20/09/2016 Spotlight


Hard-hitting investigations. Jennifer O'Leary investigates a clash between the state and the IRA in the intelligence war.

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Several months ago, I was contacted by a man who said


The details, he said, would take me into a world


For months now, I've been in contact with a man referred to in this


Our meetings have always been discreet and carefully planned.


Because Martin was a spy who brought Special Branch deep


The IRA has issued a statement announcing what it calls a complete


The IRA's guns were officially silent ? but a secret


Around this time, Martin, an IRA and Sinn Fein member,


says he contacted the RUC's confidential telephone service.


He's agreed to exclusively tell his story to Spotlight


He can't be identified because he fears for his safety.


I did it to prevent another outbreak of violence along the lines we've


Don't want to go back there and because of that, any


3,000 people killed - one life saved it would


A meeting was arranged and that was the start of regular


Usually the means of arranging a meeting were a phone


they would suggest a rendezvous point to which I would drive


to and then I would park the car and go somewhere with them


in their car and basically that is the way it happened all the time.


Few agents within the IRA have ever stepped forward to tell


In 2006, Denis Donaldson, a former senior Sinn Fein official


was murdered just months after admitting that he had been


I was recruited in the 1980s after a particularly,


after compromising myself during a vulnerable time in my life.


Since then, I have worked for British intelligence and the


Denis Donaldson's confession went beyond the personal.


His admission went to the heart of the secret intelligence war


Tonight, we examine the influence well-placed agents, like Donaldson,


We reveal what he did not tell his spy masters.


And new allegations as to who sanctioned his murder.


In talking to Special Branch, Martin was following in a long line


of informers and agents within the Republican movement.


For decades, the IRA dumped the bodies of suspected


The body was found in the back of a Peugeot 305 van.


In 1987, Belfast taxi driver Charlie McIlmurray was murdered


They'd claimed he'd been a paid RUC informer since his


His local priest said the IRA had made itself


If Charlie McIlmurray had been abducted by the security forces


and left dead with a hood over his head and his hands bound,


there would have been a mighty hue and cry.


The criticism was met with a defence of the IRA's


I think Mr McIlmurray, like anyone else living in west


Belfast, knows that the consequence for informing is death.


During the conflict, the IRA murdered over 60 people


it accused of secretly working for the Army, the RUC


IRA claimed he had been an informer since 1981...


Claimed he had been passing information to the police...


This morning, he was found dead here...


The IRA claimed she had been working as an informer


By 1997, some may have thought an IRA ceasefire ruled out any


But Martin and his handlers were fully aware of


My handlers would have given me good advice and a bit of training


but it's just basically, be very careful with yourself and how


I would have been nervous driving to public places for fear someone


would see me there and wondering what I was doing well away


from the normal places I would go to and that would perhaps make them


I was always very cautious and strict about security. The places we


would've met at would've been picked.


For decades, agents and informers undermined the IRA from the inside.


But the scale of infiltration has rarely been acknowledged.


In 2008, Denis Bradley and other members of the commission


on the past travelled to London to examine an archive of classified


It's an archive of most of the, of our Troubles, particularly


And it's an archive also of that world of intelligence


and who was running intelligence and who were the informers,


and who was in charge of it, and so forth.


At any one time, the security services were running


At any one time, throughout the Troubles.


Now, that's a lot of people within a small community of people.


In fact, security sources have told Spotlight that the figure of 800


is an underestimate, and is closer to the total number


of Special Branch informers and agents in Belfast alone.


The overall assumptions is that loyalism was easy.


That, you know, the loyalists kind of signed up, that there


What was surprising is that there appears to have been,


actually, a very large number of people who were informants.


Were being paid, or were giving information, erm,


And that the infiltration in the republican and the IRA,


was much greater than most of us had known.


Despite its tight cell structure, informers were rife within the IRA.


I do think that Sinn Fein, the IRA, created a myth.


That they were a group of people who were Republicans,


different from anybody else, they were a group unto themselves.


