IRA statement on death of prison chief
IRA statement on death of prison chief


A former IRA leader has confirmed the organisation killed Brian Stack, the only 26-County prison officer to die in the conflict, in March 1983.

Brian Stack was then chief prison officer at Portlaoise Prison, which housed all republican prisoners in the 26 County State.

In a statement published below, an unnamed IRA commander said Stack had been targeted because of his “brutal” prison regime -- but that the attack had been unauthorised, broke IRA rules, and should not have taken place.

The prison officer’s sons, Austin and Oliver, met with the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in recent months.

Mr Adams said he had offered to help the family and today expressed Sinn Fein’s regret to the victim’s family over the killing.

He said: “Recently I accompanied Austin and Oliver to a meeting with a former IRA leader who had enquired into the events of March 1983.

“The substance of this is contained in the family statement and confirms that the IRA was responsible for what occurred. I want to pay tribute to the Stack family - to Sheila Stack and her sons, Austin, Kieran and Oliver.

He added: “I hope that these recent developments will help them achieve the closure they have sought for 30 years.”

Austin Stack said he had always understood his father was killed by the IRA because of his father’s “strict” regime.

He and his brother said that following the meeting with Mr Adams, they were driven to a bungalow at an undisclosed location in a blacked out van from Dublin’s M1 motorway, where they were handed a statement, printed up on a typewriter, and told to transcribe it.


The following is the full statement issued by the IRA leader to the Stack family:

“I want to acknowledge that the IRA was responsible for the death of your father.

“I regret that it has taken so long to clarify this matter for you.

“This was a secret guerrilla army. It kept no records of its military operations.

“During the 30 years of war activists were killed, many thousands were imprisoned and leaderships at all levels were constantly changing.

“Reliable information is therefore not readily available and sometimes not available at all.

“The IRA did have rules and regulations, including a rule which prohibited any military action against Irish state forces. Regrettably at times these rules were breached.

“Between the 1970s and 80s there were prison struggles in Britain, the north and south. The prisoners resisted these harsh regimes.

“Prison officers were killed by the IRA in the north. These killings were sanctioned by the IRA leadership but none were sanctioned in the south and none was asked for in the case of your father.

“In Portlaoise a brutal prison regime saw prisoners and their families suffer greatly.

“This is the context in which IRA Volunteers shot your father.

“This action was not authorised by the IRA leadership and for this reason the IRA denied any involvement.

“Some years later, when the Army Council discovered that its Volunteers has shot prison officer Brian Stack, the Volunteer responsible for the instruction was disciplined.

“Those who carried out the attack were IRA Volunteers acting under orders.

“The IRA was responsible for your father’s death.

“This operation should not have taken place.

“While the IRA can no longer comment on this matter let me express my sorrow for the pain and hurt your family suffered.”

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