Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams is facing another battery of accusations and condemnations after it emerged that earlier this year he emailed the names of four senior republicans allegedly involved in an unsanctioned 1983 IRA killing to the Garda police Commissioner.
A leaked email shows he passed the names to the Commissioner just three days before the general election in February “to remove any uncertainty”, according to the email. Three of those named are said to be senior figures within Sinn Fein, including two elected TDs.
The victim of the gun attack was chief prison warder Brian Stack (pictured), who died 18 months after the shooting. At the time, it was alleged he had been attacked for his role in brutality and abuse towards IRA PoWs at Portlaoise prison, where he worked. However, the unsanctioned action was in violation of IRA directives, and responsibility was only confirmed in 2013.
Mr Adams has not denied sending the email, which was published by the Independent News and Media group. He said he was merely forwarding names of alleged suspects he had received from the family of the victim, a claim which they have denied.
The allegations have seen Mr Adams branded a liar by establishment politicians and an informer by his republican critics. Sinn Fein has condemned the criticism as another media smear campaign against their party leader, cynically timed to coincide with Mr Adams’s attendance in Cuba for the funeral of Fidel Castro.
“I have to say I’m very disappointed. I went out to help the Stack family [when he met them to help confirm the murder was by the IRA]. They did suffer a grievous injustice,” Mr Adams said.
“They gave me some names of people. It is a matter of regret for me that this unfortunate man was shot and his family have suffered. But it is also a matter of disappointment that these matters have taken the twist they have taken.
“I have a very clear recollection [of how and when he was given the names]. This information was leaked (and) there has been reckless public commentary,” he said.
During the same interview, Mr Adams noted the individual who ordered the shooting had been disciplined by the IRA at the time.
However, rival politicians insisted that Mr Adams must have offered up the names, including those of senior figures in his own party, to the Gardai on his own initiative and using his own contacts.
During a debate in the Dublin parliament on Tuesday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin refused to accept Mr Adams’s statements on where he received the names.
Republican Sinn Fein said the claims that Mr Adams had passed alleged information on IRA activity to the Gardai “came as no surprise”.
“This has after all been the trajectory of the Provisionals under Adams’ leadership since they began to administer British rule on behalf of their Free State/British paymasters,” the party said in a press release. “They have gone full circle to open touting, apologists for the imperialist cause in Ireland.”
The email was sent on February 23, three days before the General Election, although it appears it was never acted upon by the Gardai for the purposes of an investigation. It is thought Mr Adams sent the email in the teeth of a general election in fear of a greater furore over any perceived failure to pass on the names.
In a statement, Mr Adams emphasised he had done his “utmost” to help the Stack family and described the killing “was wrong”.
“In the course of our conversations I was given a number of names by Austin Stack which he told me he had been given by journalistic and Garda sources,” he said.
“Austin asked me to ask those named if they would meet with him. I did this with those I could contact. They declined to meet at that time. I told Austin Stack this.
“I passed the names on to the Garda Commissioner while making clear that I have no information on the death of Brian Stack. The Gardai are the only body that can investigate this matter. I am prepared to co-operate with them on this.”