The son of an Irish prison officer murdered by the IRA has vowed to “expose Gerry Adams” at every opportunity, after the Sinn Fein president said prosecuting IRA killers would be “counterproductive”.
Austin Stack said comments made by Mr Adams during a radio interview – that sending the murderers of Co Louth farmer Tom Oliver to prison wouldn’t help the peace process – showed “contempt” for the dead man’s family.
Tom Oliver was abducted, tortured and murdered by the Provos in 1991. The IRA later claimed he had been an informer.
During the interview with LMFM Radio on Thursday, the Sinn Fein leader said “filling the prisons” with former IRA killers would be pointless.
He said that while he would defend the dead man’s family’s right to see the perpetrators prosecuted, he believed sending them to jail “would be totally and absolutely counterproductive”.
However, Mr Adams and Sinn Fein have repeatedly called for former soldiers and police officers to face prosecution over fatal shootings in Northern Ireland.
When asked whether he believed Mr Oliver was an informer, the Louth TD replied: “It’s not my responsibility to investigate any of these matters ... that’s a matter for An Garda Siochana.”
Mr Stack – whose father Brian Stack was shot and fatally wounded in Dublin in 1983 – said he would work tirelessly to challenge Mr Adams’ assertion that such prosecutions would be contrary to the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
“In fact the Good Friday Agreement specifically allows for prosecutions,” Mr Stack said.
“Adams is fixated on getting amnesties for those who committed the most heinous of crimes, while at the same time leaving the victims with no answers or justice.
“Myself, and others like me, will continue to expose him. To expose what [republicans] have done. To expose that they will not take responsibility for their actions and will not accept that the person who causes the harm accepts responsibility for that harm.”
Speaking to the News Letter, Mr Stack said “Gerry Adams has entered into a culture of denial, and he somehow thinks that if he keeps spinning this then people like me are going to go away – well we’re not”.
Mr Stack, who is campaigning for a victim-centred truth recovery process, added: “Adams tries to portray himself as a peacemaker but nothing could be further from the truth as he has clearly shown that he is not interested in delivering truth or in reconciling with victims.
“Victims are the real peacemakers as we are the ones who have suffered most and gained least from the peace process, however we are still prepared to do our bit for reconciliation on our island if we have access to the truth.”
Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said; “Gerry Adams’ and Sinn Fein’s hypocrisy is once again exposed. When it comes to the actions of the police and the Army they demand all manner of inquiries, legacy inquests and investigations. But when it comes to the terrorist activities of the IRA, then they say we should just forget about it and let it go for the sake of peace. They don’t know the meaning of rights, equality and respect.”
Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United said Gerry Adams has “once again demonstrated his blatant disregard for the rule of law,” and added: “We don’t live in the world of the Provo green book and constitution, Mr Adams and his deputies and MLAs in Northern Ireland have committed themselves in words to the legitimate law of both jurisdictions, actions must now follow and Mr Adams must begin by apologising for his latest callous remarks to a family robbed of their loved one.
“He must then commit unequivocally to provide assistance to the reopened case.”
Mr Donaldson added: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Oliver family at this time and all our innocents still denied justice, truth and accountability.”
• Tom Oliver’s murder in 1991 sparked an unprecedented public outcry in the area against the IRA, with 4,000 people attending a peace rally in Cooley.
The popular sheep farmer was abducted from his home in the Riverstown area of Co Louth on July 18, 1991.
He was then tortured and murdered by the IRA – his body discovered two days later across the border in south Armagh. He had been shot several times in the head.
A statement issued by the IRA alleged Mr Oliver had been killed because he was a Garda informer – a claim stongly rejected by his family.
A Garda review of the case a few months ago is reported to have uncovered a number of new lines of inquiry.
News of a potential breakthrough led to calls for Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to help with the investigation.
On Friday, a Garda spokesman played down the significance of any new information but said the investigation was ongoing.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Ardee Garda station on 041 6871130, the Garda confidential line 1 800 666 111, or any Garda station.