Belfast Telegraph

Family of Irish prison officer want to meet his Provo killer

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

"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.

"While the IRA can no longer comment on this matter, let me express my sorrow for the pain and hurt your family suffered."

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

They claim Garda detectives botched the original murder inquiry and said detectives now in charge of the case were refusing to co-operate with the family. Father-of-three Mr Stack was chief prison officer at Portlaoise, which housed republican inmates, when he was shot in the back of 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.

The IRA, who denied the murder at the time, has now told the Stack family the "brutal prison regime" at Portlaoise was "the context in which IRA volunteers shot your father".

Austin Stack asked Gerry Adams in May if he could help secure an IRA confession.

They had to seek answers 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", Austin said.

"The Garda authorities have never provided our family with an adequate explanation for these shortcomings," he added.

The family said they remain frustrated with the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation's current handling of the case.

They requested a meeting last January with Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, but have still received no positive response.

Several meetings with Mr Adams in recent months led to last week's two-hour secret rendezvous with a former IRA leader.

The ex-IRA leader read the statement before asking them to transcribe it for themselves.

Austin Stack said the meeting has brought an element of closure for the family, but they still have many unanswered questions.

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

Belfast Telegraph

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