Sunday 28 May 2017

Sinn Féin in turmoil as senior TDs linked to Stack murder

Former gun runner Martin Ferris and bomb maker Dessie Ellis named in email from Gerry Adams to Garda Commissioner

Austin Stack and his brother Oliver speak to the media outside Leinster House on an earlier occasion
Austin Stack and his brother Oliver speak to the media outside Leinster House on an earlier occasion

Kevin Doyle and Niall O'Connor

Sinn Féin is in turmoil after two of Gerry Adams's most senior TDs were publicly linked to the murder of prison officer Brian Stack.

Former IRA gun runner Martin Ferris and Provo bomb-maker Dessie Ellis were named in an email sent by their party leader to Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan as people who may have information about the killing.

Mr Adams attempted to put the controversy to bed yesterday by making an unprecedented statement to the Dáil, in which he rejected suggestions of improper behaviour in relation to the Stack family's attempts to establish the truth about their father's murder in March, 1983.

However, the Dáil was left shellshocked when Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell then named Mr Ferris and Mr Ellis using the protection of Dáil privilege.

He said the two TDs should also make statements - since they were two of the four people named in the email sent by Mr Adams to the Garda Commissioner on February 23.

It resulted in a chaotic exchange as both TDs furiously denied any knowledge of the killing.

Brian Stack pictured with his children
Brian Stack pictured with his children

Mr Ellis insisted he was in jail in Portlaoise at the time of the gun attack and challenged Mr Farrell to make accusations outside of the Chamber.

"I challenge you to name me outside. Do it. Put your money where your mouth is," he said.

Mr Ferris, meanwhile, revealed that he voluntarily spoke with gardaí about the Stack case in 2013.

"I co-operated fully with them and I have nothing to answer for. It is a disgrace that you have come in here," he said.

Mr Stack's sons Austin and Oliver observed the row from the Dáil's visitor gallery.

"Sinn Féin TDs have chosen to back a liar over a victim. Gerry Adams has told untruth after untruth. His colleagues should hang their heads in shame," Austin Stack said.

Afterwards, the pair met Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin - who raised the issue of the emails after they were first revealed by the Irish Independent.

As the Stack brothers were heading towards Mr Martin's office at the other side of Leinster House, they encountered Mr Adams, who was on the phone at the time.

After Mr Adams offered to shake the Stack brothers' hands, Austin Stack refused - calling Mr Adams a "liar".

His brother Oliver reiterated the claim and also refused to shake the hand of the Sinn Féin President.

Earlier in his statement, Mr Adams failed to address the glaring questions facing him in relation to the Stack case.

He did not say whether he had given the name of the senior IRA figure who the Stack brothers met in August 2013 to gardaí.

Last night, Austin Stack said this remained the key outstanding issue.

"Gerry Adams knows who this man is - he must inform gardaí as a matter of urgency," Mr Stack said.

In a bid to dampen the controversy last night, Mr Adams released a copy of what he said was a note of a meeting with the Stacks in 2013.

But Austin Stack claimed at no point were notes taken - expressing fresh concern that the meeting was recorded without his knowledge.

In the Dáil, Mr Adams said he had spoken to three of the four people contained in the email and made it clear in the email that he had no information on the killing.

"There is a live garda investigation," Mr Adams said.

"I am prepared to cooperate with this."

Aside from Mr Ellis and Mr Ferris - who were named under Dáil privilege - one of the other individuals is also a senior Sinn Féin politician.

The fourth is a senior former leader of the IRA in the South, who is before the courts on unrelated charges.

"It was a grievous loss for his family and should never have happened," Mr Adams said on the killing of Mr Stack.

He also defended the anonymity granted to former IRA members who supported the work of the peace process and those who worked to recover the bodies of the IRA's Disappeared victims.

Mr Stack was shot in the back of the neck on March 25, 1983, after leaving a boxing contest at Dublin's National Stadium.

His sons had several meetings with Mr Adams in 2013 and in August that year they travelled in a blacked-out van to an undisclosed location along the border where a former Provo chief admitted the terror group was responsible for the murder. The IRA said the killing was not sanctioned by the leadership, but carried out by a renegade.

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Also in this section