Son tells Sinn Fein to expel Irish senator after offensive tweet about murdered father

SF Senator Maire Devine
SF Senator Maire Devine

The son of a prison officer murdered by the IRA has said Sinn Fein must expel its Irish senator who shared an offensive tweet about his father.

Senator Maire Devine was suspended from the party over an offensive tweet in relation to Brian Stack – a senior figure at Portlaoise prison when he was killed in 1983.

The party suspended her for three months following what it described as “unacceptable Twitter activity” on Sunday night.

Senator Devine issued an apology following her suspension, but Mr Stack’s son Austin felt it was “not sincere”.

The offensive tweet which had been retweeted by Senator Devine – Sinn Fein’s mental health spokesperson – appeared to come from a fake version of the Irish Government News Service.

In it, Mr Stack was described as a “sadist prison officer”.

Brian Stack was shot in the neck in March 1983 and died 18 months later

Brian Stack was shot in the neck in March 1983 and died 18 months later

His son Austin, who engaged in conversation with Senator Devine on Twitter following her offensive retweet, said: “Suspending her for 12 weeks and then welcoming her back into the party is not acceptable.

“If they really want to show that they are democrats they need to expel her immediately.

“Also we need a full investigation of these troll accounts.”

He added: “There is no apology from SF in their statement. I note that Senator Devine made an apology through SF but has not contacted myself or the family.

Senator Maire Devine retweeted a post that appeared to come from a fake Irish government news service site

Senator Maire Devine retweeted a post that appeared to come from a fake Irish government news service site

“We believe that this apology is not sincere as she was offered lots of opportunities last night to withdraw the tweet and subsequent tweets. Instead she tried to belittle me by claiming I was sensitive.”

He urged her to follow the example of Barry McElduff and resign her senate seat.

West Tyrone MP Mr McElduff stepped aside over a social media posting about the Kingsmills shootings earlier this year.

Of the defamatory remarks about his father he said: “The Provo movement have a tactic of blackening victims’ names as a way of somehow justifying what they did. They took my father’s life but I will not allow them to take my father’s good name.”

Austin Stack

Austin Stack

Sinn Fein national chairman Declan Kearney said: “This is unacceptable behaviour from a Sinn Fein elected representative.

“The ard chomhairle has suspended, with immediate effect, Senator Devine from party membership and all party activities for a period of three months.

“The whip has been removed and Senator Devine will be outside of the Leinster House team for that period.

“Sinn Fein strongly disapproves of what has happened. There can be no excuse for the hurt and offence which has been caused to the Stack family.”

Following the suspension a statement was issued on behalf of Senator Devine: “It was never my intention to cause any distress or hurt, particularly to victims of the conflict.

“I want to offer my most sincere apologies to the family of the late Brian Stack.

“I accept the decision by the party national chairperson to suspend my membership of Sinn Fein for three months.

“I deeply regret what has happened, and want to profusely apologise for all the offence and hurt caused by my twitter activity.”

Senator Devine is a mental health nurse and trade unionist from Dublin and has been a member of South Dublin County Council.

Brian Stack was the chief prison officer in Portlaoise prison when he was shot in the neck as he left a boxing match in Dublin.

He was left paralysed and brain-damaged by the shooting as he crossed a road outside the National Stadium in Dublin in late March 1983.

He suffered for 18 months before dying from his injuries at the age of 47.

He was the only prison officer murdered in the Republic of Ireland during the Troubles.

In 2013 the IRA acknowledged in a statement to the Stack family that it had been responsible for the murder, though said it had not been sanctioned by its leadership.