Gardai (police) probing the murder of Republican double agent Denis Donaldson are pursuing a new line of inquiry almost three years after the killing. Superintendent Eugene McGovern told a resumed inquest into the murder that, since the last sitting eight months ago, officers had begun pursuing "another avenue of investigation" into the death. The inquest had twice previously been adjourned at the request of Gardai despite reservations by Donaldson's family. They confirmed after the hearing was adjourned last May that they made formal complaints to both the Garda Ombudsman and the Garda Complaints Board. They described their confidence in the investigation at the time as being "seriously undermined." But last week's hearing in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, was told the family would consent to a further adjournment. McGovern told coroner Dr Denis McCauley, "We have opened another avenue of investigation and that has not been completed yet. The Donaldson family have been made aware of that by the assistant Garda commissioner." Donaldson family solicitor Ciaran Shiels confirmed they were content to have the inquest adjourned. "The assistant commissioner contacted the family in the autumn about this new avenue of investigation ... The family are anxious to have this dealt with and feel the Gardai should be given reasonable time to progress with this," Shiels said. The inquest was then adjourned for a third time until February next year. The coroner said he was happy to adjourn it as both sides were in agreement. "The ultimate goal is that there will be finality to this and that the perpetrators will be identified and charged," he added. The coroner has already said at the first hearing that he would record the medical cause of death as being a result of gunshot wounds. Donaldson, 56, a senior Sinn Fein figure, headed his party's support team at Stormont before his 2002 arrest over alleged spying led to its collapse. He and two others were acquitted of charges in December, 2005, "in the public interest." He was expelled from Sinn Fein the following week after admitting he was a paid British spy for 20 years. Shortly afterwards he moved out of his Belfast home. He was found dead in a remote cottage near Glenties, Co. Donegal, on April 4, 2006. He had been shot four times in the chest, face, arm and hand. No group ever claimed responsibility for his murder.

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