Investigations into the murder of an Irish prison officer by the IRA have been hindered to protect a Garda informer – and Dublin’s proposals on dealing with the past will not make any difference, it is claimed.
Forty-eight-year-old Brian Stack was the chief prison officer in Portlaoise Prison when he was shot by the IRA after a boxing match in 1983. He died 18 months later.
In January his family accused the Garda of frustrating inquiries into his murder by withholding the identities of the gunman, a motorcyclist and the person who sanctioned the murder, in order to protect an informant.
Last week Dubliner Dr Finian Fallon, whose father Garda Richard Fallon was also murdered by republicans, said his government’s proposals on dealing with the legacy of the Troubles are “meaningless”.
The widow of murdered Garda, Jerry McCabe, also said that The Irish government has not contacted her about the proposals and that files she believes may reveal a related sentencing deal with the IRA are also being withheld.
The Irish Department of Justice responded that it was fully committed to the proposed Stormont House Agreement (SHA) legacy bodies.
The DOJ said: “The Department of Foreign Affairs has led and maintains an ongoing process of contact, interaction and consultation with groups representing and advocating for the victims of Troubles-related violence and their relatives, both in regard to the process for implementation of the Stormont House Agreement framework and more broadly.
“Addressing the needs of the victims of Troubles-related violence remains a priority and these measures underpin the government’s full commitment to this process.”
But Mr Stack dismissed the comments: “Nothing new there, just the standard PR-type response. From a southern perspective there is really nothing in the SHA for us and we feel very badly let down by our government.”
He said there was “not a hope” of Dublin’s SHA proposals clearing up his difficulty in accessing the files he seeks.
“There is no Historical Investigations Unit proposed for the south and one of the biggest problems that we have with the SHA is that there is nothing for victims down here in it apart from the Independent Commission for Information Retrieval (ICIR). We actually feel like second-class citizens in relation to the whole SHA.
“Victims are not represented on the ICIR while ‘SF/IRA’ will be able to nominate one of the commissioners. Furthermore, victims will not be able to test the information given to them and I know from personal experience that information given by terrorists is never reliable.”
Ulster University politics lecturer Dr Cillian McGrattan agreed: “The Irish government’s position on dealing with the past remains wedded to abstract platitudes at the expense of practical and measurable commitments,” he said.
“It pledges support for the victims of ‘Troubles-related violence’ but ignores vast swathes of individual cases.
“The current proposals will effectively rule out any broader investigations into patterns uncovered by [academics] Patterson, Hennessey or Paddy Mulroe regarding Dublin links with the Provos.”