In March 1983, the chief prison officer of Portlaoise Prison, Brian Stack, was shot in the back of the neck. He was the only prison officer in the Republic to be murdered during the Troubles by the Provisional IRA. He died in September 1984 as a result of his injuries.
It took 30 years for the Provisional IRA to admit that it murdered him despite many denials by the IRA and Sinn Féin spokespeople during that period. Deputy Adams, as leader of Sinn Féin, brought the sons, Austin and Oliver Stack, to a particular location in the northern part of the country to have the IRA tell them, after years of denial, that it did indeed murder him. However, the IRA attempted to qualify its complicity and its act by saying in its statement at the time, which was handed to the sons, that:
In Portlaoise a brutal prison regime saw prisoners and their families suffer greatly. This is the context in which IRA volunteers shot your father.
In his authorised biography, Man of Kerry by J.J. Barrett, Deputy Ferris described the late Brian Stack as a "particularly vindictive individual". Those words and the IRA statement to which I refer give the impression of retrospectively trying to justify the cold-blooded murder because Brian Stack was nothing of the sort. He was a loyal, diligent and committed officer of this State. In my view, the situation has been compounded by a report in today's Irish Independent, which reveals that Deputy Adams passed on the names of four individuals, three of whom are allegedly prominent public representatives, to the Garda Commissioner last February and said that Austin Stack, the son of Brian Stack, gave him the names. Austin Stack has been on radio this morning and has publicly said that at no stage did he ever mention any names to Deputy Gerry Adams. It seems to me to be a very serious situation for the leader of a political party to pass on the names of suspects to a Garda Commissioner and we are all supposed to go away off into the night and do no more about it. This is an extraordinary situation. In the first instance, I ask the Taoiseach to meet Deputy Adams and put to him the need to co-operate fully with any investigation. The IRA knows who committed the murder and it should come clean on the matter to give final closure to the Stack family.
I also want to make the Taoiseach aware of correspondence that the wife of the late Brian Stack has sent to the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality about reopening the Remembrance Commission, which was established to assist and support victims of the Northern Ireland conflict in the Republic. Given that his murder was only admitted to by the IRA in 2013, there is a very strong case for the reopening of the commission in respect of the late Brian Stack. His family have been in correspondence for 18 months and have received nothing but acknowledgements. It seems that the State needs to move now and respond positively to that correspondence. I ask the Taoiseach to do so, given that Brian Stack was the only prison officer murdered in savage circumstances by the Provisional IRA back in 1983.