IRA finally admits killing prison officer Brian Stack during the Troubles
Chief officer of Portlaoise Prison was left brain-damaged and paralysed after he was shot in the back of the neck in Dublin in 1983
Belfast-born David McKittrick has been reporting on Northern Ireland since 1971, He has written for the East Antrim Times, the Irish Times and was The Independent's Irish correspondent for many years. He is the author of several books including Making Sense of the Troubles (2000) and Lost Lives (1999).
Friday 09 August 2013
The IRA admitted responsibility for the murder of the only prison officer killed in the Irish Republic during the Troubles – following a long campaign by his family.
The Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams expressed regret for the death of Brian Stack, as a statement was released from a former IRA commander explaining the circumstances in which the prisoner officer was targeted.
Mr Stack, who was chief officer of Portlaoise Prison, was left brain-damaged and paralysed after he was shot in the back of the neck in a Dublin street in March 1983, but lived until September 1984 when he died of pneumonia at the age of 47.
His name only became prominent in recent years when his son Austin, who also became a prison officer, drew public attention to the case. Although most assumed the IRA was responsible, the organisation denied involvement at the time and until now never admitted its original lie.
The statement from the unnamed IRA commander released yesterday said: “I want to acknowledge that the IRA was responsible for the death of your father. I regret that it has taken so long to clarify this matter for you.
It added: “In Portlaoise a brutal prison regime saw prisoners and their families suffer greatly. This is the context in which IRA volunteers shot your father. This action was not authorised by the IRA leadership and for this reason the IRA denied any involvement.
The statement continued: “The IRA was responsible for your father’s death. This operation should not have taken place.”
In January Mr Adams, who is a member of the Irish parliament, delivered a general apology to the families of members of the Irish security forces who were killed by republicans.
His statement was greeted with much scorn in parliament, but this and other IRA apologies have brought no apparent political punishment to the Sinn Fein party, which has regularly increased its vote in both parts of Ireland. Mr Adams himself, who shifted his political base south of the border several years ago, has become one of the biggest vote-getters in the Republic.
The Stack family said in a statement that a review had uncovered major flaws in the original investigation into the shooting. They added that when a new police team was appointed they had been “frustrated at what we can only describe as the unco-operative nature” of the earlier team’s activities.
During the IRA campaign the organisation generally sought to avoid killing Irish police and troops, not for ideological reasons but because such deaths stirred southern public opinion and security activity against it.
In recent years the IRA has issued several apologies to families for causing a number of fatalities, for example saying it had wrongly killed some who were shot as alleged informers. The Stack family said it had met Mr Adams, and an ex-IRA commander, in an effort to “gain answers and some measure of closure”. The family said that while the acknowledgement from the IRA commander brought some closure, they were still left with unanswered questions.
Police in Dublin said their investigation was ongoing.
Which country would be hardest to invade?
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
UK weather: Severe weather warning for snow and torrential rain over bank holiday weekend
Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
- 5 Teen suffers embarrassing wardrobe malfunction in front of deputy PM