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Last Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
IRA 'not behind' ex-spy killing
Denis Donaldson pictured at his remote cottage (Picture: Sunday World)

The family of a former British spy has said they do not believe the IRA was responsible for his murder.

Ex-Sinn Fein official Denis Donaldson, 56, was found shot dead in a remote cottage in County Donegal on Tuesday.

He had been expelled from the party in 2005 after admitting he was a paid British agent.

Mr Donaldson's family said they did not know who killed him but blamed the "activities of British intelligence" for their "difficult situation".

In a statement, the family said: "On Tuesday 4th April, Denis was murdered. We do not know by whom.

"But the difficult situation which our family has been put in is the direct result of the activities of the Special Branch and British Intelligence agencies.

"We acknowledge the speedy statement from the IRA disassociating themselves from this murder. We believe that statement to be true.

"We would ask those politicians and media commentators who have sought to use this tragedy to score cheap political points to stop doing so."

In a statement released by a Belfast law firm, the family also blamed the media for reporting details of Mr Donaldson's new location.

"In December, Denis left his home in Belfast and moved to Donegal, where it was his desire that he be left alone to rebuild his life.

"Unfortunately, he continued to be pursued by sections of the media, some of whom gave details about his whereabouts."

Irish police searching for clues
4 October 2002: Three men including Mr Donaldson arrested following raid on Sinn Fein's Stormont office. Power-sharing executive collapses and government restores direct rule to NI a week later
8 December 2005: Charges against three men dropped "in the public interest"
16 December 2005: Sinn Fein says Mr Donaldson was a "British agent" and expels him from the party: he later says he worked as a spy since the 1980s
Government and police reject the party's claim raid was politically motivated
4 April 2006: Mr Donaldson found shot dead in County Donegal

The family said Mr Donaldson was a loving husband, a devoted father and grandfather and a good brother.

"The events of recent months have been very difficult for our family. In the next few days, Denis will return home to Belfast to be with his family for one last time and to be buried."

Irish police have been carrying out searches in the vicinity of the remote cottage near the village of Glenties where Mr Donaldson's body was found.

Post mortem results have indicated he died from a shotgun wound to the chest. It said there were other injuries to his body consistent with shotgun blasts, including a severe injury to his right hand.

Police removed a car at the scene on Thursday.

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

He and two others were acquitted of charges 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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