Irish IRA victims want inquiries into ‘flawed’ Garda probes

Austin Stack wants full transparency on the Garda investigations
Austin Stack wants full transparency on the Garda investigations

A new victims’ group in the Republic of Ireland is calling for public inquiries into Garda murder probes which it believes were flawed by “sympathy” for the IRA.

The Independent Victims and Survivors Coalition (IVSC) was formed recently after spokesman Austin Stack was asked to make a formal submission to the Irish government on the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

His father, Portlaoise chief prison officer Brian, was shot in the back of the head by the IRA in 1983 and died 18 months later from his injuries.

“There are about 12 families involved at this stage, made up of people whose loved ones were in the Garda, prison officers or army,” he said.

There are about 118 victims in the south as a result of Troubles-related activity, he said. A key aim of the group is to achieve a truth commission which would hold the UK and Republic of Ireland accountable.

“We are not after revenge or retribution but we would like to see convictions,” he said.

“We understand that people would not expect more than nine months [in jail] but the length of the sentence is not overly concerning.

“We would like to see everyone with [IRA comfort] On-the-Run letters coming home to face justice.”

He accepts that convictions may be difficult with the passage of time.

However, they are calling for public inquiries into the deaths of three men where he feels undue sympathy for the IRA compromised Garda investigations.

• Senior prison officer Brian Stack had been crossing a busy Dublin street after leaving a boxing contest at the National Stadium in Dublin when he was shot in the back of the head in 1983.

There have been three separate Garda investigations, but no individual or organisation has been found responsible. In 2013 Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams admitted the IRA shot him, claiming it was a reaction to the “brutal” prison regime in Portlaoise.

• Garda Richard Fallon was gunned down during a Dublin bank robbery in 1970, leaving behind a widow and five young children.

The killers were allegedly from the Republican splinter group Saor Eire – reportedly made up of ex-IRA members – but were never brought to justice.

It is alleged they were given special treatment by a Dublin government that was about to become embroiled in the Arms Trial controversy – allegations that it had ordered a major arms shipment for the Provisional IRA.

• Private Patrick Kelly was murdered by the IRA along with a trainee police officer in Co Leitrim in 1983.

They were killed while attempting to rescue kidnapped businessman Don Tidey. No-one has ever been convicted in connection with the murders. In 2011 Mr Kelly’s son, David, confronted then presidential candidate Martin McGuinness on the campaign trail and accused him of being on the IRA Army council at the time of his father’s killing. Mr McGuinness strongly denied this, but failed to condemn the shootings.

Austin Stack said they wanted full transparency on the Garda investigations into the three deaths.

“We would press the [Irish] government for independent inquiries in these cases because we believe there was some element of sympathy with the Garda towards the IRA in them,” he said.

“Some cases were not investigated properly for political reasons.”

He says that significant amounts of Irish government money funds groups in Northern Ireland which are “infiltrated by perpetrators” while comparatively little goes to victims’ groups.

“There are obviously perpetrators sitting in jobs in community groups funding with peace money,” he said.

But by contrast “only a small amount” went to the groups supporting genuine victims of terrorism.

“Not enough is being done to recognise the sacrifice made by our families. In one case a Gardai was killed and has never been awarded a bravery medal. The family is particularly upset.

“I am aware that there have been suicides among some families, along with issues of mental health, alcoholism and post traumatic stress disorder.

“There should be a national day of remembrance down south for all these victims of the Troubles.”

A remembrance fund was opened in Dublin for victims to apply to but it was only open for “a very short time” so they are asking for it to be reopened.

Mr Stack fully supports the work of those campaigning for truth and justice for the victims of the 1974 UVF Dublin- Monaghan bombings, which killed 23 and injured over 100.

“They are all innocent people who have not got justice. The British government refuses to release the relevant papers.”

They submitted their demands to the Irish government eight weeks ago but have not yet heard a response.

IVSC is working with victims’ group Innocent Victims United.