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BRIAN STACK COLD CASE: THE QUEST FOR JUSTICE

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Brian Stack and his children

Brian Stack and his children

Brian Stack's widow Sheila

Brian Stack's widow Sheila

Oliver and Austin Stack

Oliver and Austin Stack

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Brian Stack and his children

In March 1983, Brian Stack was the Chief Prison Officer in Portlaoise Prison which housed a number of IRA prisoners. He had an IRA informant and became aware that a gun had been smuggled in and also that prisoners seemed to be able to get copies of keys to many of the locks within the prison. He searched continually for the gun and changed the locks every month.

One night, as he left the National Stadium in Dublin where he had attended the senior boxing finals, he was shot in the back of the neck. He was paralysed from the neck down and died within 18 months. In 1985, there was an attempted IRA break out in Portlaoise. The gun was found and some prisoners were discovered to have keys to all the prison locks except the main gate. Brian Stack had been right.

For his widow and children, it was a devastating time, but they put their faith in the gardai to get justice. However, the inquiry went nowhere, and a review found that neither prisoners nor staff in Portlaoise had been interviewed. Then it went to a cold case unit, but eventually the family lost faith, and in 2013, Austin and his brother Oliver decided to make contact with Gerry Adams, to try to get an admission that the IRA killed their father. At first, the gardai had not even considered that the attack had been carried out by the IRA - they thought maybe it had been the INLA or Dublin criminal gangs - but over the years, Austin Stack had made his own inquiries. He found out from republican and other sources that not only was it an IRA operation, and a sanctioned one at that, but he had the names of the four-man gang who carried it out. One man in particular was his concern, the man he believed organised the hit.

Then, recently, he found out something even more disturbing: this man is also an alleged paedophile. And the republican movement has protected the man who killed his father, and is now suspected of crimes as a child-abuser.

Sunday Independent