Monday 24 July 2017

This was the week that rocked Sinn Féin as the Gerry Adams questions mount up

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

At 4.48pm yesterday, three emails dropped into my inbox simultaneously. They were sent from the offices of the Sinn Féin politicians who have been linked to the murder of prison officer Brian Stack by their own party president Gerry Adams.

This newspaper has decided against naming the three individuals involved for fear of compromising the Garda investigation.

The emails, sent by the Sinn Féin press office, all read as follows: "Following consultation with my legal representative and in response to your recent email, I would like to state, 'I have no information regarding the murder of Brian Stack'."

Of all the controversies that have engulfed Mr Adams and the Sinn Féin party in recent years, this one is significantly different.

We are dealing with a political party that does not tolerate discord or conflict.

We are dealing with a party which has members who have been linked to the most heinous of crimes.

Brian Stack. Photo: PA
Brian Stack. Photo: PA

But above all, it's a party that applies its own unique set of rules, one of which is to display unwavering loyalty to fellow Sinn Féin comrades.

So it begs the question, if these three senior Sinn Féin figures have no information whatsoever in relation to the Stack murder, why were their names passed on to Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan by their leader?

Would he have sent that email, just three days before the General Election, if he believed they had no case to answer whatsoever?

And why did he wait, according to the Stack family, over two and a half years before furnishing the information to the authorities?

In a lengthy statement last night, Mr Adams failed to answer any of these questions.

Mr Adams was in Cuba when details of his email to Commissioner O'Sullivan were published on the front page of the Irish Independent on Tuesday.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin decided that the revelations were serious enough to raise during 'Leaders' Questions' that afternoon.

Brian Stack was the first and only prison officer murdered since the foundation of the State, Mr Martin told the Dáil.

He was shot in the back of the neck after attending an amateur boxing match in Dublin on March 25, 1983.

He died 18 months later.

The IRA eventually admitted to the murder in August 2013 at an undisclosed location in Co Louth.

The meeting was attended by the victim's sons, Austin and Oliver, a senior IRA commander and the Sinn Féin president.

At the meeting, the IRA expressed regret over the killing, but insisted that it had been carried out by a renegade.

That individual, who pulled the trigger that ended Brian Stack's life, was disciplined for the atrocity.

In the Dáil chamber, Sinn Féin TDs including the party's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald sat stone-faced as Mr Martin raised the killing and the email revelations with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

At one point, Ms McDonald looked down at the floor and nodded her head - probably feeling a sense of déjà vu.

Mr Kenny put it to the Dáil that perhaps Mr Adams had briefed his deputy leader on the issue prior to him jetting off to Havana for Fidel Castro's funeral. He also said he would like to meet the Stack family.

Instead of having the courage to address the issue, Ms McDonald ignored it entirely.

As the week progressed, Mr Adams moved to clarify the controversy he created during an interview on his local radio station, LMFM.

If anything, he generated even more questions, pointing out on three occasions that he didn't have "notes" in his possession.

As this controversy was unfolding, a woman sat down to dinner with her son in Chicago.

That woman is Sheila Stack, Brian Stack's widow.

She will take the Taoiseach up on his invitation to meet later this year. Mr Kenny, and Mr Martin for that matter, can offer no more.

The same cannot be said for Gerry Adams.

Who are the accused?

Politician A: Rural-based and veteran, this individual has criminal convictions. He is a household name in terms of politics.

Politician B: City-based figure who told this newspaper on two occasions this week that he had nothing to do with the Stack murder.

Politician C: A highly senior Sinn Féin figure who plays a major role in devising some of the party's key strategy

Former IRA boss: Held a senior role in the organisation in the South. Was highly placed in the IRA during the killing of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe.

Irish Independent

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