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Saturday 10 December 2016

Son of murdered prison officer 'sickened to the core' that jail will be used for upcoming IRA prison break film

Cathal McMahon

Published 06/04/2016 | 08:44

Austin Stack, whose father, Brian, was murdered by the IRA more than 30 years ago. Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Austin Stack, whose father, Brian, was murdered by the IRA more than 30 years ago. Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

The son of a murdered prison officer has blasted the state for allowing a recently closed jail be used as a site to film an upcoming movie about a famous escape.

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It was revealed yesterday that the old Cork prison was to be used as a site for a film about the 1983 Maze prison breakout of 38 IRA inmates.

The Irish-Swedish production stars Love/Hate's Tom Vaughan Lawlor and Rebellion's Barry Ward and has been described by James Hickey of the Irish Film Board as "an exciting prison break story".

Austin Stack, the son of murdered Chief Prison Officer Brian Stack, has revealed that he is "sickened to the core" that the Irish Prison Service (IPS) would be involved in such a project.

Father-of-three Brian Stack was chief prison officer at Portlaoise, which housed republican inmates, when he was shot in March 1983 after leaving a boxing contest at Dublin's National Stadium. He died 18 months later from his injuries.

Commenting on the fact that another prison officer died during the Maze escape and two others were shot and wounded, Austin Stack said: “No right thinking arm of the State should be involved in a project will essentially glorify the death of a prison officer.” 

Brian Stack
Brian Stack

He continued: “The Irish Prison Service is obviously content to allow the re-victimisation of this prison officer’s family. We cannot allow this family to be traumatised all over again.”

He has called on Acting Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to stop filming which began earlier this week.

Austin Stack. Photo: Frank McGrath
Austin Stack. Photo: Frank McGrath

The movie centres around the events in 1983 when 38 IRA inmates escaped from the Maze prison in Co Antrim. It was described at the time by the then British Prime Minister MArgaret Thatcher as "the greatest incident in British prison history".

One of those who escaped was prominent Republican Brendan 'Bik' McFarlane - who was a suspect in the kidnap of Dublin supermarket boss Don Tidey.

During Mr Tidey's rescue in 1984 Private Patrick Kelly and garda recruit Gary Sheehan were shot and killed. McFarlane was cleared of any involvement in the deaths and kidnapping.

Mr Stack, who was himself a prison officer, said: “The use of Irish Prison Service property in the making of this film is grossly insensitive to my family, the Kelly and Sheehan families and also the family of the prison officer who died during this escape.”

The old Cork prison on Rathmore Road was in use until last February when its 150 inmates were moved to a new €42 million facility nearby.

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