Incident Summary:

04/04/2006: Denis Donaldson, the former Sinn Fein member at the center of the spy scandal which brought down the Northern Ireland Assembly, was found shot dead and his body was discovered by Gardai at 5 p.m. at his home in County Donegal with a gunshot wound to his chest. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.




Western Europe

region/u.s. state:



Location Details:
8 km from Glenties village in townland of Classey on the road to Doochary

Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Assassination
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Private Citizens & Property
Name of Entity Political System of Northern Ireland
Specific Description Denis Donaldson, former member of Sinn Fein
Nationality of Target Northern Ireland
Additional Information
Hostages No
Ransom No
Property Damage Yes
Extent of Property Damage Minor (likely < $1 million)
Value of Property Damage Unknown
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Firearms Rifle/Shotgun (non-automatic)
Weapon Details
The weapon to Donaldson's chest was by a shotgun. There was suspicions that we may have been tortured before death and his body mutilated. The first two shot were fired at the door, and the second two hit him.
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Doubt Terrorism Proper (more) No
Additional Information The Irish Justice Minister initially had said the gunshot wound was to the head, but a post mortem indicated it was towards the chest. There had been an open-ended search on the whereabouts of Donaldson's own gun after the attack. --Donaldson told a news conference on Dec. 16, 2005 that he had been working as a British spy and working for the British secret service as an insider in the Irish Republican Army since the 1980's, and that there had never been a spy ring at Stormont. He then moved from his Belfast home to a cottage near the village of Glenties in County Donegal to go into hiding because the IRA's punishment for informing is death. --The IRA and Sinn Fein denied involvement in the murder. On April 8, Donaldson was buried at Belfast City Cemetery instead of Milltown Cemetery, a symbol of Irish republicanism, and was perceived as a final snub by the republican movement. --A year later, senior Gardai stated that the murder may have been an accidental result of a botched kidnapping operation by an IRA gang to extract information about Donaldson's work with the British. In July 2007, Gardai believed that they had a senior figure in the IRA with a history of involvement of the IRA's terrorist campaign as a suspect.
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Irish Republican Army (IRA) (suspected) No
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators Unknown
Number of Captured Perpetrators 0
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 1 Fatalities / 0 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 1
Number of U.S. Fatalities 0
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 0
Number of U.S. Injured 0
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
Moriarty, Gerry and Keenan, Dan, "Republican members suspected of killing Donaldson," The Irish Times, April 06, 2006.
Lavery, Brian, "IRA aide who spied for British is killed; Death called a threat to Ulster equilibrium," The International Herald Tribune, April 04, 2006.
Sharrock, David, "Gardai identify agent's killer as IRA man," Sunday Times (London), July 29, 2007.