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DONALDSON WAS LA MON BOMBER; HOTEL MASSACRE REVELATION.

Byline: VICTORIA McMAHON

DOUBLE agent Denis Donaldson and another IRA spy are suspected of being members of the Provos' La Mon bombing team, we can reveal. Today the Sunday Mirror lifts the lid on the murky world of IRA double agents believed to be involved in one of worst atrocities of the Troubles.

The revelation that Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams' one-time close associate Denis Donaldson is believed to have been a key member of the bombing team will raise fresh questions for the Louth TD.

A source has named another outed informer as the getaway driver of the yellow Fiat Avenger on that devastating night 34 years ago at the country hotel on the outskirts of East Belfast.

The fresh details emerged after it was revealed on Thursday how a mountain of documents, including interviews with IRA men, have been lost from the original RUC investigation.

The discovery was made by detectives from the Historical Enquiries Team who were reviewing the initial probe into the outrage.

Their report was slammed as "worthless" earlier this week by a number of the victims' families.

They claimed the documents had disappeared in order to protect IRA bombers who were now at w at f the highest levels of Northern Ireland's peace process.

Among the 25 men arrested in the wake of the horrific fireball bombing was Sinn Fein chief Adams along with Donaldson, sources have told the Sunday Mirror.

Adams was charged with IRA membership that year but was later acquitted.

However, in 2003 he was named in the House of Commons under parliamentary privilege by then-Strangford MP Iris Robinson as having masterminded the attack.

The Sinn Fein boss strenuously denied the allegation and has always insisted that he has never been a member of the IRA.

Today we can also reveal l how the Provo gang that night 34 years ago thought they were unleashing the might of their deadly bomb on a gathering of RUC men at the hotel but had actully got the wrong date.

Our source said: "They thought the hotel would be filled with RUC personnel - they were the intended target. "The RUC gathering was to the day - a week before.

"They got the wrong night. It was a botched job."

Instead, their unsuspecting victims were attending the annual Irish Collie Club dinner dance.

It is believed the gang stopped at a number of petrol stations in the area to fill up jerry cans before attaching the blast incendiary with a meat hook on to a window grille at the hotel.

The petrol accelerant turned the inside of the hotel into a fireball in a matter of minutes when the bomb exploded, leaving a trail of charred bodies in its wake.

It is thought that up to 60 people could have been involved with the planning and execution of the deadly attack.

Two men were charged in connection with the outrage but Belfast man Robert ln 'Spud' Murphy was the only person convicted in connection with the bombing.

He was jailed in 1981 and released in 1995. He died of cancer in 2006.

Another man Eddie Brophy was acquitted on appeal in 1982 after his confessions to police, in which he admitted to storing the bomb, were ruled inadmissible. He died in 1997.

A security source said: "Donaldson and [the other IRA informer] were operating in the IRA in East Belfast at that time.

"They were both heavily involved in the La Mon operation - it was given authorization at the highest level."

A republican source said: "Wee Denis Donaldson was a trusted aide to Gerry, all their lives, since their Cage Eleven days [when they were interned in Long Kesh]. He was a key advisor if not the key strategist for Gerry at that time.

"Denis knew many of those who carried out the attack. Spud Murphy was from the east of the city.

"Another man, who was later outed as an informer, worked in the IRA team in that area at the time."

The second IRA spy was pulled out of Belfast by his security force handlers a number of years ago.

The republican source added: "The informer was also originally from Belfast. The families should be asking when were these men turned and began working for the security forces and what else could the double agent who is alive knows? Could it have been stopped? "At the very least they were party to setting it up." Donaldson was Sinn Fein's Stormont administration chief before he was publicly outed as being on M15's payroll as a double agent in late 2005.

He confessed during a Sinn Fein press conference in Dublin that he had been "turned" during a "vulnerable time" in his life in the 1980s.

If this was the case then Donaldson wasn't a British agent at the time of the La Mon bombing.

In 2006 the Short Strand man was shot dead in his cottage hideout in the Glenties area of Co Donegal. The hit was later claimed by the Real IRA.

Jim Mills, who lost his wife Carol and sister Sandra in the La Mon attack said: "It's not much to ask to be told the truth. We know that anyone involved will only get a slap on the wrist - a couple of months [in prison] but we just want to know who was involved. We deserve the truth.

"The HET report was a farce - not worth the paper it was written on - as it didn't tell us anything.

"I think the detectives are genuine but they are working with their hands tied behind their back. They're only telling us what they've been allowed to tell us."

The families of the La Mon victims are now demanding a public inquiry in a bid to uncover the truth.

Asked to comment on the double agent allegations, TUV MLA Jim Allister, who has been supporting the families said: "There is a prevalent belief that someone involved was an agent and that is an issue around which we need clarity."

VICTIMS

Thomas Neeson (52, married, 3 children)

Sandra Morris (27, married, 2 children)

Ian McCracken (25, married)

Elizabeth McCracken (25, married)

Daniel Magill (married)

Carol Mills (27, married)

Gordon Crothers (30, married, 1 child)

Joan Crothers (26, married, 1 child)

Paul Nelson (37, married, 2 children)

Dorothy Nelson (35, married, 2 children)

Christine Lockhart (32, married)

Sarah Wilson Cooper (62, married & children)

CAPTION(S):

Carol Mills Ian & Elizabeth McCracken Agent... Donaldson before his murder in 2006 Close... Gerry Adams with aide Denis Donaldson Carnage... the scene after the La Mon bombing in 1978
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 19, 2012
Words:1097
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