They were people with human flesh, with weaknesses,


and I think that the intelligence service has used those weaknesses...


now, looking back to, to a degree greater than,


Agents and informers provided a window into the IRA's internal


It, too, for decades was using intelligence to gain


As part of its counterintelligence strategy, the IRA targeted


and blackmailed people in positions of authority


We did see indicators at times, as it were,


of individuals coming under pressure to pass on information or attempts


Those that we did identify most within the civil service,


the Prison Service, the police service, the military even,


as I say, those people were all taken out of


Some were dismissed, others were, a limited number may be went forward


for prosecution but sometimes you, by prosecuting, then educate


the opposition too much as to what you know about them


and those people were quietly side lined and put into different


positions and jobs or else out of the job all together.


In the shadow of the peace process, the IRA's intelligence gathering


capabilities came under the spotlight.


A case in the late 1990s gave Special Branch an insight


into a particular IRA intelligence gathering strategy ? the use


of so called "clean skins" - persons with no apparent


militant Republican connections recruited to collect


In 1998, a young school teacher was convicted of spying for the IRA.


Rosa McLaughlin was just one part of a much bigger IRA spy-ring that


targeted key RUC personnel and police stations.


But she wasn't known to the police - until she was spotted in the company


Bobby Storey is one of the most prominent individuals


At a protest against Gerry Adams's arrest two years ago,


he paraphrased the Sinn Fein president's famous remark


We have a message for the British Government,


for the Irish Government, for the cabal that is out there,


In 1979, he was arrested in London for trying to break out the previous


leader from prison. He was of the -- sentenced to 18 years after a gun


attack on two British soldiers. He was credited for playing a crucial


role in the 1983 present escape. After his final release from jail in


1998, he became the IRA's Director of intelligence.


Known as 'Big Bobby', his activities and associations


were of huge interest to Special Branch.


Martin was one of those they used to spy on his activities.


What did you understand Bobby Storey's role was at that time


Oh, I knew what his role was - his role was director


In Northern Ireland, Martin says he was always


looking over his shoulder, and to minimise


the risk of exposure, he says he was often debriefed


Procedure would be that you would fly out to one


They would ring you and they would talk you into,


say central London, for example, you would get another phone call


to say, now I want you to go over and buy a paper.


And then when you got to that point you would notice a Special Branch


officer on the side of the road and he would tell you to follow him


He would walk you into some hotel and walk you into some room


where Special Branch were waiting for me.


At this stage, Martin was no longer an informer -


in a passive sense - he was now an agent.


He targeted specific individuals at the request of his handlers


Special Branch would always have half a dozen points to give me


whenever I would meet them, and these would have


You know, had I seen them, was I speaking to them,


what was I saying - that type of thing.


I would be fortunate enough to talk, to bump into the right people,


Denis Donaldson was also in the so-called inner circle.


Denis was a warm and friendly person, he was cheery.


He was very loyal and very trusting and very intelligent person.


Denis Donaldson earned his IRA credentials in 1970


during the so-called Battle of St Matthews in the Short Strand,


regarded as the IRA's first major engagement of the conflict.


He was interned along with figures like Gerry Adams and Bobby Sands.


He later served time for IRA bombing offences and spoke


about his experiences in this 1977 documentary.


It's a political war and the men are political prisoners,


Any of them that are in there are guilty.


They are in there because of their actions,


What does any young man who is 16, 17, or 18 know?


They don't normally read as a pastime, but whenever they come


into prison it encourages them to read, probably because there


Obviously, they come under the influences of others


who are probably more aware of, if you like, the political causes.


Donaldson went on to travel the world for the IRA - he built up


links with foreign revolutionary groups which could supply the IRA


In the late 1980s, he was dispatched to New York to work with


A leading member in the American group Noraid, which raises money


for Irish Republican causes, has been arrested and flown out


Noraid's former publicity director says he suspected Donaldson was not


He would answer the phone, use his own name, and talk


Would attract attention from the FBI or from anybody who might be


I complained a number of times to high ranking people in Ireland


and was told, try to get along with him.


Denis has impeccable army credentials.


And the more things I told about him, they were, look,


you have to work with him, trust him, for our sake,


for Ireland's sake, for the movement's sake,


try and get along with him and work with him.


Denis Donaldson later established a US branch


of the fundraising group Friends of Sinn Fein.


Sinn Fein's new office in Washington will consolidate their presence


here and act as a launching pad for their political advancement.


On his return to Belfast, he worked closely with senior IRA


A party insider told Spotlight that he was a fixer - someone


He also actively recruited on behalf of the IRA.


