Tuesday 23 July 2019

'You are an absolute disgrace' - Son of murdered prison officer faces down Gerry Adams

Austin Stack, son of murdered prison officer Brian Stack confronts Gerry Adams,TD, the Sinn Fein leader at the Sinn Fein launch of their Brexit document held in the Davenport hotel. Picture: Tom Burke
Austin Stack, son of murdered prison officer Brian Stack confronts Gerry Adams,TD, the Sinn Fein leader at the Sinn Fein launch of their Brexit document held in the Davenport hotel. Picture: Tom Burke
Austin Stack, son of murdered prison officer Brian Stack confronts Gerry Adams,TD, the Sinn Fein leader at the Sinn Fein launch of their Brexit document hed in the Davenport hotel. Picture: Tom Burke
Austin Stack, son of murdered prison officer Brian Stack confronts Gerry Adams,TD, the Sinn Fein leader at the Sinn Fein launch of their Brexit document hed in the Davenport hotel. Picture: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

This is the moment the son of a prison officer murdered by the IRA confronted Gerry Adams at a Dublin hotel.

Austin Stack told the Sinn Féin leader he would be “an absolute disgrace” if he didn’t give the name of an IRA figure who has information about the 1983 murder to gardaí.

He accused Mr Adams of using a personal statement in the Dáil yesterday to tell lies about their interactions.

It comes after two Sinn Féin TDs, Dessie Ellis and Martin Ferris, were revealed as two people that Gerry Adams suggested in an email to the Garda Commissioner who might have information about Brian Stack’s murder.

Sinn Féin were hosting a press conference relating to Brexit in the Davenport Hotel a short distance from Leinster House on Wednesday morning.

However, it was dominated by questions from journalists about events in the Dáil yesterday.

As it neared an end Mr Stack arrived into the room and called on Mr Adams to give the name of an IRA figure to gardaí.

Mr Stack and his brother Oliver have met with this person in question along with Gerry Adams as part of their quest to get justice for their father.

“You as a public representative are an absolute disgrace if you don’t do that Gerry Adams.

“I have no more interest in hearing anything you have to say. You told your lies and untruths in Dáil Eireann yesterday.

“I am now putting firmly the ball in your court. Take the name of the individual that you know to An Garda Siochana,” Mr Stack said before leaving the room.

In response Mr Adams said: “I just want to reject absolutely Austin’s assertion that I have told lies or untruths. I haven’t. I’m quite content to cooperate with the guards.”

However, the embattled Sinn Féin president refused to comment any further on the identity of the IRA man or whether he would give his details to gardaí.

At the press conference Mr Adams said he had set out “in great detail” his position on the murder of Brian Stack.

“The shooting and the murder of Brian Stack was wrong. It should never have happened. I have every sympathy with his family and I understand their angst,” he said.

Asked how well he knows that IRA figure that provided the family with a statement in relation to the killing, the Louth TD replied: “I’m not going to go beyond what I said at this time. When the two brothers were brought to meet this person, it was by arrangement with them.

“They knew beforehand that what they were going to get whatever response there was to their justifiable demand for acknowledgement of: ‘was the IRA involved in their father’s killing’?”

He added: “They didn’t have to go. It was their desire to and the rest of is part of the ongoing controversy.”

Mr Adams said the situation had been “seized upon” by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin for political reasons and accused Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell of abusing Dáil privilege by naming Mr Ferris and Mr Ellis.

“I didn’t spark this course of events. The way this issue was seized upon to make mischief by the leader of Fianna Fáil particularly,” he said.

Following the confrontation Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty released a statement questioning whether Mr Adams is obstructing the course of justice.

“Gerry knows the name of the senior IRA official that he brought the Stack brothers to meet and has an obligation to provide the Gardaí with this information. In refusing to do so, the President of Sinn Féin, a democratically elected member of our national parliament, is allowing a man to, quite literally, get away with murder,” she said.

“It is not up to the IRA, Gerry Adams or Sinn Féin to dictate what the necessary and appropriate punishment for any murder is or should be. Any attempt by an individual, or indeed the leader of another political party, to take the law into their own hands would simply not be tolerated.

“We have come a great distance since the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement; Adams’ assertions that the questions being asked of him and his knowledge of Stack’s murder are for nothing more than political point scoring which will put our peace process in jeopardy is wholly untrue.

“Rather, the solidarity and peace on this island are at perpetual risk as long as Gerry buries information and conceals names allegedly linked to a murder from the Gardaí,” Ms Doherty said.

How Sinn Féin leader has found it hard to avoid negative publicity

Claims of withholding rape case information

Liam Adams' daughter Aine

In 2000, Gerry Adams found out that his brother Liam had sexually abused his niece Áine (above) over six years but it wasn't until 2007 that the Sinn Féin president engaged with police.

The DPP in Northern Ireland carried out a review as to whether Mr Adams should be charged with withholding information, but eventually decided that he should not be prosecuted.

Arrest in relation to murder

In April 2014, Mr Adams was arrested by detectives investigating the murder of mother-of-10 Jean McConville. The widow was abducted, shot dead and buried at a Co Louth beach in 1972. Mr Adams was questioned for four days before being released without charge. Sinn Féin made accusations of political policing.

Hold the editor at gunpoint 'joke'

At a dinner in New York in November 2014, the Louth TD joked about a gun being placed to the head of the editor of the Irish Independent in the 1920s.

The comments sparked outrage in media circles, especially as two journalists from the Independent group were previously murdered for their work.

Mairia Cahill

Mairia Cahill. Photo: PA

When Mairia Cahill told her story of rape and being subjected to an IRA kangaroo court to BBC's 'Spotlight' programme in October 2014, Sinn Féin set out to discredit her. Mr Adams denied any kangaroo court was held. Later he claimed the abuse was carried about by her uncle, saying "most abuse happens in families". Ms Cahill pointed out that her alleged abuser, Martin Morris, was not a blood relative.

Paudie McGahon

In 2015 another IRA abuse victim, Paudie McGahon, came forward to tell his story of being put through a kangaroo court. He was heavily critical of Mr Adams's response. Subsequently Mr Adams was anonymously given a list of names including the man alleged to have sexually abused Mr McGahon. The list was passed on to gardaí.


Last year a report by the PSNI and MI5 concluded that the structures of the PIRA remain in existence and that the Army Council oversees Sinn Féin with an overarching strategy. Members of the PIRA have been directed to support Sinn Féin, including electioneering. Mr Adams called the report "a serious piece of mischief-making". He has always denied being in the IRA.


The Sinn Féin leader tweets regularly on his teddy bear's life and his rubber ducks. However, he landed himself at the centre of a racism row after tweeting about the film 'Django Unchained'. He later apologised for his use of the N-word while comparing the struggle against slavery in the US to the plight of Irish nationalists.

Row over White House security

Mr Adams missed out on St Patrick's Day celebrations at the White House earlier this year after being subjected to a lengthy security check. While the White House apologised, Mr Adams sparked further controversy by comparing himself to civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks, saying: "Sinn Féin will not sit at the back of the bus for anyone."

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