On December 26th, what would have been Sandy’s 73rd birthday, there were about 50 posts on his Facebook page. Most were aware of his death and sent tributes, which were great to read.
Let me add, I missed being able to send him a Christmas birthday card. Mostly though, we miss his political wisdom and understanding of the need for resistance that is so needed during these difficult times.
Richard Crowley (RC) speaks to Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams (GA) about the fallout from the controversy over a leaked email and a senior IRA person in connection with the killing of prison officer Brian Stack in 1983.
RC: First the fallout from the controversy over the killing by the IRA of prison officer Brian Stack in Dublin more than thirty years ago. The issue is back in the news over the leaking of an email sent by the Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, to the Garda Commissioner earlier this year in which he included the names of four people, some said to be senior members of Sinn Féin, to whom the Gardaí should speak. But now the Stack Family, and others, want the Sinn Féin leader to reveal the name of the senior IRA man who met the Stack brothers in 2013 and who issued a statement on that occasion admitting that the IRA carried out the shooting, that it was unauthorised and that the person who ordered the shooting had been ‘disciplined’. Gerry Adams joins us from our Belfast studio. Good Afternoon.
GA: Good Afternoon, Colm.
RC: You made it very clear in your interview with Audrey Carville on Friday’s Morning Ireland that you don’t intend to reveal to the Gardaí the name of the IRA man that you took the Stack brothers to see. Have you spoken to this man since these latest developments?
GA: No, I haven’t but let me contextualise this if I may this for your listeners: First of all let me say once again that Brian Stack should never have been killed. It was wrong. Second of all there have been three phases to this controversy. In the first instance when the Stack Family came to me and Austin and I put together a process and we concluded that process and Austin thanked me for that and I went on about my own work. Micheál Martin said nothing. Enda Kenny said nothing. And then three years later along comes the general election and in order to use this issue to damage Sinn Féin it was resurrected again…
RC: …Alright, well…
GA: …Sorry, I just want to finish my point…
RC: …I know but in fairness, in fairness…
GA: ….No. Let me finish my point, please…
RC: …I know but in fairness…
GA: …Please let me finish my point…
RC: …Could you please answer, could you please answer some questions before…
GA: …When you resist…
RC: …you go back into what we’ve heard much about in the last number of days.
GA: No. You have not interviewed me before. Let me finish my point. I could have finished it by now if you hadn’t interrupted me.
RC: Go ahead.
GA: The third time it came up – because the election ended, the issue abated. The third time it came up was when Micheál Martin again went into the chamber in Leinster House, two weeks in a trot, and raised this issue once again. It had no place in the Dáil chamber but what we’ve seen since actively undermines the Dáil, Micheál Martin does this as does the Taoiseach, undermines the integrity of their office and undermines agreements which they are party to.
RC: Okay now, should you not talk to this IRA man, this man that you took the Stack brothers to meet? Should you not talk to him to see whether he’s willing to talk to Gardaí – to waive this confidentiality agreement that you had with him such as it is.
GA: Well don’t say: ‘such as it is’. In the absence of any formal truth recovery process we put together a process. I gave commitments to the Stack Family which I kept to. I gave a commitment to the person who I brought them to meet which I intend to keep to as well. And if I could say furthermore…
RC: …No, could you answer the question, please. Should you not talk to him now to see whether he’s willing to talk to Gardaí?
GA: Well that’s a matter entirely for him. I don’t…
RC: …No, no, no. It’s a matter for you to put it to him…
GA: …Colm, please don’t go off on a tangent…
RC: …And I’m sorry, it’s Richard.
GA: Sorry, Richard.
RC: But perhaps you should talk to him to see if he’s prepared to talk to Gardaí. Why would you not do that?
GA: Because I gave my word and I don’t intend – and it isn’t about me protecting anyone by the way – it’s about the integrity and the possibility of getting truth, in getting closure for all of those many families who are looking for it.
RC: And this is a way to do that? You have said in the recent past that anybody who knows anything should come forward and that clearly has to include this individual. The question to you is: Why don’t you talk to him about volunteering to come forward and to talk to the Gardaí about what he knows?
GA: Because I gave my word to the family and to him and indeed the family, when we met with him, the two brothers, reassured him that there would be no repercussions in any of this…
RC: …I’m not asking you to reveal his name. I’m asking you…
GA: …I’m sorry I have answered the question…
RC: …No, you haven’t.
GA: Yes, Richard, I have.
RC: No. Why wouldn’t you ask him?
GA: I have no intention of revisiting this part of that issue. Let me tell you something else…
RC: …You don’t want to ask him to do that. Okay. Let’s leave that one there then.
RC: Why did you wait two years to give the names to the Gardaí?
GA: Because I was accused at that time, which I had not been accused of before, of withholding information from the Gardaí. I was not accused of that previously.
RC: Which is true. You were withholding the information from the Gardaí, weren’t you?
GA: The information that I have is limited to what I was told by Austin Stack. I have no information whatsoever about who killed, who shot, who was part of the murder of Brian Stack and I made it clear in my email to the Gardai. And incidentally, I have since written to An Garda Siochána about once again information which I have given them ending up with…
RC: …Sure. But doesn’t it…
GA: …Sorry, please let me finish my point, Richard. ….ending up with an Irish Independent journalist. And apparently some journalists went round asking TDs to raise these issues in the chamber again the subverting the process in there. So what we need to do is this and I would like, if I possibly can, to make this point before the end of this interview…
RC: …It would be great if you can answer a couple of questions first and here’s one: Austin Stack gave you those names in 2013. You did not pass them onto the Gardaí until 2016. Why the delay?
GA: Because he said he got the names from the Gards and from journalistic sources and he said that the Gards knew of these names. Now I only, I was very clear in the course of the election campaign, gave the email to the Garda Commissioner in order to get rid of any ambiguity about the accusation made by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael spokespersons that I was withholding information. I never withheld any information whatsoever.
RC: But, did Austin Stack not give you the names in 2013 on the understanding that they would be passed onto the Gardaí?
GA: No, he didn’t. He gave me an order to try and talk to those people. That’s what he did.
RC: And it looks, though, as if you simply did it at the last minute, three days before the general election, because you were under pressure from Fianna Fáil and you were trying to protect yourself politically. If the names were valid in 2016 they were surely valid in 2013.
GA: Richard, you’re not listening to what I’m saying. I gave the names given to me by Austin Stack for precisely the reason which I outlined and which you have just repeated – that I was being accused of withholding information and I was not withholding information.
GA: The Gardaí, according to Austin Stack, had these names – he had given them to them. Now I just want to come to one point to put this in a more general context: The Stormont House Agreement was signed-off in 2014. And this is trying to deal, this part of the agreement, is trying to deal with this vexed issue of so-called legacy issues. And that put in place an international agreement – it was drafted, it was agreed and it was led at the Oireachtas in Westminster just in January of 2016. Now it hasn’t been worked on yet because the British continue to exercise a National Security veto but this includes a commission and an information retrieval process and what’s at the heart of it? That the information would be confidential, would be anonymous and would not be admissible as evidence of any legal proceeding. Our government signed up for that. The leader of Fianna Fáil signed up for that. They’ve just torn it up by the ridiculous play-acting, the ridiculous way they have used this dreadful murder to try and get me and at Sinn Féin.
RC: Now, The Stacks say that you’re withholding information from a murder inquiry. Your defence is that you gave your word to a man who is a member of the illegal organisation which carried out the murder of their father. Now no detective would accept that. No judge would deem that permissible. You’re withholding information from a murder inquiry and no…
GA: …What information am I withholding?
RC: The information about the man’s name. The man you took The Stacks to meet.
GA: Okay. You’re a journalist. Do you protect your sources?
RC: Yes, I do.
GA: Okay. The person who broke this story for The Independent refused to give the sources. Mattie McGrath, who says that he was lobbied by a journalist who named these names, says he won’t name the sources. The guy who behaved, I think, with the connivance of his own leadership, the Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell, says he won’t reveal his sources. I’m about the more serious business of trying to make peace so I will protect my sources the same as they do.
RC: Sure. Right. But you have the name of somebody who’s a member of the illegal organisation which carried out that murder and you believe that that agreement between you and him has a standing that in some way nullifies any investigation to be carried out by any detective by any police force, do you?