And all the time, he was also an agent of British intelligence.


Denis Donaldson was an agent of influence.


His key value as an agent was not the secrets he disclosed,


but the subtle influence he could bring to bear when key


decisions were being taken by those at the top of the IRA and Sinn Fein.


And agents of influence were among the most valuable assets of


The IRA was broken up into about nine different


So agents had to be selected and, if possible, placed or manipulated


into certain positions and allowed to develop and grow.


A well-placed and long-term agent could silently damage the IRA


If you looked upon agents and those, there's sort of a cancer within.


They can, they can sort of infect, as I say, other parts of the system.


Long-term agents of influence, like Donaldson,


were the state's foot soldiers in a counter-insurgency strategy


that some believe contributed to the strategic defeat of the IRA.


The intelligence world played an immense part in bringing


about, shall we say, a realisation within the Provisional


IRA that they had passed the post in terms of the armed conflict.


The war we lost was the propaganda war.


The propaganda side, we lost in the sense that a lot


of what is mythology now about, you know,


But there are many who believe that it was a dirty war,


it happened in the shadows and it contains many more secrets


Well, it happened in the shadows, but we operated as a police force


If there had have been a dirty war, then ask


yourself a simple question - if you're fighting a dirty war


with no restrictions, who would you be tackling?


The entire Provisional Army council basically came


But as a counterintelligence strategy, was it important


that the Army council and its membership, although fluid,


remained generally intact so that those individuals or people


close to those individuals could be


When that sort of certainty was there in relation to it.


The Army council was made up of people who, shall we say,


of varying ability, or varying influence.


And once you knew those abilities and influences,


then obviously you're quite right, those that sort of moved


in their midst or, as I say, attended to their needs,


or were able to sort of make commentary in their presence -


all those things have a collective influence over a period of time.


They encouraged ideas that were, shall we say, more of


a political desire as opposed to a military desire.


For decades, the RUC Special Branch, the Army, the security services,


as well as the Gardai, and at times the FBI,


all ran agents within the IRA and the Republican


Security sources have told Spotlight that, by 1994, a majority


of the seven-person IRA Army Council were effectively compromised


because of their proximity to high-level agents.


The Army Council's decisions were, they said, influenced by IRA


insiders who were also secret agents of the state.


Lord Alex Carlile most recently served as the Government's


independent reviewer of national security arrangements


It's very common for good security services and good police on special


operations to achieve high levels of infiltration.


I wasn't surprised at the level and success


We have been able to move to constitutionalism in a shorter


time than I expected when I first became involved in these issues


in '01 as Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.


I think Northern Ireland represents a political success.


I think the effectiveness of the intelligence services may


have been a factor in moving former terrorists to a constitutional path.


Lord Carlile also encountered Denis Donaldson,


who was then Sinn Fein's Head of Administration in Stormont.


I first met Denis Donaldson when he was effectively the manager


of the Sinn Fein parliamentary office in Stormont.


I visited him, I had a conversation with him and he helped me with one


or two journeys that I made in Northern Ireland in my role


of Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.


I didn't know that he had any other role.


He says he had no idea that Donaldson, like him,


you about anybody being an informer, they would never tell


you anything about that, that's how they operate.


You'll never know who the other informers are.


Denis Donaldson was paid to betray the Republican movement - but he


He did not tell them about a chef he befriended in New York


and helped move to Belfast, Larry Zaitschek.


Larry had worked in some of New York's best restaurants.


In Belfast, he ended up working in the canteen of


Spotlight understands that Denis Donaldson encouraged him


In Castlereagh, the man who became known as Larry the Chef


was so popular that he catered for parties at the homes


He also used the gym in Castlereagh, close


At times he even used the photocopier in that office.


2-20 was a hub for Special Branch operations - a round-the-clock


On St Patrick's night 2002, three intruders raided


Dozens of highly sensitive documents were stolen -


including the codenames of paramilitary agents,


their handlers, as well as a Persons of Interest register.


Castlereagh Police Station was sealed off all day after last


Alan McQuillan was then an Assistant Chief Constable.


It's hard to understand the blow this was, how bad it was,


Not only that we'd been burgled, but Special Branch had been burgled.


Pretty soon it became clear who was involved.


