MYSTERY surrounds the erection of a flag-pole and tricolour at the cottage near Glenties where senior Sinn Féin member and British spy Denis Donaldson was murdered two and a half years ago.

As recently as last month, the flag was raised outside the isolated cottage at Cloghercor on the back road between Glenties and Doochary. Mr Donaldson (56) was hit by four shotgun blasts there on Monday, April 3, 2006. No group ever claimed responsibility for his murder.

Meanwhile, the Donaldson family solicitor confirmed to the Donegal news that the cottage was recently sold to an unnamed buyer. Mr Donaldson had been living in the run-down cottage which had neither electricity nor running water.

He had been Sinn Féin’s head of administration at Stormont before his 2002 arrest over alleged spying led to its collapse.

However, Mr Donaldson and two others were acquitted of charges in December 2005 “in the public interest”.

He was expelled from Sinn Féin the following week after admitting he was a paid British spy for 20 years. Shortly afterwards, he moved out of his Belfast home, and had been living in the cottage.

Mr Ciaran Shiels, of Belfast legal firm Madden and Finucane, confirmed this week that the family no longer owned the property. He added that neither the family nor himself were aware that the flag had been erected at the house.

“That’s the first I heard of that, it seems like an odd thing to do,” Mr Shiels said.

He said the family did not wish to speak to the press about the murder or any aspect of Mr Donaldson’s life.