GA: I’m prepared to cooperate with An Gardaí and I’ve been in touch with An Garda with that regard but this wasn’t just an agreement between me and one individual – this was myself and Austin Stack and I think Austin has acknowledged that we had a…
RC: …He doesn’t have a problem with you naming this man.
GA: Sorry, well I read in the papers this morning, if I read it properly, that he actually has named this person and there’s a person’s name that’s in the media and again The Independent newspaper…
RC: …And this person has denied it. But again, this goes back to the first question. Why not give this person an opportunity to say what they know or don’t know about this?
GA: …Well I’ve answered that question. Would you come back to the more important issue, which, I noticed in the Marian Finucane programme this morning, despite the usual begrudgery from some, that we were starting to get into a more sober conversation about how we plot a course forward for dealing with all of the issues affecting all of the victims…
RC: …When did you…
GA: …Sorry, sorry, sorry, Richard. Let me finish…
RC: …Alright, but…
GA: …I have just cited to you an agreement which is an international agreement…
GA: …which is in the Oireachtas which is in the British House of Commons which took a huge amount of work to put in place and which our government is now in breach of. Now is that not something that we’d want to discuss?
RC: It certainly is and it’s certainly one that we’d be most keen to discuss with government officials…
GA: …Well discuss it with me as well because I was part of that agreement!
RC: Certainly. And you’ve had your say on it now and as soon as we get the Justice Minister or the Taoiseach in here we’ll ask them about it. When did you find out that the IRA had killed Brian Stack?
GA: Shortly before the meeting.
RC: Not ’til then?
RC: And back in ’83 and ’84 when Mr. Stack was shot and subsequently died, clearly the killing of a prison officer in Dublin was a major event and under the IRA rule book this was a breach of your own rules. Surely you knew about it and knew that it was unauthorised at that time?
GA: Well first of all they aren’t my rules. Second of all, because they were against the rules I didn’t think for a moment that there was any Republicans involved. And if you go back and listen to what Austin Stack said to me at the time that the family wanted to know: Was the IRA involved? They suspected the IRA may be involved. They also suspected it might have been the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army). There’s was some talk about criminal elements being involved. They actually told me, which I can understand, that that was causing an awful lot of angst for them.
RC: Would you like to see the people behind the killing of Brian Stack being brought to justice in a court in the Republic?
GA: I want to see everybody cooperating with An Garda Siochána. I accept again, as part of the Stormont House Agreement, and you would be advised to maybe inform your listeners about that, there is, as part of the number of processes for dealing with the past that includes, for those who want it, judicial processes, police investigations, coroner’s courts, historical investigations. We have…
RC: …But this was an unauthorised killing by somebody within the IRA for which they were sanctioned. Is that covered then by that agreement?
GA: You’re missing my point, Richard…
RC: …But then you’re saying…
GA: …We have signed up for a process which includes the right of those victims’ families who want it through court proceedings. We have signed up for it. How did you miss that, Richard?
RC: So you would like to see the people behind the killing of Brian Stack brought to justice in a court in The Republic, would you?
GA: I want to see all, all of the families, including the Stack Family, getting the type of closure they want, whether that means through courts, whether that means through truth recovery, whether that means acknowledgment or whether that means they just have the peace to get on with their lives.
RC: What was the sanction imposed on this individual who carried out this or who ordered this unauthorised killing?
GA: I don’t know.
RC: Have you made attempts to find out?
GA: No, I haven’t.
RC: Why not?
GA: Why would I? I’m not an investigative agency. I…
RC : …Is it not relevant?
GA: It may well be but I’m not an investigative agency. I have learned over the years that if you don’t know you can’t tell. So I can tell you my focus was in getting this family what they asked for: Acknowledgment if the IRA was involved – an explanation of that.
RC: So if the Stack Family asked you what was the sanction, or if you could find out what the sanction was, in that instance you’d find out? But if they don’t ask you don’t ask. Is that how it works?
GA: By the way, see as far as I’m concerned on this case I delivered on this case. In 2013 we came to a conclusion on the process that I was involved in. I did my very best. I’m disappointed about the way that it has turned out. It’s clearly being used by the Fianna Fáil leader and by the Taoiseach and by others.
RC: You’ve made that point.
GA: Sorry, no I want to…
RC: …You made that point.
GA: …I want to make it again…
RC: …But you’ve made that point.
GA: So as far as I’m concerned, my involvement, I will go and talk to An Garda Siochána. I will…
RC: …But you won’t continue…
GA: I will continue to help to work with other families but as far as I’m concerned I have done my best. The Stack Family, contrary of their position in 2013, are accusing me of things of which I am not guilty.
RC: Final quick question for you: Will the whole furore over this case prompt you to decline any further requests to help people looking for information about dead or missing family or relatives? And we know that there should be a proper process put in place but in the interim will you continue to operate this Ad Hoc process that you’ve been involved in for the last number of years of helping relatives looking for information?
GA: I don’t know. I think it’s unlikely but I don’t know because when someone comes to you and they tell you their sad story, as one of that generation of Republicans who have survived the conflict, I do feel the duty to try and bring as much comfort, as much closure, as much truth as is possible but when it’s all reduced and subverted, as this has been by others who are trying to make party political capital out of it, then I think that subverts what those of us who actually work at this thing every single day of our lives – it makes it very difficult for us to do it. And I want to come back to the point once again if I may: It isn’t that there should be processes in place – there are processes in place.
RC: But they’re not operating is the point.
GA: Because the British government will not act on it and because our government will not act on it and because our government, by the way they’ve handled this case, have actively subverted an international agreement which they were privy and party to.
GA: …They should be upholding the rights of others…
RC: …Okay, you’ve made that point. We have to leave it there…
GA: …and they should stop making…
RC: …We have to cut across you, Gerry, you’ve got…
GA: …party political (inaudible)…
RC: Okay. You’ve made that point. Thank you very much indeed for talking to us, Gerry Adams. (ends)
Audrey Carville (AC) interviews Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams (GA) about giving the authorities the name of the person who confirmed that Brian Stack was killed by the IRA.
AC: Gerry Adams, Good Morning.
GA: Good Morning, Audrey.
AC: You’re embroiled in another controversy to do with The Troubles and the IRA’s actions. Do you know specifically who murdered Brian Stack?
GA: No, I don’t. And let me say again that Brian Stack should never have been killed. He should never had been murdered. That shooting was wrong. I’ve been very, very clear about all of that. And let’s just you know rehearse very briefly, Audrey, what happened: The Stack Family came to me in 2013 and we put together a collaborative process to try and achieve what they wanted. And what did they want? They said they wanted to know if the IRA had killed their father. They wanted acknowledgment. They wanted closure. They said they didn’t want revenge. They were not interested in anyone going to jail. Austin expressed a wish to meet those who were involved and so on. He told me he was very engaged himself in restorative justice and he’d like to meet those responsible. And I told him that I thought it would be very unlikely that we would ever get him names. That if the IRA was involved that certainly, in the short term, I didn’t think that those responsible would meet with him but in the longer term God knows what was possible. And we worked out a process. The two of us sat down and put together a process that could have worked and it was based on confidentiality and trust. And I actually thought that I’d developed a good working relationship with Austin in the course of all of that. And I think he has acknowledged this confidentiality and the process that we put together.
AC: And as far as you were concerned, after that meeting in 2013 with the man with whom you along with the Stack brothers met as far as you were concerned was that the end of the process?
GA: Well that’s exactly what happened, Audrey. If you recall…
AC: …But why then two years later, three years later, in 2016, why were you sending email to the Garda Commissioner containing names?
GA: Well if you check out any of your records and let me just answer your question very directly: When we met the person involved as part of the process that we had agreed Austin actually reassured the person involved that he would keep his confidentiality that even if the Gards came to him that they wouldn’t be working with them. They were grateful. He put out a statement – now even though they got hard news – and I don’t want to minimise the fact that this is their Daddy who was shot and subsequently died as a result of the shooting, they put out a statement thanking me, saying that they had got more information than three Garda investigations and then as you said the process more or less ended at that point. And then what happened was three years later there was an election campaign and Micheál Martin and Fine Gael representatives then resurrected this issue and it was part of a negative election campaign led by Micheál Martin and some senior Fine Gael people against me and against the Sinn Féin party and the confidentiality agreement was thrown out.
