Saturday 23 March 2019

No apology yet for Stack's family from SF Senator Devine

Sinn Fein senator Senator Maire Devine
Sinn Fein senator Senator Maire Devine

The Sinn Fein senator suspended by her party for retweeting a post describing IRA victim Brian Stack as a "sadist prison officer" has still not apologised in person to his family nearly three weeks later.

Maire Devine was handed down a three-month suspension following her use of social media. After the retweet drew criticism she went on to argue with Mr Stack's son, Austin, on Twitter.

Brian Stack (48) was the chief prison officer in Portlaoise Prison when he was shot by the IRA as he left an amateur boxing contest in 1983. He died 18 months later.


The retweet by Ms Devine referred to his son Austin Stack as the "Fianna Fail son of a sadist prison officer". The retweet has since been deleted from her twitter account.

While a statement was issued on behalf of Ms Devine by the Sinn Fein press office, Mr Stack has said his family has received no apology in person.

He has called on Ms Devine to "take the honourable action and resign her seat in the Seanad".

The Sinn Fein statement said it was never the senator's intention "to cause any distress or hurt, particularly to victims of the conflict".

Austin Stack, son of murdered prison officer Brian Stack
Austin Stack, son of murdered prison officer Brian Stack

"I want to offer my most sincere apologies to the family of the late Brian Stack," it said.

Ms Devine also apologised in the Seanad for sharing the post, claiming she hadn't read the full Twitter message before she retweeted it.

Mr Stack criticised Ms Devine for not contacting the family directly to apologise. He added that if she "had any sense of the hurt she has caused she would resign her Seanad seat".

He rejected Sinn Fein's apology and the apology to the Seanad, saying the reality that Ms Devine will be "welcomed back into the party after 12 short weeks is a clear indication to myself and my family that this has not been treated seriously by Sinn Fein's new leaders".

Mr Stack said the new Sinn Fein leader, Mary Lou McDonald, had announced herself as a "new pair of shoes and things would be different".

She also said she has a "zero tolerance for people or actions that bring grief to victims or their families".

Mr Stack rejects these claims by Ms McDonald.

Speaking to the Herald this week, Mr Stack confirmed neither he nor anyone in has family had received a direct apology from Ms Devine.

"I haven't heard anything from her at all," he said.

The Herald approached Ms Devine for comment but none was forthcoming.

The punishment is the same as that given to MP Barry McElduff after he controversially posted a video with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the anniversary of the 1976 Kingsmill massacre.

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