A theatrical confrontation at a press conference in Dublin appears to be the latest installment in an orchestrated effort to embarrass Gerry Adams.
Austin Stack, son of IRA victim Brian Stack, appeared at a Sinn Fein press conference on Thursday and interrupted proceedings to demand Mr Adams pass further information to the Garda police in relation to the death of his father in 1983.
The controversy has continued to dominate the news agenda since it erupted last week. It has mirrored other recent attempts by Ireland’s right-wing political and right-wing media establishment to undermine and smear the Sinn Fein leader.
Mr Stack was the chief prison officer in Portlaoise Prison in the Irish midland with a reputation for brutality against IRA PoWs when he was shot at a sports event Dublin on March 25th, 1983. He died of his injuries 18 months later.
Earlier this week, there was uproar in the Dail t when two Sinn Fein TDs were accused of having some connection the case. Martin Ferris, a Kerry TD, and Dessie Ellis, TD for Dublin North West, were named under parliamentary privilege by Fine Gael’s Alan Farrell and urged to publicly comment. Both men have angrily denied involvement.
Mr Adams has confirmed he emailed four names to the Garda Commissioner in February, that he says he received from Mr Stack in 2013. At that time, Mr Adams facilitated a meeting between the Stack family and a Provisional IRA figure in an attempt to bring closure to the Stack family. This, he said, was necessary because of the absence of a proper truth and reconciliation process for the conflict.
However, Mr Stack no longer recognises the confidentiality of that process. Previously involved with Fianna Fail, he has now put himself at the head of a high publicity campaign alongside Mr Adams’s political opponents to embarrass the Sinn Fein leader for not revealing more information on the IRA.
Mr Adams has insisted he is willing to co-operate with gardai, but has said he will not break confidentiality to reveal the identity of the IRA figure who met the family of Mr Stack an undisclosed location in 2013. It is understood the man was introduced to the Stack sons after they were brought in the back of a van to a secret rendezvous so that they could discuss their father’s death. They were told at the meeting members of the IRA had admitted carrying out the killing without authorisation, and that the person who ordered it had been disciplined by the organisation.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald was among the Fine Gael Ministers who insisted there is now a “clear obligation” on Mr Adams to pass the identity of those present to gardai “without delay”. Borrowing the words of Margaret Thatcher, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said “murder was murder”.
He said: “There is a particular person the Stack family met, and there is a particular van driver who took them there, and both of them may be in a position to give information to the guards, and like any [responsible] citizens they should do so now. Mr Adams should ensure that they do so.”
He claimed it was a “load of nonsense” to relate the matter to the peace process. However, Sinn Fein has accused Fine Gael and Fianna Fail of making a political football out of the anguish of a victim of the conflict.
In a statement, Mr Adams said his political opponents were using the issue to “exploit victims in the name of scurrilous political point scoring.” He called on the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to establish a “proper truth recovery process” adding, “that is the only viable way for families to achieve justice.”