We had various sources reporting, and as a result of the information


that was coming in to us, we knew with absolute clarity


Bobby Storey, the IRA's Director of Intelligence, was identified


by police as the so-called mastermind behind


Larry the Chef, police believed, was the IRA's inside man.


They had spent a huge amount of time developing this over


a period of time, you know, with the chef, getting the chef


in, and he was allowed to bring guests into the premises,


and we believe that he arrived at the premises with people who were


Larry Zaitschek had returned to New York.


But investigators uncovered what they believed was evidence


connecting him to an IRA Intelligence Gathering Unit.


The PSNI began to make a case for extradition.


In New York, Larry Zaitschek always protested his innocence.


I was falsely accused of taking part in the break-in in Castlereagh.


The break-in took place at the office that housed


the Special Branches 24hr hotline for the informers


It was a highly political act and one that had absolutely


So I have become the PSNI's scapegoat for their


Special Branch uncovered Donaldson's connection to the American chef


after the break-in - their agent was the very man who had


brought Larry Zaitschek to Belfast in the first place.


It cast doubts on Donaldson's reliability and whose agenda


he was ultimately working for - his spy masters or the IRA.


Larry Zaitschek wasn't the only secret Donaldson kept


He knew about an IRA spy-ring at the heart of Government -


but for reasons that remain unexplained, he again failed


However, Special Branch had another agent who did.


The most striking information, out of all the information that


I would have got from Denis Donaldson, was


in connection with the so-called Stormontgate spy ring.


As a member of Sinn Fein, I would meet Denis from time to time


and during those conversations, Denis let the cat out of the bag,


so to speak, and he told me about the documentation


Denis told me that they were stealing sensitive documents


from the NIO office at Stormont and that it had been


He didn't specify what kind of material they were taking.


All I know was what he said was that they were taking


Crucially, it was Martin who told his handlers about an IRA


The common belief is that Denis Donaldson gave Special Branch


the information about the spy ring up at Stormont.


I was the person that tipped the police off about


Can you recall the reaction of your handlers when you told them


They got very excited from being laid back and dead casual,


all of a sudden when I mentioned that and got very enlivened


and excited about it, and that was that.


That was the start of finding out more that was the start


of concentrating on one subject from then on.


For the next twelve months, I seemed to work entirely on that and nothing


else but that subject, and what was happening in Stormont.


Based on source information, the police began a major


investigation into an IRA intelligence gathering operation.


We had identified that there was a major spy-ring.


And we had identified that they had managed to penetrate


Um, various other Government agencies and bodies


They were stealing large amounts of information.


Um, to catch them with that information and to bring


as many of them to court as we could.


Particularly the director and controller of


Bobby Storey was the main target of a major covert


surveillance operation - codenamed Operation Torsion.


Special Branch and MI5 bugged a laptop computer and a rucksack ?


and tracked both as they were moved between IRA safe houses.


We were throwing everything we had at this.


Um, I mean, we knew, for example, that they had stolen the entire HR


So, there were 3,000 prison officers and they'd got their names


We knew that they had other documents.


We didn't know the full scale and scope of it.


For months, Special Branch and MI5 were watching and listening


to the IRA - and receiving updates from their inside man.


I reported regularly over months and I know why


they waited so long ? one, hopefully to catch those involved


red-handed, but more importantly they wanted to arrest Bobby Storey


in the act of carrying some of the stolen documentation.


By early October, the PSNI were on the brink


Whose call was it to move at the particular time


Having looked at everything and said, "No, we can't


I then went and saw the Chief Constable and I explained


to him where we were and what we were going to do, and the possible


And Hugh's position was quite simple.


This is going to have big political ramifications.


Hours before the raids, Martin says he met his handlers.


The night before the police raided the homes of Denis Donaldson


and others and Stormont, I met my handlers, just to confirm


Donaldson was on the brink of arrest ? something that


could jeopardise his status as an agent.


But Spotlight understands that he was now considered


to be a 'rogue' agent - he had not told his handlers about


the spy-ring ? and the relationship was about to be terminated.


At first light, the PSNI made their move.


The rucksack, which had been bugged, led the police to


The satchel was in his house was the target.


Unfortunately for Denis, he was holding the parcel when we moved.


Computer disks the PSNI had expected to find were missing.


