Belfast Telegraph

Gardai probe ex-IRA chief and close pal of Gerry Adams as SF president starts to feel the pressure

Ex-Provo commander is under separate investigation for a series of alleged crimes

By Kevin Doyle

A former IRA boss from Belfast - named by Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in an email to the Republic's police chief in relation to a murder - is being closely monitored by gardaí after returning to Ireland.

The man, who gardaí believe was once a close friend of Mr Adams, is facing very serious charges that are unrelated to the murder of prison officer Brian Stack.

The man's name was one of four included in the email sent by Mr Adams to Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan - a move that has placed his political career under extreme pressure.

The former IRA commander, who is originally from Belfast, is now in the Republic on the back of an extradition order.

He was at the helm of the IRA when Detective Garda Jerry McCabe was killed in the mid-1990s, but he later stepped down and moved abroad.

He was also placed under a separate garda investigation for a series of alleged crimes that rocked the republican movement.

He is being monitored by gardaí ahead of his upcoming court appearance.

Last week it was stated in the Dáil that Sinn Féin TDs Dessie Ellis and Martin Ferris were named in Mr Adams' email which was sent on February 23.

The fourth is also a senior Sinn Féin politician who has had a close working relationship with Mr Adams. Along with Mr Ellis and Mr Ferris, he has denied involvement in the murder of the prison officer.

As the controversy deepened yesterday, Mr Adams said he is not willing to name a fifth person who met with Brian Stack's sons, Austin and Oliver, in 2013.

The Stack brothers travelled in a blacked-out van with the Sinn Féin president to meet this man who confirmed for the first time that members of the IRA carried out the 1983 murder.

When asked repeatedly if he would encourage this individual to hand over details of Mr Stack's killing to gardaí, Mr Adams commented: "That's a matter entirely for him."

While denying that he is withholding information in relation to a murder inquiry, the Sinn Féin politician said the man's identity would not be revealed because he gave "his word".

"This isn't about me protecting anybody, by the way. It's about the integrity and the possibility of getting truth and getting closure for all of those many families."

However, later in the same radio interview he contradicted this view, saying journalists are allowed to protect their sources and he wants to do likewise.

"So I will protect my sources, the same way they do," he said.

Mr Adams was also asked for more details about what 'sanctions' the IRA imposed on the killers of Brian Stack, but replied that he didn't know and wouldn't make any attempt to find out. "Why would I? I'm not an investigative agency. I have learned over the years that if you don't know, you can't tell," he said.

He accused Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael of using the Stack case in an attempt to damage Sinn Féin, even claiming that they had undermined the Dáil. "In order to use this issue to damage Sinn Féin it was resurrected again. It had no place in the Dáil Chamber. What we've seen since actively undermines the Dáil. Michael Martin does this, as does the Taoiseach undermine the integrity of his own office. It undermines agreements which they are party to," Mr Adams said.

UUP justice spokesperson, Doug Beattie MLA, described as "perverse" Mr Adams' comments that his refusal to name IRA figures was similar to journalists refusing to reveal a source.

He said: "The only difference being of course, is that Gerry Adams is referring to a murder, is an elected representative and the leader of a political party, Sinn Fein. Adams' hypocrisy doesn't stop there. Not only will he not cooperate with the forces of law and order in respect to the murder of prison officer Brian Stack, but he presides over a party which is demanding the British Government make known all information about Troubles-related deaths, while he and others play peacemaker and retain information vital in a live murder investigation.

"Indeed, given the track record of the IRA during the Troubles, one could say that there is no organisation or body involved in the Troubles which contains more information than the 'republican movement' of which Sinn Fein was such a key part.

"Any vestiges of credibility the Sinn Fein leader may have had are well and truly gone. His continual denials are making him and his party look ridiculous and their calls for information to allow legacy cases to be dealt with are nothing but hollow words."

"Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland is demanding the State reveals all, whilst in the Republic its representatives invoke a code of omerta that would do credit to the Sicilian Mafia."

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