BBC Spotlight alleged that security agencies knew within days of Denis Donaldson’s murder that it had been carried out by the Provisional IRA (PIRA).
It was another three years after the killing in Co Donegal before it was claimed by the Real IRA.
If Spotlight is correct, PIRA has been assisted in covering up its role in the British’s agent murder for ten years.
Gerry Adams yesterday insisted that Garda investigations are “following a line that it was dissident republicans” behind the murder.
Martin McGuinness added that Garda have been following this line for a decade.
But Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United said Spotlight had prompted a clear question: “Is the RIRA/New IRA organisation now acting ‘militarily’ on behalf of Sinn Fein/PIRA?”
He noted that guns and explosives used by dissidents in recent years had clear PIRA origins and said there was “a growing case” that there may not be “the clear blue water” between the two that many supposed.
TUV leader Jim Allister said: “The nexus between the Provisionals and so-called dissidents has always been something which powers that be have been eager to brush under the carpet.”
He too pointed to IRA weaponry and explosives founds in “dissident” dumps, which he said showed “a great deal more osmosis between the two than Sinn Fein would have us believe”.
RIRA’s claim was “a convenient flag” that allowed mainstream republicans to deny links to the murder, he added.
Former IRA agent Martin McGartland said “there has always been a very close and cosy relationship between both [RIRA and PIRA]”.
He believes dissident groups were set up with “the blessing and consent and assistance of Sinn Fein-IRA” to put pressure on the UK.
However, former agent Sean O’Callaghan said there was no cooperation between the two and that for now, Provos’ heads are “firmly with Adams and company”.