And a decision was then made to search Donaldson's


I phoned Hugh and said, "Look, this is the situation.


"We have to search the office at Stormont.


"I am going to instruct them to do that as a gold commander.


"We do what we have to do but we'll do ? let's do it lowkey."


So I went back and sent out a message to them to say, right,


I need this done in a very low key way.


I want some non-uniform officers to go up and search the office,


and I wanted them on this basis so we do the minimum


The search at Stormont was anything but low-key.


This is a Sinn Fein minister and these are the police who have


just finished raiding her party's offices at parliament buildings.


I had forgotten that the only search trained officers


Another commander in Belfast said, I can't do this because it's


So he sent uniform officers to do the search.


And I didn't find out about that until it was too late.


I feel bad about that because I should have


The so-called Stormontgate scandal ultimately changed the course


of politics in Northern Ireland when, just a week later,


the Assembly was suspended and direct rule re-imposed.


Sam Pollock, a former chief executive of the Police Ombudsman,


is one of many who believe that the raids were


deliberately calculated to collapse the institutions.


The timing of Stormontgate, the encouragement, the advice,


and the civil service, erm, Northern Ireland Office,


Trimble had, in a sense, passed his 'sell by' date.


And senior civil servants were being encouraged to


quote/unquote "bring the DUP and Sinn Fein in from the cold".


But Alan McMullan insists that the police operation was not


I was quite aware that this, that it was likely that this might


precipitate a collapse of the Assembly because that


would be the impact of it on unionist politics.


But the line that we'd agreed was, look,


There's serious unlawful activity going on here.


We're going to address it, and as I said, Hugh was very firm


that the politics aren't a matter for us.


The material recovered gave the PSNI a remarkable insight into the IRA.


You had a huge mix of documents here.


You had Government documents that had been stolen by the IRA.


You had material generated inside the IRA, their


They required all their intelligence units in the different areas


in Northern Ireland to type up a report every month


and send it in to the centre, summarising what they'd been doing.


And these were all kept in a folder in the rucksack.


So you pull out a little folder in relation to say, Fermanagh,


and there was all the things they'd been doing for the last 12 months,


It was shocking in terms of the scale and extent


The haul included a map and codes of the entire


security system at the Northern Ireland Office.


Personal - including sexual - details about Unionist politicians.


The IRA's own documents showed that it had its own live network


of so-called friendlies - people working in a wide range


of Government departments and public bodies, all feeding back information


I do recall being briefed that this had caused absolute consternation


within the whole Republican movement.


I mean, we came within an ace of arresting exactly who we wanted to.


We didn't quite get there, but it was very shocking


Denis Donaldson and his son-in-law Ciaran Kearney were


However, the target of the operation, Bobby Storey,


You have to play a long game in these things.


It's not just about prosecuting people - it's about stopping


In a solicitor's statement, Bobby Storey refuted


all the allegations in this programme.


Denis Donaldson, Ciaran Kearney, and another man were later charged


with having documents likely to be of use to terrorists.


Gerry Adams and supporters gathered outside the court.


I'm sure that, in the fullness of time, when all the dust


settles down, that Denis Donaldson will walk free.


Gerry Adams' prediction proved correct.


In late 2005, the so-called Stormontgate case collapsed.


Ciaran Kearney, Denis Donaldson and another man


Full disclosure in court would have compromised Denis Donaldson.


Spotlight understands that the case collapsed in order to keep his role


But Donaldson gave nothing away and stuck to the Sinn Fein party line.


We were looking forward to a trial because, we were confident


from the outset that even if the case had gone to a full


trial, we would have been found not guilty.


Would you be happy to come back here and work after what happened?


I'd work anywhere that the party asked me to work, doesn't matter


whether it's Stormont or the Falls Road Sinn Fein office.


But Donaldson's secrets were about to be his downfall.


The next evening, uniformed PSNI officers visited Donaldson's home


to deliver a threat notification message -


It reportedly stated that members of the media believed


The police had a statutory duty to report such a threat.


In this case, they also had a duty of care towards their agent.


It must have been very difficult for the, erm, police,


or the security services to know what to do.


In any situation where there's a risk to an informer being exposed


then the police would be very proactive in moving that person


to secure to a safe place probably out the jurisdiction,


and giving them lifelong protection and support.