AC: …Okay, so clearly now…
GA: …I was accused in the course of that. Sorry, sorry – just let me make this – I was accused in the course of that of withholding information from An Garda Siochána. The only information I had was that that was given to me by Austin Stack. And I didn’t see Prime Time but I have a note of it and I’m advised that Austin Stack had accused me of breaking the confidentiality…
AC: …He did, yes…
GA: …(crosstalk) of all of this because he said I gave names and disclosed things that were said at a meeting to An Garda Siochána…
GA: …and all along he’s been denying that he gave me names and now clearly he accepts it.
AC: But coming back to the point of the Stack Family whose father was murdered by the IRA: They clearly want justice. They’re clearly not satisfied with not knowing specifically who murdered their father and not being in a position to have any sort of meeting with that person or however they view justice. Now they said that the man you met in 2013 – you described him as a ‘trusted confidante’ – have you ever asked that man who specifically murdered Brian Stack?
GA: No, I didn’t and let me say this…
AC: …Why not?
GA: …so bear with me. I asked that man to see if he could investigate, in the first instance, was the IRA involved at all. The first I got of what we were being told was when we met with him. The meeting with him was the one which was done – it wasn’t meeting with me – it was a meeting with the Stack brothers which I facilitated. Now, this is a really important point: When the election campaign passed this issue passed. That was a year ago. It’s only come up again and it’s only come up again because once again two weeks in a trot the Fianna Fáil leader has brought this issue into the floor of the Dáil chamber…
AC: …Yes, but Austin and Oliver Stack…
GA: …that is no place…
AC: …and their other brother and their mother they remain and they want answers…
GA: …Of course…
AC: …and the man who met with them in…
GA: …Of course they do but…
AC: …Yes, but let me ask the question…
AC: …The man who met with them in 2013 clearly knows who killed their father. You know that man. So are you going to give his name to the authorities so that they can interview him?
GA: Well, I want to finish the point I was trying to make…
AC: …No. It’s a very simple and direct question.
GA: I’m going to answer your question, Audrey, please. The fact is this should not be a party political issue or part of the debate in Leinster House that we have seen…
GA: …over the last number of…
AC: …you have made that point.
AC: …You’ve made that point…
GA: …and secondly…
AC: …Yeah. Are you going to give that man’s name to the authorities?
GA: Well let me answer that. Austin Stack says he knows the name. He says he’s given the name to An Garda Siochána. Now why on earth, when he was part of a process that he and I put together, which is more important than me, which is more important than the man that we met and which is more important, with respect, than any one single family – and I absolutely sympathise with the Stack Family. There are thousands of families…
GA: …who want a truth and reconciliation…
AC: ….Gerry Adams…
GA: …process (crosstalk)…
AC: …will you give that man’s name – No, will you give that man’s name to the authorities?
GA: I have set out in the Dáil why we should not, if we want a proper truth and reconciliation process, if we want to bring closure to all the families involved, that we have to honour commitments given…
GA: …I gave a commitment to the Stack Family…
AC: …Will you give that man’s name to the authorities, yes or no?
GA: I’ve already pointed out to you, Audrey, and stated in the Dáil why we should not give these names and why we need – in order to get an integrity into a process which will bring relief and closure to all the families involved why we have to honour agreements made. I gave commitments to the Stack Family. I kept my commitments.
AC: …Yes, so…
GA: …I will continued to do that.
AC: As an elected TD, as a member of the Oireachtas of this state, you are saying that while you may have information on a crime you are not going to pass that information to the authorities.
GA: No, I’m not saying. I don’t have information on a crime.
AC: You know the man who knows who killed Brian Stack.
GA: Well sorry, the, the – Austin Stack has said that the individual we met told us he met the perpetrators. He didn’t tell us that. Austin Stack also said he told us that they were alive. He didn’t tell us that, either. What he told us was contained in a typed statement which was given to the Stack brothers which they then wrote down and they then asked him a number of questions and all of that – I took very little part in the discussion at all. And they then released…
AC: …No, but you know the person who knows who killed Brian Stack and you’re saying this morning that you’re not going to give that person’s name to the authorities.
GA: Audrey, you didn’t hear what I said. He never said he knew who killed Brian Stack. He said, which he had been asked to do, that he had information that the IRA was involved and then he explained that and that is a matter of public record. Now let me come round to this point…
AC: …No, he also said, he also said that that person was disciplined.
AC: How was he disciplined?
GA: I don’t know.
AC: Was he shot?
GA: I don’t – well if I don’t know I don’t know – but let me come round to this point…
AC: ….I mean did you not ask questions of this?
GA: No, I didn’t. Because the job that I had to do was to bring closure to this family on a very specific brief which they had given me and which I delivered for them and I’ve done this with other families in the past. Now, if we come round to all of this and the way it’s being handled now, and bear in mind there is no truth and reconciliation process in place, despite commitments from the two governments, despite obligations on our Taoiseach and on successive British Prime Ministers there’s still not a process in place. How on earth are we going to get such a process in place if it becomes – and if this awful killing of this man, like all of the others, becomes a subject of a political point-scoring that’s ongoing…
AC: …But Gerry Adams…
GA: …how on earth can you break commitments that were given? How on earth if we break confidential processes are we going to get to the end of the road for all of the families who’ve been bereaved or have injured loved ones? How are we going to do it?
AC: …But Gerry Adams, how on earth can there be any truth process when most people believe that you cannot tell the truth about this?
GA: Well, I have told the truth about this and incidentally, in all that I have done in relation to these issues, I helped with the Smithwick investigation, I’m still working on the issue of trying to return the bodies of the ‘disappeared’ …
AC: …But Gerry Adams you have denied…
GA: …I have been working – sorry, sorry, sorry – but Martin McGuinness…
AC: …just let me finish…
GA: …and others…
AC: …let me finish…
GA: …and that has to be our focus in this case.
AC: Yes. But you have denied being in the IRA. You have denied that the IRA robbed the Northern Bank. You denied the IRA murdered Detective Garda Jerry McCabe. You denied the Colombia Three were training FARC. You denied Máiría Cahill and Paudie McGahon’s claims. How can you ask of others what you’re not prepared to do yourself?
GA: Well first of all I am prepared and I’ve said this very publicly – and there is a huge difference between the atmosphere and the acoustics around this issue in this part of the island and in the other part of the island. I have said quite publicly, and Martin McGuinness has said quite publicly and we have put forward propositions and ideas and proposals because our generation of Republicans, who have survived the conflict, want to bring to an end to those families who are still seeking truth and that’s our commitment. And I said I would cooperate with any process and I think the proof of that, Audrey, if you’re looking for the proof is: Did I deliver for the Stack Family in terms of what they asked me to do?
GA: …They said, not me, that they thanked me for what I had done in 2013. That was three years ago. The issue was only resurrected in the midst of an election campaign and the issue is only resurrected now because the Fianna Fáil leader and the Taoiseach are politically point-scoring on this issue…
GA: …while they, they – sorry – while they have failed to put forward the type of process that would bring closure to all of the families who need closure…
Jonathan Healy (JH) speaks to former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon (SM) about the raging controversy between Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and the Stack Brothers concerning the 1983 death of Brian Stack.
** Note: Where’s the audio? Please click on the hyperlink in the title to hear the audio as you read along. Thank you.
JH: Gerry Adams is standing firm on the Brian Stack murder controversy and to handing over information to Gardaí in connection with the case. A little while ago he was speaking to Audrey Carville on Morning Ireland where he reiterated what he has said since all of this began.
Audio: Portion of Gerry Adams’ 9 December 2016 Morning Ireland interview is played.
JH: It’s interesting listening to that because – let’s just put the proper context on it: A man was shot and he died and he was murdered. And Gerry Adams entered a process with the Stack Brothers that led to them being bundled in the back of a van and meeting somebody who told them that yes, the IRA, someone in the IRA had done it. And Gerry Adams is now talking about the process, that process. Does that not overlook the fact that a man was murdered? And surely that’s the priority now and that’s what The Stacks want but now Gerry Adams is turning it back on The Stacks by the sounds of it for not respecting that process.
But why is that process all of a sudden so important? Why is that a thing? When the basic reality is that somebody was murdered and it’s a matter for An Garda Siochána to investigate that. And if there’s information out there why can’t it be handed to the Gardaí? Why can’t they deal with that? And why can’t we see a prosecution, or at least attempts made to prosecute somebody, for something that happened admittedly in 1982 and the death in 1983? All of this, once again, has left the country wondering how much the legacy of Mr. Adams and the IRA is holding back his party and how long his colleagues will stand by him because of now, as of right now, they are standing by him, full behind him. To look at this further we’re joined on the line by the former Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Seamus Mallon. Seamus, what do you make of what we’ve been hearing from Gerry Adams and the Stack Brothers in the last few days?
