Thursday 22 August 2019

Adams has to 'come clean', say families of IRA victims

Relatives of McCabe, Quinn, Stack and McConville say they are no closer to justice as SF leader to retire

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams addresses the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in the RDS, Dublin
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams addresses the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in the RDS, Dublin
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

FAMILIES who lost loved ones to IRA violence have called on Gerry Adams to “come clean” before he steps down as Sinn Féin leader.

The decision by Mr Adams to retire after 34 uncontested years at the helm of the party has been widely welcomed.

But relatives of some of the IRA’s most high-profile victims have told the Irish Independent the move brings them no closer to justice.

Despite Mr Adams’s denials of IRA membership, the families of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, mother-of-10 Jean McConville, prison officer Brian Stack and 21-year-old Paul Quinn believe he could help jail their murderers.

Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty with Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty with Gerry Adams

“He knows who the murderers are. All of them. Why doesn’t he come clean now and say who they are?” said Mr Quinn’s father, Stephen. “I’m glad to see him going. He’s nothing, only a liar.”

Paul Quinn was beaten to death by an IRA gang in a barn in Co Monaghan in 2007. Every bone below his neck was broken by the gang, who used iron bars and nail-studded cudgels.

Gerry Adams. Photo: PA
Gerry Adams. Photo: PA

He had fallen foul of the Provos after punching the son of the south Armagh IRA commander.

Meanwhile, Det Gda McCabe’s wife Anne said his murder in 1996 left behind five children “during Gerry Adams’s leadership of Sinn Féin”.

“Four men were convicted of his killing and received prison sentences. These four killers were strongly supported by Gerry Adams and Martin Ferris.

“Two men are still on the run and are wanted for questioning by An Garda Síochána,” she said.

Gerry Adams addresses the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in the RDS, Dublin
Gerry Adams addresses the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in the RDS, Dublin

Mr Ferris, who spent time in prison for gun-running, was embraced on stage on Saturday night as it was announced that he will not contest the next election.

But Mrs McCabe added: “I cannot retire from my continuing heartbreak and mental agony over my beloved husband’s murder.”

The son-in-law of Mrs McConville, who was kidnapped and murdered by the IRA in 1972, said Mr Adams would “just take his secrets with him”.

Seamus McKendry, who has long campaigned on behalf of ‘The Disappeared’, said: “It’d be nice if he just left a file and said ‘ye deal with that’. But it won’t happen.”

Mrs McConville (37) was dragged from her home in Belfast by an IRA gang of up to 12 men and women, and accused of passing information to the British army.

She was shot in the back of the head and ‘disappeared’.

Her remains were eventually found on Shelling Hill beach, in Co Louth, by a member of the public in August 2003.

Mr Adams was arrested as part of the PSNI investigation in 2014, leading senior Sinn Féin figures, including Mary Lou McDonald, to allege political policing.

Just last week, a court heard that veteran republican Ivor Bell (80), who is charged in connection with the murder, is not medically fit to stand trial.

Mr McKendry described Mr Adams as “an embarrassment to Sinn Féin”. Asked whether he thinks the outgoing leader will ever offer the family new information, he replied:

“I don’t think it’ll ever happen. There’s too much baggage there. There’s also the possibility of war crimes which he’s not going to open himself up to.”

Another case which has plagued Mr Adams is that of murdered prison officer Mr Stack. His son Austin told the Irish Independent his initial reaction to Saturday night’s announcement was “good riddance to somebody who has brought politics in Ireland to an all-time low”.

“He presided over an organisation which was responsiblefor thousands of deaths. He presided over an organisation which disappeared people, tortured people and put the fear of God into their own communities,” Mr Stack said.

Brian Stack (48) was the chief prison officer in Portlaoise prison when he was shot in the neck. The father of three was left brain-damaged and died 18 months after the attack.

The IRA always denied his murder until 2013 when Mr Adams brought Austin Stack and his brother Oliver in a blacked-out van to a secret meeting where they were told an IRA member carried out the shooting, but it was not sanctioned by the IRA leadership.

“There is no place in a modern democracy for somebody who still has not left behind the paramilitary trappings which first saw him come on to the political stage,” Austin Stack said last night.

“As a family, at this stage, we have no expectation that Gerry Adams will ever tell the truth. If he was somebody that was a decent individual, with a moral compass, he would.”

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