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Wednesday 19 December 2018

IRA 'abusers' in frame for murder of prison officer

Revealed: Two Provo 'child abusers' suspected of murdering Brian Stack

Brian Stack and his children
Brian Stack and his children
Oliver and Austin Stack
Brian Stack's widow Sheila
Austin Stack, whose father, Brian, was murdered by the IRA more than 30 years ago. Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

TWO alleged Provo child abusers are among the suspects for the IRA murder of a prison officer, the Sunday Independent has learned.

In an exclusive interview with Mairia Cahill in today's Sunday Independent, Austin Stack, the son of Brian Stack, who was murdered more than 30 years ago, claimed that the same man who organised the murder of his father was later identified as an alleged IRA child abuser who was "exiled" to Paris.

Separately, the Sunday Independent has learnt that a second IRA man who is being investigated for child abuse has also been identified as a potential suspect for the murder. This IRA man left the country a number of years ago but has recently been interviewed abroad by detectives about the abuse allegations.

The National Bureau of Criminal Investigations is understood to have identified the two men as part of the IRA gang they suspect put together the plan to assassinate Brian Stack in 1983. He was chief prison officer at the high security Portlaoise jail where republican prisoners were incarcerated during the Troubles. He was shot in the back of the neck outside the National Boxing Stadium in Dublin by a gunman who escaped on a waiting motorbike. He died of his horrific injuries the following year.

Oliver and Austin Stack
Oliver and Austin Stack

It took 30 years for the IRA to admit responsibility for the murder to Brian Stack's sons at a covert meeting with a Provo boss arranged by Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, in 2013. The admission sparked a renewed garda investigation after previous inquiries went nowhere.

Austin Stack this weekend said he was "shocked" to learn of the horrifying links connecting those who allegedly murdered his father to the abuse of children. In a moving interview with Ms Cahill, the Belfast woman who first highlighted how IRA child abusers were protected and moved within the republican movement, Mr Stack said: "I had been made aware a number of months ago that some of the individuals that were involved in my father's case would have come to the attention of the gardai in relation to the IRA abuse allegations."

Brian Stack's widow Sheila
Brian Stack's widow Sheila

He added: "But it was only in the last few days that I became aware that the man I am led to believe organised my father's murder is a suspected paedophile, and that he had been moved by the IRA after his abuse came to light."

Mr Stack said Gerry Adams "tasked" the IRA to come up with information on his father's murder, and said he should do the same for the victims of IRA paedophiles.

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

"He (Mr Adams) tasked an individual who described himself as having a very senior leadership role within the IRA to get information and that individual did get information," he told Mairia Cahill. "So from my perspective, it's now a nonsense to say that they can't do the same thing in relation to these abuse allegations... that the same individual that played that leadership role in getting information for myself and my family, should now quickly be able to go and get the same information and help the victims of the abuse allegations."

Tomorrow night the families of those killed or injured in IRA punishment attacks will call for a public apology from Sinn Fein on an RTE Investigations documentary.

The man now suspected of organising the murder of Brian Stack and Co Louth victim Paudie McGahon's alleged rapist were named as child abusers in a document that outlines details of an internal inquiry into IRA abuse in 2006. The inquiry was allegedly conducted by four senior Sinn Fein officials - an allegation the party vehemently denies.

The document alleges the man now suspected of Mr Stack's murder was court-martialled by the IRA for allegedly "grooming" a 12-year-old girl and was held in custody for three months before he was ordered to leave the country. Republican sources said that after the abuse came to light, Belfast republicans delayed a decision on what to do with him, possibly because of the embarrassment the case would cause. Gardai were also aware that this man was considered a "paedophile" by the IRA and was forced to leave the country.

Sources said he was regarded as a very active IRA organiser in Dublin and Munster in the 1980s and 1990s and was involved in a number of high-profile IRA operations. He was believed to have been sent to Paris after he was court-martialled but later returned to Ireland, only to be expelled again. His current whereabouts are unknown. The second former IRA man suspected of involvement in Brian Stack's murder has been living on the Continent for a number of years. His whereabouts are known to detectives who travelled to his home in recent months to interview him by arrangement about allegations of abuse made by a woman to gardai in Dublin.

Mr Stack said this weekend he would have expected that Gerry Adams, as a public representative, and the IRA man who provided information on his father's murder, would tell gardai what they knew. "Gerry Adams would probably say that he doesn't know, that he tasked this individual to find information out but this individual that did find information out was close to Gerry Adams, that was quite evident," he added.

Mr Stack recalled the covert meeting with a former IRA leader in August 2013, and which was arranged by Mr Adams, as a surreal experience. He said he and his brother, Oliver, Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein press officer, Richard McAuley, were driven in a blacked out van to a bungalow in an undisclosed location where a former IRA leader admitted responsibility for their father's murder, but claimed the murder wasn't sanctioned by the leadership.

In response to questions from the Sunday Independent, Mr Adams confirmed he accompanied the Stacks to meet a former IRA leader, who confirmed the IRA was responsible. "I have no further information regarding the matter," he said.

Mr Adams said he had already made a public appeal for those with information about sexual abuse, including former "IRA volunteers", to come forward. He said he has passed on information he has received to gardai.

Mr Stack claimed that his contact with Mr Adams in 2013 coincided with his brother's trial for abusing his daughter in 2013 and he had referred to that case as a "little family matter". He said he didn't think Mr Adams "grasped the reality" of the child abuse scandal in the republican movement. "I think that the people around him are cocooning him to a certain extent by defending him, and defending him in a cult like way," he said.

Sunday Independent

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