Austin Stack: families of Troubles victims should receive direct contact with paramilitary killers
THE Irish and British governments have been urged to set up a formal process to allow families of Troubles victims get closure through direct contact with paramilitary killers.
Austin Stack said no family should have to go through the ordeal his family had to endure after successive garda investigations failed to find any individual or organisation responsible for his father's murder.
But he believes official channels between bereaved families and organisations behind the killings could help many more finally come to terms with their loss.
"As a family we believe that closure for victims of Ireland's troubled past is a vital part of the peace process," he said.
"Families should not privately have to take the actions our family has taken over the past number of months to seek answers."
Mr Stack is an advocate of restorative justice.
His appeal to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to help secure an IRA confession stemmed from frustration at the garda inquiry into his father's murder.
A senior prison officer himself, he said evidence had gone missing from the original investigation - including fingerprints and a helmet found beside the abandoned getaway motorbike.
He also said no prison officers or inmates at Portlaoise, where his father was chief prison officer, were questioned as part of the probe.
"You can look at it both ways," he said. "It could be a situation of pure incompetence or it could be that they (the detectives) were quite intelligent and that they didn't want to go there for fear of what they might uncover."
Mr Stack believes he knows the identities of those involved in his father's murder, and has been told they were active in the IRA around Dublin at the time and are still alive.
The former IRA chief he met said he did not think it would be possible to arrange face-to-face meetings with the killers.
The Stack family said they have come to terms with the fact that, under the Good Friday Agreement, no one would serve time in jail for the murder.
They have asked other families of victims in similar circumstances to contact them for help, support and advice.
Mr Adams has told them he will leave the door open to meet anyone else who could get some closure through the same process.