Tuesday 11 December 2018

Áras hopeful Liadh Ní Riada is 'unsuitable to represent the country' - says son of IRA victim

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald with presidential candidate
Liadh Ní Riada yesterday. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald with presidential candidate Liadh Ní Riada yesterday. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Gillian Halliday and Laura Larkin

The son of prison officer Brian Stack, who was murdered by the IRA, has said Sinn Féin's presidential candidate is unsuitable to represent Ireland on the international stage after she disagreed with describing IRA atrocities as terrorist attacks.

Ireland South MEP Liadh Ní Riada was yesterday unveiled as Sinn Féin's candidate - and promptly refused to take questions from the media gathered for her campaign launch.

Austin Stack, whose father Brian died in hospital 18 months after he was shot in the neck by members of the Provisional IRA in 1983, said the MEP's remarks about IRA atrocities and her membership of Sinn Féin made her entirely unsuitable for the role of president.

Ms Ní Riada previously caused controversy when she declined to call the IRA terrorists during an interview with 'Hot Press' magazine.

She made headlines last year after saying she was "uncomfortable" with using the word terrorism to describe IRA atrocities such as Bloody Friday, the Warrington bomb and Birmingham pub bombings.

Speaking last night, Mr Stack urged people to challenge her on the hustings.

Hustings: Austin Stack called on people to challenge Liadh Ní Riada. Photo: Tom Burke
Hustings: Austin Stack called on people to challenge Liadh Ní Riada. Photo: Tom Burke

"My dad was shot in the back of the head in a Dublin street. It can only be termed as terrorism. He wasn't involved in any conflict," he said.

Mr Stack stressed that her position and Sinn Féin's political ideology conflict with the role of president.

"If she wants to be president, she has to be commander-in-chief of the armed forces," he explained.

"Sinn Féin is opposed to the use of the Special Criminal Court in the Republic.

"She's unsuitable to represent the country on an international stage.

"She's entitled to run but I would call on all right-thinking people to challenge her on the hustings. I certainly have no difficulties challenging her personally."

Speaking at her campaign launch, which was attended by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, Ms Ní Riada said she will celebrate employers who pay fair wages and would, if necessary, use the presidential powers to address the Oireachtas.

She pledged to be an "energetic president" and will reach out to the Irish diaspora.

Irish Independent

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