herald

Monday 21 August 2017

Prison officer's two sons seek meeting with his IRA killers

Oliver and Austin Stack, above, are the sons of murdered prison officer Brian Stack
Oliver and Austin Stack, above, are the sons of murdered prison officer Brian Stack

The family of an assassinated prison officer have pleaded for a face-to-face meeting with his killers after the IRA finally admitted that it was behind the murder.

Thirty years on from the gun attack on Brian Stack, his sons were driven in a blacked-out van last week to an undisclosed location where a former provo chief admitted responsibility.

In a statement, typed up on an old typewriter and handed to Austin and Oliver Stack in a bungalow somewhere in Ireland, the IRA said the shooting was not sanctioned.

"This action was not authorised by the IRA leadership and for this reason the IRA denied any involvement," it states.

DISCIPLINED

"Some years later, when the army council discovered that its volunteers had shot prison officer Brian Stack, the volunteer responsible for the instruction was disciplined."

But the statement said the IRA killers involved were acting under orders.

"This operation should not have taken place," it states.

Austin and Oliver, who have campaigned for decades to get answers about their father's killing, were accompanied to the meeting with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

They said they were forced into going down this avenue because Garda detectives had botched the original murder inquiry, and detectives now in charge of the case were refusing to co-operate with the family.

Father-of-three Brian Stack was chief prison officer at Portlaoise, which housed republican inmates, when he was shot in the neck on March 25, 1983, after leaving a boxing contest at Dublin's National Stadium.

Left paralysed and brain-damaged, he suffered for a further 18 months before dying from his injuries at the age of 47.

Austin Stack, who followed in his father's footsteps and is now assistant governor of Dublin's Wheatfield Prison, and his brother Oliver first asked Gerry Adams in May if he could help secure an IRA confession.

They had to seek answers themselves after three separate Garda investigations failed to find any individual or organisation responsible.

A cold case review uncovered "unsettling aspects and major flaws" in the original inquiry, which appears to have been "seriously compromised", Mr Stack said.

The family said they remain frustrated with the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI), which is currently in charge of case.

"It is our view that the distinct lack of cooperation our family has experienced with the NBCI team is directly linked to the unsettling aspects and major flaws uncovered in the original Garda investigation," he added. .

Austin Stack said the meeting with the former IRA leader has brought an element of closure for the family, but they still have many unanswered questions, including the identity of the killers and why the Garda probe was "compromised".

"I still want to meet face-to-face with my father's killer," he said.

hnews@herald.ie

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