the fact that we have got a peace process and that Sinn Fein are in the leadership of that process, along with others.”

© 2016 Irish Republican News