Brian Stack was the chief officer in Portlaoise prison in March 1983 when he was shot and grievously wounded. The IRA said it was not involved. A year and a half later Brian Stack died as a result of his injuries.
Mr. Stack was a married man with three young sons. Since then the family have sought answers to questions about who shot their father and why.
At the beginning of May I met Austin and Oliver Stack in Leinster House. They asked for my assistance in seeking answers and closure to questions they had surrounding the killing of their father. I told them I would try to help.
From that time I worked with Austin and Oliver to establish whether the IRA was involved in their father’s death.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 his conclusions are contained in the family statement which states that the former IRA leader: “Acknowledged that the IRA was responsible for the death of Chief Officer Brian Stack and that IRA members acting under orders carried out this attack. We were further informed that the IRA leadership had not sanctioned the attack and upon becoming aware that its members, acting under orders, carried out the attack, the IRA disciplined the member responsible for issuing the instruction.
The statement also expressed regret that it had taken so long to clarify this matter and acknowledged that the attack should not have taken place. An expression of sorrow for the pain and hurt suffered by our family was also included.”
Also in their statement the family said: “This process has brought an element of closure to our family …”
I want to pay tribute to the Stack family – to Sheila Stack and her sons, Austin, Kieran and Oliver.On behalf of Sinn Féin I extend my regret at the killing of Brian.
I hope that these recent developments will help them achieve the closure they have sought for 30 years.Addressing complex and painful legacy issues is an enormous challenge.
Dealing with the human consequences of conflict in terms acceptable to victims and their families is very difficult, especially in the absence of a process which provides for the voluntary participation of witnesses.Nonetheless it is a challenge which republicans will not shy away from.
This generation of republican activists who lived through and survived the war have a duty and a responsibility to do our best to help victims and families.