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Northern Ireland leader says he was a British spy

Hasan Suroor

LONDON: In a disclosure, breathtaking even by the standards of the cloak-and-dagger world of intelligence, a senior and highly respected figure in Northern Ireland's Republican movement has revealed that he has been a British spy for some 20 years.

Denis Donaldson, who rubbed shoulders with top Republican leaders such as the Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and went to jail in the 1970s for his role in IRA's violent campaign for a united Ireland, disclosed that he was recruited by British intelligence services in the 80's during a "vulnerable time'' in his life.

The 55-year-old veteran of the Republican movement was expelled from Sinn Fein on Friday after he admitted to have been a paid British mole.

"I was recruited in the 1980s after compromising myself during a vulnerable time in my life. Since then I have worked for British intelligence and the RUC/PSNI (Royal Ulster Constabulary/Police Service of Northern Ireland) special branch. Over that period I was paid money,'' Mr. Donaldson said in a statement.

Chain of events

Ironically, in October 2002, Mr. Donaldson was accused by British intelligence of running an alleged IRA spy ring at Stormont, the seat of the defunct Northern Ireland Assembly, triggering a chain of events that led to the collapse of the provincial administration. He was acquitted only last week.

In his statement, he called the Stormont "spygate'' affair a creation of intelligence services.

"It (the alleged spy ring) never existed. It was created by the Special Branch,'' he said and apologised to his colleagues.

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