I would have apprehensions as to how quickly they cut


clean from Dennis and left him in a situation that was


He was completely vulnerable from whatever, it doesn't


matter who killed him, and it was almost predictable.


The Police Ombudsman is reinvestigating a number of issues


relating to Denis Donaldson's case ? including the background


to the threat message and how he was warned that his cover


We simply don't know and may never know why he didn't seek


Instead he turned to the republican movement ? the people he had


In a meeting two days later at this Sinn Fein office,


he was asked directly if he was an agent of the State.


Gerry Adams was in the same building that day.


The Donaldson meeting had been arranged at the request of the IRA,


which planned to interrogate him at another location


Four days later, Gerry Adams publicly announced that Donaldson


He described the revelation as a scoop.


You'll know that our party has expelled Denis Donaldson,


who's a long standing member, after we uncovered and he admitted


that he was working as a British agent.


The Sinn Fein President continued to deny there had ever been


There was no Sinn Fein spy-ring at Stormont.


And then when we saw different people being arrested and charged,


I certainly instinctively knew that there was somebody wrong


Hours later, Denis Donaldson, accompanied by his solicitor,


I worked as a Sinn Fein Assembly group administrator in parliament


buildings at the time of the PSNI raid on the Sinn Fein offices


in October 2002, the so-called Stormontgate affair.


Denis Donaldson, Martin says, had signed his own death warrant.


As soon as he uttered the words, I knew that he would be killed


because that's the only, that's the only sentence or penalty


Donaldson also denied there had ever been an IRA spy-ring.


I was not involved in any Republican spy-ring at Stormont.


The so-called Stormontgate affair was a scam and a fiction,


it never existed, it was created by Special Branch.


I deeply regret my activities with British intelligence


I apologise to anyone who has suffered as a result


of my activities, as well to my former comrades and especially


to my family who've become victims in all of this.


Donaldson's statement sent shockwaves throughout


Even Martin, his IRA and Sinn Fein colleague


and fellow State agent, was taken aback.


Denis would have been one of the least people you'd ever


I don't know any informer that was ever spared,


they were all executed and I think regardless of whatever speculation


you might have heard about Denis, they always intended to kill him


and for what he'd done and to set an example to other informers


Denis Donaldson moved to Donegal, where he continued to be debriefed


by Republicans about his role as an agent.


He never returned to Belfast, despite public assurances


from senior Republicans that he was safe to do so.


He can do whatever he wants, frankly, and that's something


But Donaldson's admission had angered many within the IRA ?


Donaldson helped to set up Sinn Fein structures in South Armagh.


At times, he was also an intermediary between IRA leaders


there and the Republican leadership in Belfast.


Few outsiders were ever trusted by the IRA in South Armagh.


But Donaldson was on the word of senior Republicans in Belfast.


Sources told Spotlight that, following Donaldson's admission


that he was a British agent, the IRA in South Armagh began


to blame him for operations that had been compromised.


It's claimed that they also suspected that he had planted


a number of covert listening devices that they had uncovered


Both Republican and security sources told us that the IRA in South Armagh


was pushing for action against Donaldson.


In Donegal, Donaldson was living on borrowed time.


For almost three months, Donaldson remained


Until the Sunday World journalist Hugh Jordan tracked him down to this


cottage and secretly recorded their conversation.


I was thinking that the press conference in Dublin was so short


that you never got a chance to say too much.


Well what holds for the future for you now then?


How did you find out that Denis Donaldson was


I met a man in Belfast, who I knew for many years.


No, it was - it wasn't, it was, erm...


A man with a very Republican ideas I drove from Gweedore down


to Glenties and was snooping around, not really getting very far.


And I was sitting reading the Irish Times in my car,


and I suddenly glanced up, and down the main street


in Glenties was Denis Donaldson, crossing the road.


Denis Donaldson told Hugh Jordan that now his whereabouts were known,


Well, I'll not be staying here too long now.


Hugh Jordan was accused of setting Donaldson up for murder.


The responsibility for Denis Donaldson's death


lies solely with the people who pulled the trigger


Do you think that your article may have focused the minds


The article may just have been the catalyst that


Looking back, I think his fate was sealed.


It was a question of when were they going to do it.


Two weeks later, Donaldson was murdered.