SM: The first thing I’d say is: I’m not surprised. There’s a history there of manipulating information, of telling what are blatant lies and expect it to be believed. And I think in this instance that the family have decided – and they have seen him at first hand, spoke to him at first hand – realised how he was operating and what he was doing and they have rightly decided that’s enough – we can’t take this or not going to take this anymore. And I think the other remarkable thing about it is this: You have to, when you’re listening to the debate about it, when you see him being interviewed or hear him being interviewed, you have to consciously remind yourself that this man is a member of Dáil Éireann, that he’s a leader of a political party, that he is a member of a party that is in government in Northern Ireland and that it doesn’t seem that he recognises the incongruity of where he is and what he’s doing. And for the political process it is a very, very bad thing. People listening and watching – they know liars when they hear them and it is pitiful in the way in which the only person RTÉ could free-out last night to speak Provo-Speak with someone who is not central to the whole argument.
JH: Seamus, is what Gerry Adams has said – does that make his position untenable, in your opinion, because he has faced storms like this before and he has weathered them?
SM: I would be reluctant to predict. We have seen the way in which he ducked in and out of the truth in relation to Jean McConville’s terrible murder. We have seen the way in which his organisation have denied involvement in some of the most high profile killings and then, when they think the opinion has subsided, they then reluctantly say that – and this is the stock reply: Yes, it was someone from our organisation but it wasn’t sanctioned – that is not a position that could be and should be tenable by the leader of a political party, a member of Dáil Éireann and someone who is, as of now, is bringing the political process, damaging the political process and…
JH: …Gerry Adams made the point yesterday, Seamus, in a statement that the dealings with Austin Stack were handled in the way they were handled in the absence of a proper truth recovery process. And that brings us back to the Good Friday Agreement and it brings us back to how we should deal with these things post-that agreement. Do you think there are implications, as has been suggested, for the peace process from all of this?
SM: I think very much so. How can you, in any way, make murdering someone – shooting him in the back – how do you make that compatible with peace and the creation of peace and the development of peace? The reality of the situation is that truth, whatever type of oragnisation it might be, I’d simply pose two questions: If it existed and if it exists in the future does one expect the British government to tell the truth? And does one expect the Provisional IRA, Sinn Féin, to tell the truth? Can anybody put his hand on his heart and say: Yes, I think that we’d get to the truth that way. I don’t believe it. I cannot see the British government, the way it has squirmed on the Pat Finucane case and the way it has refused to face down the people in their organisation who are colluding with murderers, so I don’t have any great belief that such-and-such a process is going to get to the truth. Now, it may help victims. It may be something that would be advantageous for victims but I don’t think it will ever get to this small word and that is the ‘truth’ of what had happened both by the paramilitary organisations and the British government.
JH: Austin Stack says he thinks he knows who the man he met from the IRA was in a meeting that he says was facilitated by Gerry Adams. Do you believe that Gerry Adams knows the identity of that man and what should he do with that information?
SM: I find it incredible that Gerry Adams doesn’t know the information of a man having taken people in a dark van, on a dark night, up a dark road to meet this person. I find it incredible that he says he doesn’t know and it is part of his ploy here, and this is to again, put the onus back on the family. This fella was murdered by them and in the sense that trying to absolve himself he has created another hard fiction in relation to this. Is it conceivably acceptable in any way that a member of Dáil Éireann, the leader of a political party, didn’t know what he was doing? Didn’t know who he was going to see? And yet, tries to pursue the lie that he doesn’t. I find it absolutely unbelievable that he set out to be collected in a van to go on the road to meet somebody that he didn’t know. Those who set the meeting up? I have no doubt that Gerry Adams knew as well.
JH: Seamus Mallon of the SDLP, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us.
Programme host Jerry O’Sullivan (JO) speaks to Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris (MF) via telephone about being named in the Dáil last night in relation to the Brian Stack murder case.
**Note: Where’s the audio? Click on the hyperlink in the title or go to iTunes where you can download this and all Radio Kerry podcasts for free. Thank you.
JO: Now with me on the line is Martin Ferris, Sinn Féin Deputy for Kerry, in relation to those remarkable scenes in the Dáil yesterday evening when Fine Gael Deputy Alan Farrell named both him and Deputy Dessie Ellis in connection to the Brian Stack murder. Deputy Ferris, Good Morning to you.
MF: Good Morning, Jerry.
JO: You were very, very angry in the Dáil yesterday.
MF: Yes. I was, I think it was – You know I knew going in to the Dáil yesterday before Gerry’s speech that Fine Gael had been briefing journalists they were going to name me and name Dessie Ellis. Even I understood, understand, that Alan Farrell said this morning that it was a spontaneous thing for him in the Dáil yet we knew going in somebody was going to name us. I think it was the fact that I had no problem with anybody naming me because I have a clear conscience in that regard. I had already been interviewed by the Gardaí I think it was either late 2012 or early 2013 regarding the Brian Stack killing. I went voluntarily. They requested that I meet with them. I agreed. No problem. We met at an agreed location which was a hotel in Dublin. I was accompanied by my PA, Matt Treasaigh, and there was two detectives there and I had a three hour interview with them regarding Brian Stack’s killing. So it – I had nothing to hide. I’ve a totally and absolutely clear conscience regarding that so to stand up and name me inside the Dáil yesterday was a bit of a publicity stunt for him but in particular for Dessie Ellis. Dessie Ellis was in prison at the time and I detected that he didn’t know it and neither did any of the other TDs on his benches didn’t know that Dessie Ellis had been in prison and I think they were taken back by it. But you know, he could have named me outside. I have no problem – I was already named in the papers anyway.
JO: But then, like when it comes to where it goes where what Gerry Adams said yesterday – do you accept his explanation in relation to his interaction with the Stack Family in relation to this? And what do you make of the fact that Austin Stack feels that Gerry Adams is lying? He called him a liar again yesterday after his statement.
MF: Well when Gerry Adams sent an email to the Garda CommissionerGerry Adams told me then that my name was given by Austin Stack and that I was not named as a suspect but just a name that was given. I had no problem with it whatsoever in the world and neither had, as far as I know, had anybody else that was on that list. So why would Gerry do that? You know what I mean? Why would he name a TD if he hadn’t been given that information from Mr. Stack? But you know it’s – I think the one thing that came out of that statement from Gerry yesterday was the amount of confidentiality that he has adhered to right down through the years in order to bring about a peace process and to deliver on a peace process and the total violation of his commitment by himself and others to try and bring about a resolution to the conflict in Ireland and he has always acted on the aspect of confidentiality because without it he could have achieve nothing.
JO: Okay. Martin, why were you named on that listif youwere not named as a suspect? You and Dessie Ellis – were you named as that there was a suspicion there that you knew something about what had happened to Brian Stack?
MF: My memory of that period, the 2012 and 13 period, is that a number of people all over the country were interviewed by the Gardaí. And obviously somewhere along the line my name was given, along with Dessie Ellis and others, was given to Mr. Stack and that name in turn was passed onto Gerry Adams. And it’s only when John Flanagan in 2000 – I think it was in February of this year – said that Gerry Adams had been given names and he hadn’t pass them onto the Gardaí – given names of suspects. But he was not given names of suspects he was given my name and Dessie Ellis’ name and all he done was oblige by saying: Okay, if you think they’re suspects – if you think I am reneging on my responsibility – he passed those on. And that’s what happened.
MF: But it’s a – I think Alan Farrell let himself down as a solicitor yesterday. I think the very fact you know that it was already out there in the public domain. He was using the house of the Oireachtas for his own publicity, really. And this whole debacle is, you know my name has been – I had absolutely nothing, and know nothing about, who was responsible for killing Brian Stack. I didn’t even know the IRA had anything to do with the killing of Brian Stack until such time as it became public in the last two years.
JO: And on that can you understand people’s reservations, I’ll put it that way, about the way Gerry Adams has dealt with all of this: Going in a blacked-out van to meet with a former IRA leader who confirmed that it was the IRA who murdered Brian Stack, that he hadn’t been sanctioned by senior members of the IRA and that the person who did give the instruction had been disciplined. That was happening at the same time as a live Garda investigation and the central thing that if your party wants to be part of the democratic process and wants to be part of the peace process now you can’t be running a tandem investigation on your own separate to a Garda investigation, separate to the laws of the land.
