Saturday 16 December 2017

Parties gang up to force Adams to make statement on Stack in Dáil

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Photo: Tom Burke
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Photo: Tom Burke

Niall O'Connor and John Downing

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams will become the first party leader to be allocated a special Dáil slot to make a statement on his knowledge of the murder of prison officer Brian Stack.

In an unprecedented set of events, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party clubbed together to force Mr Adams into addressing the issue in the Dáil of the 1983 killing.

Mr Adams formally contacted the office of Ceann Comhairle last night and requested speaking time following a tense and acrimonious debate during Leaders' Questions.

Raising the issue for the second consecutive week, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Mr Adams revealed what he knew about the murder during last February's General Election campaign, only when it became a political issue.

Mr Martin said Mr Adams arranged in August 2013 for the victim's sons, Austin and Oliver, to be taken in a blacked-out van to meet an IRA figure who investigated the murder.

"We are talking about murder - not an election campaign. The Provos know who did it," Mr Martin told the Dáil.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny challenged Mr Adams to use Dáil privilege to reveal all he knows about the murder.

He said senior members of any other party would not be allowed let matters lie as they currently were.

Murdered: Brian Stack
Murdered: Brian Stack

"It was a brutal and cold-blooded murder at the hands of IRA thugs," Mr Kenny said.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin suggested that time be set aside today for Mr Adams to make a statement.

When it came to his turn to speak, Mr Adams briefly accused Mr Martin of "opportunism" and abusing his good faith in contacts with the Stack family. Then the Sinn Féin leader launched into a long discussion of maternity facilities at Portlaoise Hospital.

But some time later Mr Adams said he would speak on the Stack murder. He said he had already dealt with the matter but would make a Dáil statement when time was made available to him.

"But let me make it clear that I have never accused anyone of being a suspect in the murder of Brian Stack because I don't know who the suspects might be," Mr Adams said.

The controversy surrounding the Stack case was reignited after the Irish Independent revealed that Mr Adams supplied the names of four individuals who may have information surrounding the murder in an email to Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.

Three of the individuals are serving politicians and senior members of Sinn Féin.

All three have denied involvement in the killing, which took place outside the National Boxing Stadium in Dublin 1983.

Sinn Féin's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said Mr Adams handed over the names without delay - but Mr Adams admitted on Saturday that this did not take place until 2016.

Among the questions are whether Mr Adams has given the name of the senior IRA figure, who admitted his organisation's responsibility for the killing, to the gardaí.

After initial confusion last night, it emerged Mr Adams contacted the office of Ceann Comhairle and sought speaking time.

"Gerry Adams has made clear that he will make a statement in the Dáil in the coming days," said a party spokesman.

A decision as to when Mr Adams will speak will be taken today.

Irish Independent

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