Sinn Fein official Denis Donaldson, has been found shot dead


In a statement days later, the IRA denied any involvement.


But security sources told Spotlight that intelligence received,


after Donaldson's murder, from covert surveillance and agents


Spotlight understands that the South Armagh IRA


Thomas "Slab" Murphy insisted that


And that the IRA in south Armagh commissioned the operation that led


What's less clear, according to sources, is who carried out


the operation that resulted in his death.


Martin says he also told his Special Branch handlers what he had


Not too long after Denis was murdered, I was told


the IRA had killed Denis not anybody else.


I gave that information to the Special Branch.


What was your handler's reaction to that information?


They were just totally mute, there wasn't any acknowledgement


of what I'd said, subject was changed to something else.


they and the whole status quo had seen Denis' death as internal


housekeeping, and they were happy enough to put up with that.


I believe that they acted on some information and didn't act on other


information because it was too politically sensitive to do so.


Martin believes that the shooting of Denis Donaldson was sanctioned


by the man at the top of the Republican movement - Gerry Adams.


Spotlight understands that by 2006 Gerry Adams had stepped aside


But Martin claims that Adams was consulted on all matters.


I know from my experience in the IRA that murders have to be


They have to be given approval by the leadership of the IRA,


the political leadership of the IRA and the military


Who are you specifically referring to?


In a statement, Gerry Adams' solicitor said his client


had no knowledge of - and no involvement whatsoever -


He added his client categorically denies he was consulted


about what he describes as an alleged IRA Army Council


decision, or that he had the final say on what had been sanctioned.


In 2009, the dissident Republican group the Real IRA


claimed responsibility for Donaldson's murder.


But Martin is dismissive of the claim.


I believe the Real IRA, who claimed it three years later,


and repair a tarnished image which has evolved.


Denis Donaldson's death is the subject of an ongoing murder


In July, a 74-year-old man was charged with withholding


information in connection with his murder.


Spotlight understands that the Garda investigation is focused


on a separate individual, originally from County Donegal, now


based outside the Republic, who has been described as sympathetic


14 years on, no-one has ever been prosecuted for the break-in


The case against Larry Zaitschek, accused of involvement,


He continues to strongly deny his involvement


We chased bout traced Larry to his own restaurant business. He declined


to be interviewed on camera. He said what had happened


was a long time ago and he has He says he stopped working


for Special Branch in the years I stopped because I didn't feel


there was anything left They were quite happy about that


and thanked me for years of service. I've absolutely no regrets


about my time working as an agent Denis Donaldson took his secrets


about his double life to his grave. A journal that he was encouraged


to write by Republicans as part of his debriefing process


is being retained by Gardai. Spotlight understands that Donaldson


wrote about himself and others - as well as what he did


as an IRA man and as an agent Spotlight also understands that


relevant information from Donaldson's private journal has


been made available to the Police Ombudsman's


investigators. Their report is expected to be


published later this year. Denis Donaldson openly


admitted his role as an agent. But the identities of other


Republican informers and agents during the decades of conflict


remain highly classified. Denis Bradley says that full


disclosure would come at cost too When I and others were involved


in doing the past, there was strong representation that all these files


should be thrown open. It's an argument we


heard and rejected. We think that the hurt


of that is too great, and that it should not be inflicted


on this society. You're talking about


a lot of families. And you bring more and more,


more and more pain Britain's counterterrorism


strategy in Northern Ireland was so successful, some say,


that it forced the IRA In a sense, the intelligence war


brought the protagonists They applied all the technology


that was at their disposal. They gave it, as they would see


it, their best shot. And I think that realisation


came home to the IRA leadership in the late


70s, early 80s. So the security side won,


in that respect. Thereafter, politics,


in a sense, took over. Informers and agents not only


betrayed the IRA's secrets, but some were used, over decades,


to influence its strategy For Republicans, the scale


of infiltration within the IRA Was the IRA rendered


ineffectual by many of its own? Members who were also informers


and agents of the state? Did the secret intelligence war


force the IRA to renounce violence? Did spies within its own ranks bring


the IRA in from the cold?


Hard-hitting investigations on the stories that matter in Northern Ireland.

Jennifer O'Leary investigates a clash between the state and the IRA in the intelligence war.

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