MF: Okay, yesterday in Gerry’s statement – all of this has been put out in the last number of weeks, particularly by Micheál Martin, to try for political point-scoring against Gerry Adams – it’s been put out there. And it’s a long way from the actual truth. Gerry Adams took…
JO: …Austin and Oliver, yeah…
MF: …Austin Stack and his brother in his car to a location somewhere near the border. They were picked up, all of them, in a van and Gerry Adams had nothing to do with that. They were taken to some house where there was an IRA man who gave an account of what happened to the Stack Family and who also said, in my understanding, and said in that encounter that somebody had been disciplined. It wasn’t Gerry Adams that was saying that. It was the IRA person there that was saying it. So it’s misrepresenting, in a very scurrilous way, to try and damage Gerry Adams and damage Sinn Féin. The truth of the matter is it was at their request that they wanted to go and meet the IRA. It wasn’t Gerry Adams’ request. It was their request. And I think it would be – if everybody read in detail the total account of what Gerry gave yesterday – not just in that instance about leaving Bertie Ahern in a house in Belfast and other officials and going to meet the IRA when they knew that – and coming back from the IRA back to Bertie Ahern to report the whole process.
So it’s – this is – you’re in a situation of trying to resolve outstanding issues in the conflict. Part of that is people who died in the conflict and their families have never got justice and that’s all that Gerry tried to do – tried to get some closure for the family and give the Stack Family justice and he’s done his utmost in that and he’s done it for several other people right down the years. And you know, we have been saying consistently: If we want to get to the bottom of all of this and get this whole murky world of the British intelligence involvement and so forth the government should be pushing for a truth and reconciliation….
JO: …Okay, yeah. I want to ask you about that in more detail. I’m going to ask you to hold on. We’re going to take a quick break and we’ll have more with Deputy Martin Ferris after we take these. (commercial break)
JO: We’re talking to Deputy Martin Ferris about the events of the Dáil sitting yesterday evening in the relation to him and Dessie Ellis being named by Alan Farrell and the whole controversy in relation to the murder of Brian Stack. Deputy Ferris, if I can ask you just before we talk about what needs to happen now to deal with all these legacy issues on all sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland, do you think Gerry Adams, and several people have been saying this, that he is wrong in not naming the IRA figure that allegedly knows who shot Brian Stack and not giving that name to the Gardaí?
MF: Well I think he might ask, too, as well yesterday in his statement, Gerry, if people listened to it. Do you know what I mean? His whole thing – he has to work on the premises of confidentiality. And I’m quite certain he doesn’t know, and I don’t know and I’m certain – I know nobody that knows actually who shot Brian Stack.
JO: But is not making the decision there that he knows better than the Gardaí? That he knows how to handle this better than the force which protects and enforces law and order in Ireland?
MF: I think if you look again at what – and Brian Stack and Austin Stack and his brother’s situation – Gerry only complied with their request and their wishes. They wanted some form of closure and he tried to facilitate that.
JO: That’s not what they want now, Martin. They want full disclosure. And they want all the names. And they want to find out what happened to their father.
MF: Yes,and I think there’s an awful lot – there’s three thousand six hundred people who have died in this conflict and a lot of them in very murky circumstances and I think everybody is entitled to closure and entitled to justice and whatever we have to do. And there’s a huge responsibility on both governments as well – is try to put in place a truth and reconciliation commission that we can get to the bottom of all of this. I was just listening to the radio this morning, you probably were as well, around Stakeknife and the murky world where there’s supposed to be forty-two people died as the result of that British agent. Now, I would like to get to the bottom of that and I’d like to get to the bottom of all – and give justice to everybody who lost loved ones in this conflict. And I think that’s the only way we can do this. Because we’re not going to do it by standing up in the Dáil and naming Martin Ferris and Dessie Ellis. In fact, on my way in here this morning a very senior, a very senior Fine Gael minister came to me and apologised for what happened yesterday. And he’s disgusted by what had happened and you know – there are people of all parties, of like-minds to myself and Gerry and other people – that we want closure on the whole aspect of conflict (crosstalk) (inaudible)
JO: Okay.Was the killing of Brian Stack wrong?
MF: Of course it was.
JO: Do you regret what you said about him in your autobiography – that he was a particularly vindictive individual who was despised by prisoners, other prisoners and Republicans and also by prison officers – his colleagues?
MF: I think – when I was being interviewed for that book, right? I was asked a question about prison management. And what I said about prison management and in particular about Brian Stack – I wish it wasn’t in the book- let’s put it that way – but it was – but what I said about prison management was very, very consistent to what the prison officers’ conference said in 1982 and I’ll quote from it if you want to where two delegates stood up and said: If Hitler was looking for SS men he need look no further than prison management in Portlaoise Prison.
I have a very good friend – I had a very good friend – living only eight miles up the road from where you’re sitting now and that man was in Portlaoise Prison with me. A real smashing person, there was no (inaudible) with that man but he was in Portlaoise Prison. And as a consequence of what he endured in Portlaoise Prison that man died tragically on his release and he’s not the only one. So there’s an awful lot of victims here. There’s a lot of victims that spent years in solitary confinement…
JO: …And does that justify then murdering Brian Stack?
MF: I didn’t say that and I wouldn’t say that.
JO: That’s what it sounds like.
MF: No, I wouldn’t say that for one word.I think we need to find a mechanism where we can resolve all the outstanding issues of conflict. There’s an awful lot of people badly damaged as a result of that conflict right across the board and we need to find some mechanism to bring that about. And I believe, I for one and I’m quite certain the Sinn Féin people that I know would be only too willing to help in bringing that about…
JO: Do you know the name of the IRA figure who allegedly knows who shot Brian Stack?
MF: No, I don’t. No, I don’t. I don’t know anybody that knows it. Somebody knows it but I don’t know anybody that knows it.
JO: Gerry Adams knows it.
MF: No, he doesn’t. He didn’t say that.
JO: He doesn’t know it?
MF: No, he didn’t say that. He never said he knew that. It was in the – going by his statement yesterday where he said that they were told by the IRA person in their presence. I thinkif you get the statement and read it you will see exactly what he said and exactly what he knows.
JO: So this is – you’re talking about – so there’s walls of separation between what Gerry Adams knows – bringing the Stack Brothers in his car to a meeting to meet men who took them in van then to meet the IRA leader that Gerry Adams just doesn’t know any of the people involved?
MF: I don’t know. I don’t believe he does. But I don’t know.
JO: It stretches credulity, though, that he doesn’t know the IRA leader that they were going to meet.
MF: No, he said that he made contact with a person that he knew way back in the IRA to know if something could be found out about this and that person that he knew away back apparently that person was able to put this in place.
JO: Okay, Martin…
MF: …So I think you should read his statement to give justice to what Gerry said yesterday and…
JO: …I heard – I listened to the statement. I watched what happened in the Dáil and it left me with a lot of questions – questions as to why – and this question that I asked you to try and get some answers this morning as to why all the information isn’t being handed over. Look, I accept what you say on one level about confidentiality but on the other you’ve a family suffering here and grieving and a family who are calling the leader of your party a liar. They’re saying that didn’t happen. Austin Stack says I did not give names to Gerry Adams.
MF: WellI will refer you back to what Brian Stack said a number of years ago. He thanked Gerry Adams publicly for all his efforts, thanked him publicly, and appreciated everything that he had done to try and bring closure for them. That’s Brian Stack’s own words.
MF: Sorry, Austin Stack’s words.
JO: Explain for me how – let’s say to take the South African example – how is a truth and reconciliation effort going to work with regards to The North?
MF: WellI think you’ve got to look at good practices and good precedents around the world. There’s the South African model, there’s a new model starting up in Colombia and other areas where a conflict resolution process has been put in place and I think there are enough models out there that would – but it would take the good will of everybody involved…
JO: …Why hasn’t it happen before now?
MF: Because it’s been resisted so particularly by the British government. And you know that. The reason the British government are resisting all of this is because of (crosstalk) (inaudible)
JO: And if they were to acquiesce? Yeah, a lot of murky things went down – a lot of very dastardly things were done that’s for sure. If there was to be one would you fully contribute to it? Would the IRA fully contribute to it? And would all the cards be on the table or would we still meet this wall of confidentiality?
