Gerry Adams says Sinn Fein could provide information on prison officer murder
Gerry Adams has named a number of senior Sinn Fein figures who may have information surrounding the 1983 murder of prison officer Brian Stack in a sensational email sent to Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan.
Three of those named by the Sinn Fein President are well-known politicians, while a fourth man is a suspected former IRA boss, the Irish Independent said.
In the email to Commissioner O'Sullivan, Mr Adams claimed he was given the names by the victim's son, Austin Stack, and was passing them on "in order to remove any uncertainty".
However, Mr Adams is facing serious questions after Mr Stack last night insisted he never gave names to the Sinn Fein President.
The email was sent three days before the General Election - and has now been passed to detectives investigating the brutal killing.
The three serving politicians are household names. The fourth man is suspected of having held a very senior role in the IRA, and is currently facing charges unrelated to IRA membership.
The decision by Mr Adams to name party colleagues in connection with a serious crime is highly unusual. It is understood gardai are set to interview a number of those included.
Austin Stack, who is the deputy governor at Portlaoise Prison, gave a fresh statement to gardai on Wednesday.
He said that by naming senior Sinn Fein figures who may have knowledge about the killing, Mr Adams and his party have "very serious questions to answer in relation to a live murder inquiry".
He said that in any other organisation, the individuals named by Mr Adams would have been suspended pending the investigation's outcome.
Mr Stack met Mr Adams prior to the General Election - but insists at no point did he supply any names.
In the email, sent on February 23, Mr Adams says that in "recent days elements of the media and other politicians claim that I am withholding information relevant to the case".
"I have no information," he adds.
"He (Austin Stack) told me that he had been given these names by Garda and journalistic sources," Mr Adams wrote.
He added: "Austin asked me if I would ask these individuals if they would meet with him to ascertain if they had any information that might assist the family.
"I am sending these names to you in order to remove any uncertainty about this"
Following a series of queries, Mr Adams released a statement to the Irish Independent.
"I responded extensively to this issue when it was raised during the election campaign," the Louth TD said.
"I expressed my sympathy to the Stack family; I did my utmost to assist them, and I said that the killing was wrong. That remains my position," he added.
Brian Stack, who was the chief prison officer at Portlaoise, was shot in the back of the neck by the IRA in Dublin in 1983. He died from brain injuries 18 months later.
In 2013, the IRA admitted to the murder during a meeting with the Stack family at an undisclosed location close to the border. The meeting was arranged by Mr Adams.
The controversy resurfaced in the election campaign after Austin Stack claimed to have been given credible information that two senior members of Sinn Fein were involved in the murder.
The victim's widow, Sheila Stack, has called on Mr Adams to come clean with the truth.
During Sinn Fein's final press conference before polling day, Mr Adams claimed to have spoken to two individuals whose names he said were given to him by Austin Stack.
At that time, Mr Stack denied he gave the names to Mr Adams - and stands over this position.