Adams’ secrecy on Stack murder ‘explains delay in dealing with past’

Gerry Adams has refused to disclose the name of the senior IRA figure who met Austin Stack about the murder of his father, Brian, in 1983

Gerry Adams has refused to disclose the name of the senior IRA figure who met Austin Stack about the murder of his father, Brian, in 1983

The ongoing failure by Gerry Adams to come clean about the IRA murder of an Irish prison officer demonstrates the absence of ‘generosity’ from republicans which is stymying progress on legacy institutions, it is claimed.

The claim was made after Secretary of State James Brokenshire spoke out to say the delay was due to a lack of political agreement between parties and victims’ groups.

But according to a major victims’ group, the reason the Stormont House Agreement is on hold is demonstrated by the Sinn Fein president’s handling of his party’s own ‘legacy’ investigation into the murder of Brian Stack.

The chief prison officer at Portlaoise Prison was shot by the IRA in 1983.

In the past fortnight Garda showed an email to his son Austin Stack which Mr Adams had written to the Irish police in February. In it, Mr Adams gave the names of four suspects, three of them Sinn Fein politicians.

Since then Mr Stack has repeatedly gone public to counter sporadic claims by Mr Adams that he was the Sinn Fein leader’s source for the four names. Mr Stack has also called for Mr Adams to give Garda the name of a senior IRA figure the Sinn Fein TD arranged for him to meet to find out more about his father’s murder.

When asked why he would not disclose the name, Mr Adams told the BBC: “You’re a journalist, you protect your source, I’m about the business of making peace.”

But Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United, which supports Mr Stack, said Mr Adams’ lack of transparency on the case clearly demonstrated why consensus cannot be reached.

Asked if a deal would happen soon, Mr Donaldson said: “There should be but we don’t see this happening in the immediate future unless and until there is a generosity of spirit demonstrated by all those involved.

“Events of the last fortnight concerning Gerry Adams and the republican movement’s ongoing handling of the Brian Stack murder demonstrates that there is no such generosity of spirit present.”

While ongoing calls for amnesty would suit many, he said, the net losers would be “those already harmed so badly within this society”.

He called for a unity statement which would state that there was “no justification for the use of criminal violence” during the Troubles.

“With that foundation stone in place then the actions and words of all contributors to ‘the past’ will vastly change and genuine progress can be made.”

However, Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said the UK “can end its stalling” by ending its veto over disclosure of information for national security reasons.

He said affected families have developed a set of principles which would deal with any UK concerns.

A public consultation on the roll-out of the Stormont House Agreement had been expected last month but Secretary of State James Brokenshire has not given any new target date when this might occur.

“I think it’s important that there is that broad political consensus to ensure that when we move to a public phase, we don’t suddenly see that hitting an immediate roadblock,” he told the BBC.

He added: “In my duty as secretary of state, I have that duty to come forward with proposals that I have confidence command broad political support in order to have effect.”

He also rejected Sinn Fein claims that national security was being used as an excuse to protect security force members,but insisted that it is about “protecting the public here in Northern Ireland here and now”.

A public consultation on the roll-out of the Stormont House Agreement had been expected last month but Secretary of State James Brokenshire has not given any new target date when this might occur.

“I think it’s important that there is that broad political consensus to ensure that when we move to a public phase, we don’t suddenly see that hitting an immediate roadblock,” he told the BBC.

He added: “In my duty as secretary of state, I have that duty to come forward with proposals that I have confidence command broad political support in order to have effect.”

He also rejected Sinn Fein claims that national security was being used as an excuse to protect security force members,but insisted that it is about “protecting the public here in Northern Ireland here and now”.