MF: WellI can speak personally for myself here: I would absolutely and totally cooperate to deliver in a truth and reconciliation commission. I’d have no problem doing that. And if everybody I know within the – I’m a former IRA person. Everybody I know, that I worked with in the IRA, I believe would do the same. So you know, it’s – we have to find the way of doing that. The people’s going to resist this most if the British Establishment, the British government, and in particular because of the Dublin-Monaghan bombing and running agents such as Stakeknife. And they’re going to resist it. And they would have to be pressurised by the Dublin government, if the Dublin government is sincere, in trying to find a way…
JO: …If they have the will to do it.
MF: If they have the will to do it.
JO: Okay, final point for you: Is it not a bit rich of you to be getting so upset about what Alan Farrell in the Dáil yesterday given Mary Lou McDonald used Dáil privilege to name, wrongly as it turned out, names of former parties with Ansbacher accounts?
MF: Well, I had no problem with being named.I thought it was just…
JO: …You got very angry in the Dáil last night.
MF: I did because it was done for a cynical reason. I was already in the paper, Jerry. I had nothing in the world to worry about. I was already in the paper. I had already been – and I’m quite certain that the party that was responsible for naming me and Dessie Ellis knew certainly that I had already been interviewed and that I had no case to answer– and they knew that. And it’s a – in Dessie Ellis’ case Dessie Ellis was in prison and I’m quite certain, unless they’re stupid, they knew that as well. So you know they were naming somebody with an inference that they may be suspects even though they didn’t name us as suspects, an inference that we may be suspects – that they knew full well it had nothing to do with us – and you know so much so that a senior cabinet minister came to me today and apologised. And I’m not making that up.
MF: Do you know what I mean? I have lived my life as a Republican activist in the IRA and I have always respected – there are things I could say about people in other parties and I’ve kept my mouth shut and will never betray people but I’ve kept my mouth shut – that would highly embarrass Micheál Martin and his party and others if I wish to do so.
JO: Okay. What do you mean by that?
MF: Well, we’ll leave it at that because I have never betrayed anybody in my life and I’m not going to start now.
JO: You’re saying you’ve information on them that would be politically embarrassing. Is that correct?
MF: It would be more than politically embarrassing maybe. You know, I’ve been involved since 1969- 1970 I’ve been involved actively. And over those years I came into contact with an awful lot of people.
JO: People from…
MF: …I will take their confidence to my grave.
JO: To your grave – soyou’re not threatening them by saying that this morning?
MF: No, I’m not. But I am just saying I have lived by the principles that I stand for and I will never betray those principles. And people can be very secure in that.
JO: And you feel the other side are betraying principles?
MF: No. I think they are – what they are doing is – maybe in denial of some of their people’s past, you know, that what they are doing is for political opportunism. You know they were well aware, in particular Fianna Fáil, were well aware of the confidentiality aspect of the entire process…
JO: …Sure, butFianna Fáil…
MF: …Going right back to 1998…
JO: …I mean, Fianna Fáil weren’t involved in murdering people.
MF: …Going right back to 1998 Fianna Fáil were a part, were well-acquainted, the Fianna Fáil leadership were well-aware of the confidentiality necessity in order to bring about conflict resolution and we have lived to that to the letter.
JO: You’ve lived – and you feel they’re not they’re living to it now? That Micheál Martin is taking advantage of it?
MF: No, I think what they’re doing is for opportunistic reasons and for to try at political point-scoring that they are effectively playing kamikaze with everything that has been done down through the years in order to bring about conflict resolution…
JO: …Do you feel though that they’regoing to destroy the peace process? Is that what you’re saying?
MF: They’ll never destroy the peace process. They have lost interest in the peace process a long time ago. There are enough of us around that will make sure that that peace process survives and continues to grow because we were – we have – if it weren’t for that peace process there’d be an awful lot more people dead and thankfully it has brought an end to military conflict in our country. It has brought an end – it has created a framework where people can address the outstanding difficulties in a democratic and in a peaceful manner. And we have done that and played our role in doing that and we have to do that every single day because we live – our people live in the zones where the conflict took place and they know how easy it could slip back and that’s why we work so hard and it’s not for any type of electoral/political gain it’s because it’s the right thing to do.
JO: Okay, alright Deputy Martin Ferris. Thanks for talking to us this morning. That’s Sinn Féin Deputy Martin Ferris with his view on all of that. What do you make of what he had to say? Get in touch with us on the programme this morning. We’ll have more after we take these. (ends)
Programme Host Mary Wilson (MW) speaks to former Republican prisoner and blanketman now historian, writer and political analyst Anthony McIntyre (AM) about the latest developments in the raging controversy over the clash between Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and Austin Stack.
MW: Brian Stack was a senior officer at Portlaoise Prison which held many Republicans at the height of The Troubles. Mr. Stack was shot in the back of the neck on the twenty-fifth of March 1983 as he left a boxing match in Dublin. From the RTÉ Radio archives here’s Seán O’Rourke reporting news of that shooting.
Audio: Portion of Seán O’Rourke’s news report from 1983 is played.
MW: Brian Stack died from his injuries the following year. In the Summer of 2013 the IRA admitted to his murder. When that admission finally came Brian Stack’s son, Austin, along with the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, spoke to me here on Drivetime and Austin Stack told me about the role Gerry Adams played in securing that admission.
Audio: Portion of Wilson’s 2013 interview with Austin Stack is played and is transcribed below.
Austin: We met Gerry Adams. We had an open and frank discussion with him. We laid it on the line for him. We told him that he could trust us, myself and Oliver. And…
MW: …What did you want to know?
Austin: We wanted, what we wanted was an acceptance, we wanted the responsibility – we wanted the IRA to admit responsibility – that is key for us. I told Gerry Adams that I did have private information, that I had information that would lead me to believe the IRA were responsible and that I had information that I would maybe know the individuals that were responsible.
MW: Was he open to what you were asking of him?
Austin: He was. He told us that, initially he told us that what he would do was – there would be no promises – and he said I’ll go away and see what I can do. He said I will try and help you. (2013 interview audio ends)
MW: With Gerry Adams’ help Austin and his brother were taken to meet a senior IRA figure known to them only as ‘John’. (2013 interview audio resumes and is transcribed below.)
Austin: Essentially they told us that it was a group of IRA members had carried out the attack acting on the orders from their commanding officer. The IRA expressed regret for what had happened to my father. They also put in context the reasons why an attack on my father would have happened. They did also say it that it hadn’t been sanctioned by the leadership and that when the leadership of the IRA became aware that it was their members that carried out the attack that they disciplined the individual who issued the instruction.
MW: Did you ask what happened to the Volunteer?
Austin: No, to be honest I didn’t ask what happened to the Volunteer. I preferred maybe to stay away from that. (2013 interview audio ends)
MW: That was Austin Stack speaking to me in August of 2013. Now the story did not go away. Two weeks ago the Irish Independent revealed that days before the general election in February Gerry Adams contacted the Garda Commissioner and gave her the names of four people who, according to Deputy Adams, were given to him by Austin Stack. Mr. Stack’s murder became an election issue after Austin Stack claimed to have information that senior members of Sinn Féin were connected to his father’s murder. Austin Stack denies that he gave these names to Gerry Adams so last night Deputy Adams made a statement to the Dáil.
Audio: Portion of Gerry Adams addressing the Dáil on the evening of 7 December 2016 is played and is transcribed below.
Adams: In 2013 Austin gave me the names of four people whom he believed might have information on the case. He told me that he had been given these names by journalistic and Garda sources. Now Austin denies giving me names. Why on earth would I say I received the names from him if I didn’t? In February of this year Austin Stack also claimed that he gave the names to the Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin. So if Austin Stack was prepared to give names to Mr. Martin why would he not have given them to me? I was, after all, the person he was asking to arrange a meeting. At Austin’s request I contacted those that I could from the names he gave me. They denied having any information about the killing of Brian Stack. I told Austin Stack this. (audio ends)
MW: In response and under Dáil privilege Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell named two Sinn Féin TDs in connection with this matter.
Audio: Portion of Alan Farrell addressing Dáil on the evening of 7 December 2016 is played and is transcribed below. (The voice of the Ceann Comhairle, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, is also heard.)
