STORMONTGATE is the name given to the controversy surrounding an
Provisional Irish Republican Army
Provisional Irish Republican Army spy ring and
intelligence-gathering operation based in Stormont , the parliament
Northern Ireland . The term was coined in October 2002
after the arrest of
Sinn Féin 's
Northern Ireland Assembly group
Denis Donaldson , his son-in-law Ciarán Kearney, and
former porter William Mackessy for intelligence-gathering on 4 October
* 1 Immediate repercussions
* 2 Charges dropped
* 2.1 British agent
* 3 Political fallout
* 4 Donaldson killed
* 5 See also
* 6 References
Ten days after the arrests, devolved government in Northern Ireland
arising from the
Good Friday Agreement collapsed. The raid involved
"scores" of Police Service of
Northern Ireland officers who entered
the building to remove two computer disks from the
Sinn Féin offices.
Thousands of documents were reportedly discovered by the police in
On 8 December 2005 the charges against all three men were dropped by
Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service . Lawyers for the
service said that "the prosecution for the offences in relation to the
accused are no longer in the public interest".
Sinn Féin claimed
that the prosecutions had been politically motivated and were dropped
because of lack of evidence. Some unionists suggested that dropping
the charges was a "reward" for the final act of decommissioning by the
Provisional IRA announced on 26 September 2005.
On 16 December 2005,
Sinn Féin president
Gerry Adams announced to a
press conference in
Dublin that Donaldson had been a spy in the pay of
MI5 for over twenty years. This was confirmed by Donaldson in a
statement to broadcast media outlet RTÉ shortly afterwards.
In his statement Donaldson described the alleged
Sinn Féin spy ring
in Stormont as "a scam and a fiction". Adams has asserted that both
the planned leaking of Donaldson's name as an informer and the
Stormontgate allegations were engineered by the security
forces to discredit
Sinn Féin and cause a crisis in the peace
process. The affair had been investigated by Nuala O\'Loan , the
Police Ombudsman , who ruled that the raid was not
politically motivated. O'Loan found that the "decision to seek a
warrant authorising a search of a specific desk in the Sinn Féin
offices was reasonable, proportionate and legal" but was critical of
the number of vehicles used and the scale of the police operation.
Normally the Ombudsman's office is given access to all relevant
codenames and reports relating to informants. O'Loan was unaware that
Donaldson was an informant. Following the public unmasking of
Donaldson, O'Loan stood by her 2004 judgement on the search.
Both the Irish and British governments have ruled out inquiries into
Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) of the Republic of
Mary Harney said: "I think the last thing we probably need
right now is some form of inquiry which may not get very far".
British Secretary of State for
Peter Hain described
the unfolding scandal as turbulent, but said that inquiries "cost
hundreds of millions of pounds. I am not going down that road when it
is quite clear that it is not in the public interest to do so.
Bertie Ahern described events surrounding the incident as
Immediately after the December revelation, unidentified security
sources said that a second informer acting independently of Donaldson
disclosed the alleged spy ring. Former IRA prisoner and critic of
Anthony McIntyre , has claimed that a more important
British agent is operating in the organisation, and that Donaldson was
Sinn Féin to deceive people into thinking that the most
serious infiltration had been ended.
However Donaldson denied the existence of any sort of spy ring
stating "The plan was to collapse the institutions to save Trimble –
David Trimble was trying to out- DUP the DUP and in the end the DUP
swallowed him up. The whole idea was to get Trimble off the hook and
get republicans the blame. But it didn't work because Trimble is
Since his admission, Donaldson had been living in the Republic of
Ireland . On 4 April 2006 he was found shot dead at a house he had
been using as a retreat near
County Donegal . Irish
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Michael McDowell said
that Donaldson had been shot in the head and that his right forearm
was almost severed. However, a post mortem revealed that he had died
from a shotgun blast to the chest. Donaldson's death is now the
subject of an ongoing murder inquiry. In 2009 the
Real IRA used their
Easter message to claim that they had killed Donaldson.
List of scandals with "-gate" suffix
* ^ See BBC News Thursday, 8 December 2005 available here.
* ^ See Guardian newspaper 17 December 2005 available here.
* ^ See BBC News 17 December 2005 available here.
* ^ See Ombudsman statement for 1 August 2004 available here.
Archived 21 October 2007 at the
Wayback Machine .
* ^ See The Irish Times 19 December 2005 available here.
* ^ See Guardian 20 December 2005 available here.
* ^ See comments of
Bertie Ahern available here.
* ^ See The Telegraph report for 20 December 2005 available here.
* ^ \'Spy\' Donaldson living in Donegal - Derry Journal
* ^ See Irish Times report 5 April 2006 avail