Farrell: Ceann Comhairle, I think it entirely appropriate, given Deputy Adams has been afforded the opportunity to explain to the house his involvement and or his discussions with individuals relating to this case, that the two other individuals, who are members of this house, who he himself has named…
Ó Fearghail: …No…
Farrell: …and which are already in the public domain…
Ó Fearghail: …No,no, that’s not a point of order. That’s not a point of order.
Farrell: …that Deputies Ellis and Ferris…
Ó Fearghaíl: …Deputy Farrell…
Farrell: …be given the opportunity to address this house.
Ó Fearghaíl: …would you, would you resume your seat? (audio ends)
MW: Both Martin Ferris and Dessie Ellis deny any knowledge of or connection to Brian Stack’s killing. Again today Austin Stack criticised Gerry Adams and now wants Mr. Adams to give Gardaí the name of his IRA contact.
Austin: Gerry Adams had the name of an individual who he tasked with investigating a murder, the murder of a senior state official. Gerry Adams took myself and my brother to meet that individual. That individual told us that he spoke to the individuals concerned that perpetrated my father’s murder. Gerry Adams needs to go to An Garda Siochána and give that information. (audio ends)
MW: That was Austin Stack speaking to Conor Brophy on today’s News at One. I’m joined now by academic and Republican commentator Anthony McIntyre who has in the past been a sharp critic of Gerry Adams. And Anthony McIntyre, there’s a clear conflict now between Austin Stack’s assertion that he didn’t give Gerry Adams any names and Gerry Adams’ claims that he did. What do you make of this and who do you believe?
AM: Well the balance of probability would suggest that Austin Stack is more reliable in this case. I mean Mr. Adams has a long history of dissembling and prevarication on these matters including his claim never to have been a member of the IRA which nobody believes. And I’m of the view that we really have no option other than to take Austin Stack’s word on this matter.
MW: But if you pick your way through it, why would Gerry Adams give names to Gardaí that he never received, you know? What agenda would that serve?
AM: Well it seems to me that Mr. Adams is preparing his grassroots for whatever deal is going to be struck or arranged in The North in relation to the legacy issues of the past and I think he has given the approval, in some way – given the nod of approval – to people to inform on colleagues that, former colleagues, who for one reason or another have fallen foul of the leadership and they will be blamed for the activities that the IRA carried out and the people associated with Mr. Adams and the Army Council will be exonerated. And I think it’s part of a wider game plan.
MW: Because in the past Sinn Féin has been criticised for the circling of the protective wagons when they’re faced with a crises and now you have Gerry Adams throwing four senior Republicans under the bus which is a break with form, isn’t it?
AM: Well it’s a major departure in many ways from the type of things that Republicans used to do and the Army Council, which Mr. Adams sat on, used to sentence people to death for informing. Mr. Adams himself said, in respect to the death of Charles McIlmurray, that the penalty for informing is death and Mr. McGuinness said it in respect of Frank Hegarty that the penalty for informing is death and people know this. So it’s a very serious departure but Mr. Adams and his party have basically thrown all Republican ideology and all Republican principle under the bus in pursuit of their political careers and I think this is something else that has really, to use your term, been ‘thrown under the bus’, as they try to become more respectable, more part of the Establishment. I think the whole business of bringing Austin Stack to meet with an IRA member to explain something about the killing of Brian Stack was really not about throwing any real serious light on what happened. I think it was about distancing the leadership, of which Mr. Adams was a part, from the actual killing, the authorising of the killing of Brian Stack.
MW: What about like in Leinster House Gerry Adams has a credibility issue with rival political parties but what about his standing in Republican circles? He’s now an informant having handed over names to the Garda Commissioner.
AM: Well, I mean he is guilty of what he has accused other people of. For example I mean, Danny Morrison, who has carried out a role similar to Denis Donaldson in smearing people who have disagreed with the Sinn Féin leadership, actually began calling people who were associated with the Boston College project ‘Boston College Touts’. He was labeling me ‘Anthony McIntout’ for carrying out the type of research that we were carrying out and nobody was going to law enforcement with anything there. Now what has happened is Mr. Adams in this case is guilty, in my view, of the offence of informing law enforcement about former IRA Volunteers but his own party will not view him as an informer. They will manage to con themselves or delude themselves into believing that somehow it’s a move for peace, it’s a great strategic move to out-manoeuvre Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny and I would think that Mr. Adams’ position within the party’s secure – you know, they’ve met the Queen, they’ve given up IRA weapons, they have supported consent, they’ve called for people to inform to the state so I don’t think it’s going to cause any problems in that sense but what it does do is it shows the problems that Sinn Féin face with Mr. Adams as its leader. He’s in a sort of quicksand which is too shallow to drown him but too deep to allow him to escape from it and it means that very bright talented people like like Eoin Ó Broin and Pearse Doherty, who perform very well in public, are having this sort of dark shadow cast over their performances because Sinn Féin continuously gets pulled into this past, this murky, sinister past, and really because the party insists on having martial politicians as the head of its leadership.
MW: Anthony, thank you very much for joining us. That’s Anthony McIntyre. (ends)
John McDonagh (JM) and Martin Galvin (MG) speak to Anthony McIntyre (AM) via telephone from Drogheda, Co. Louth about the controversy raging in Ireland over an email Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams sent to An Garda Siochána naming Sinn Féin members who may have information regarding the 1983 murder of prison officer Brian Stack. (begins time stamp ~ 30:30)
JM: And now we’re going to be getting into Irish Republicanism. And a scandal that is I don’t want to say brewing because it’s blown up. While Gerry Adams was away in Cuba, he’s there for the funeral tomorrow of Fidel Castro, an email was sent by him telling An Garda Siochána that four of his member of Sinn Féintology, as I said he runs a cult over in Ireland that actually has a branch here in New York called Friends of Sinn Féintology, and that he said four members of Sinn Féintology might have been involved in a shooting that happened back in 1983. And the four people that were mentioned in Gerry Adams’ email all have now written to the news media saying: No, we had nothing to do with it. Although we can’t name them and they won’t name them – it’s a bizarre situation. But when Anthony McIntyre did an academic study on behalf of Boston College, going out and talking to the individual about what they did in their life, he didn’t email the Gards or the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland). All these tapes were supposed to be released when that person died.
But we’re going to play a song now. It’s from the album, Irish Catholic Boy, by Seanchaí and The Unity Squad and it’s called Gypo and the song is about Gypo Nolan from a very famous movie called The Informer and Victor McLaglen was the informer. So this is a big shout out to the man down there in Havana – it’s called Gypo.
Audio: Portion of the song, Gypo, plays.
MG: Anthony, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann. We just heard a song, Gypo, that was played by Seanchaí and The Unity Squad dedicated to the famous film, The Informer, and the Victor McLaglen character. Now during the week there was an email that was released or showed that Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Féin who’s currently in Havana, had given the names of four individuals who were identified – three of them as senior Sinn Féin elected officials, one as a senior Republican – none of the names were released but that has caused a controversy. They were released as people of interest or who may have been involved or would have knowledge about a killing that occurred in 1983 of a prison officer of Portlaoise Prison named Brian Stack. Anthony, why is that raising so much controversy in Ireland?
AM: Well it’s raising controversy because Mr. Adams has given the indication that he’s in possession of information about the death of Brian Stack which Brian Stack’s son, Austin Stack, has said he did not give him. Mr. Adams says that he got these names from Austin Stack. Austin Stack has been campaigning for truth and closure, he doesn’t want prosecutions, but truth and closure regarding his father’s death. Now Mr. Adams said has said that he got the names from Austin Stack during a meeting. Austin Stack has vehemently disputed this. And the safe money in Ireland is on Mr. Stack’s account being the more genuine by far. Basically the joke here: Ten out of nine people don’t believe Mr. Adams about anything.
MG: Okay. And we should tell our listeners that Portlaoise Prison is a prison in, well it’s in Co. Laois right in The Midlands, and it is a place where Republican prisoners were and are kept – when they were arrested as part of the conflict certainly or there’s still Republican prisoners there. There have been times when the conditions there have been very difficult – there was hunger strikes there on a couple of occasions and one prison warder or prison official, Mr. Stack, was killed. The IRA was accused of it. They denied responsibility up until 2013. Now, was there any information, was there any information, Anthony, given to these individuals whose names – and again there’s all sorts of colourful descriptions and you can fill in the blanks and probably figure out who at least three if not four of them were – but is there any information that these individuals were consulted about whether their names should be passed to the Gardaí, to Irish authorities in the Twenty-Six Counties, for possible questioning or whatever other action should be taken?
AM: Well Mr. Adams has said that he consulted with three of them. He didn’t mention the fourth. There is a claim by the Irish Independent that Mr. Adams did not, the Irish Independent claims to have contacted one of the people whose name was passed to the Gardaí by Mr. Adams and The Independent claim that that individual stated that he was quite unhappy with what Mr. Adams has done. Mr. Adams himself has denied this but again it’s a question of who do we believe in these matters? And I mean Portlaoise Prison could, at times, have been a very violent place and I think Austin Stack, Mr. Stack’s son, has said that he was aware of accusations having been made by Republican prisoners against his father although Austin Stack didn’t try to legitimise or say that these allegations were true – he merely commented on them but there was a lot of resentment within the prison against Brian Stack – many, many prisoners spoke in very harsh terms about him and I mean, his killing, while not seemingly part of any wider IRA strategy against prison officers in The South, unlike IRA strategy against prison officers in The North at the time, which could be quite concerted and violent, there was no policy in The South like that but I think on this occasion the IRA decided that it would take action and it was very much responsible for this killing in Dublin.
Now, it has also created controversy because many Republicans would regard this as an act of informing. You know, if people are giving information about the IRA directly to law enforcement agencies so that people may be investigated and prosecuted they very much see that as informing. And Kenny Donaldson today, or yesterday, in the News Letter had said that Mr. Adams had broken IRA rules and he cited the Green Book. We recall Bobby Storey speaking out after Brendan Hughes’, the book on Brendan Hughes and David Ervine by Ed Moloney that was published, Voices From the Grave, and Bobby Storey would gain front page headlines in the Andersonstown News as saying: Don’t break the IRA code. So I mean, and the IRA code – I mean Brendan Hughes wasn’t breaking the IRA code although he certainly wasn’t breaking it in any serious sense by speaking and giving his memoir. The real breaking of the IRA code, the penalty for breaking the IRA code, the only – the death penalty, as Martin McGuinness often referred to it and Gerry Adams referred to it, was always handed out for informing. And I mean I can see, every way I look at this, Mr. Adams here has informed law enforcement on his colleagues in relation to IRA activity in the 1980’s and it is my view that he is trying to deflect much of the flak or responsibility by shifting responsibility for providing those names onto Austin Stack and what has, in fact, happened is Mr. Adams himself – because he was on the Army Council at the time Brian Stack was killed – Mr. Adams himself, having been on the Army Council, had probably known, after the event anyway, about the inquiry about, the discussion that must have taken place in the IRA at this time. I mean he must have known about that and it may well be that he is talking on the basis of information that he gleaned as a member of the IRA because Austin Stack says he certainly told him nothing.
MG: Alright now, I’m reading from the Irish Independent. I’m not going to ask to speculate on the names or to name any individuals, but according to the descriptions one is:
‘Politician A’: Rural-based. A veteran individual. He’s had prior convictions and he’s described as a ‘household name’ in terms of politics.
‘Politician B’: A city-based, what I assume is a Dublin-based figure, who said on two occasions he had nothing to do with it.
‘Politician C’: Highly senior Sinn Féin figure who plays a major role in devising some of the party’s key strategy.
And a fourth one is a former IRA boss who held a senior role in the organisation in The South and was highly placed in the IRA during the killing. Why would Gerry Adams give names of individuals like that, who seemingly have some Republican rank, why would he do this just prior to the election, which is when this email was sent? Why would he do it just prior to the election that occurred last February?
AM: Well one can only speculate as to why he decided to inform. I mean Gerry Adams, has never at any time – and he has been remarkably consistent on this – he has never allowed Republican principle or Republican codes to stand in the way of his political career. So one has to imagine that there was a political career motive for doing what he did and I mean exactly why he did it at that particular time I do not know but I would suspect that there was a certain amount of criticism coming his way as the result of the toing and froing that had been going on between the Stack Family and the IRA. I mean these people were put into blacked-out vans and taken to meet IRA people, or Mr. Adams described them as former IRA people. And I think there was a view that Mr. Adams was not coming completely clean or at least he felt vulnerable on it and then he opted to – and he says this himself in his own writing – that he decided not, and he didn’t do it for any good reason, but the reason he gives was that he decided that it would be better not to allow people like Micheál Martin or Taoiseach Edna Kenny to criticise him on the grounds that he was withholding information. And I don’t think that’s a genuine excuse. I think there’s something beneath the surface, something more egregious, but I’m not in the position to work it out exactly why he did this at the particular time that he did.
JM: (station identification) And what we have on from Dundalk is Anthony McIntyre, former member of the IRA who spent eighteen years in Long Kesh. Anthony, I want to talk about the reaction of you doing an academic study on behalf of Boston College and what happened to you in Belfast with the wall graffiti, the intimidation of your family, the demonstration at your house in Belfast where you had to move out – do you foresee any of that happening to Gerry Adams – demonstrations or wall murals going up about him?
AM: No, I don’t. I actually – we have been joking that they will be putting up murals ‘touting for peace’. What I can say is that when the Boston College project became pubic knowledge I mean Danny Morrison, who performed a role very similar to Denis Donaldson who your people in America have sort of a negative experience of, Danny Morrison had begun to smear, just as Denis Donaldson had often smeared people who were said to be opposed the leadership or the peace process, and Danny Morrison began a, he was the main person behind a campaign to call those associated with Boston College – he coined the phrase ‘Boston College Touts’ and he has often called me ‘Anthony McIntout’ rather than Anthony McIntyre. And there was a campaign of, I mean particularly after Mr. Adams’ arrest, there was a campaign of vilification, smearing, constant harassment, innuendo, veiled threats – the whole of the Falls Road was smeared with graffiti ‘Boston College Touts’ and myself was named, other people were named, there were briefings to the press. There was a widespread campaign on the internet which Morrison was involved in and others. I mean, Morrison, as you know was a very close ally of Gerry Adams and often did his dirty work and I mean I haven’t seen him out yet saying that they should be writing ‘peace process touts’ on the wall about Gerry Adams or anything. But so there will be a very muted response.Sinn Féin activists and supporters will try and do the usual intellectual somersault and justify it.
You know, I mean, I think continuously people sometimes look at me quizzically but I think continuously that were there to be a parade down the Falls Road with banners proclaiming Bobby Sands a criminal and bomb Gaza all the same people in Sinn Féin would go out and attend it. It would not be an empty parade. It would be packed and they would be telling you that: There’s a strategy here. You have to see the big picture. And we know it’s all nonsense and they don’t believe in anything any longer. And I am of the view that internally Mr. Adams will ride this out. Although I mean my wife pointed out to me, and I think there’s something to be said for it, that the – I mean the Gards are in possession of this email for quite a long time I mean since Mr. Adams sent it a while back. It’s only released now while he’s in Cuba and my wife made the observation that it’s quite possible that somebody in Sinn Féin released it as a means to try and cause some problems for him because of his refusal to move across or allow anybody to contest a leadership position. And I mean, if we look back over the histories of coups quite often they have occurred or attempted coups have occurred when the leader of a country was out of the country on foreign business so actually there may well be something to be said for that but will he get any flak, real serious flak openly, internally, for deciding to inform? No, I don’t think so. I think that there’s really nothing that can happen. He can do what he wants within that party. I mean the old ink, the old cartoon once, and if I’m right the late Brian Mór done it: ‘It’s my party and I’ll lie if I want to’.
MG: Anthony, this week, just following what you just suggested about somebody from Sinn Féin sending that or leaking that to the press: This week in the Irish News there was a column done by Denis Bradley who lives in Doire, is very close – has had some appointments to positions through Sinn Féin, is said to be very close to Martin McGuinness – and that column was about time for Mr. Adams to go, which is something that surprised me – you don’t see people close to Sinn Féin writing columns – that’s the largest, the Irish News, is the largest selling paper in The North, Nationalist or Unionist, they say they have the largest sales of all – and to have a column from somebody placed like that, close to people, close to Doire Sinn Féin, close to Martin McGuinness, writing a column like that it was just something that very much surprised me that I didn’t expect to see, wouldn’t expect to see and it seemed to be something with a lot of implications. What do you think?
AM: Well yes, that has been suggested but I mean I think it’s important to clarify Denis Bradley’s position. I mean Denis Bradley is, he might be close to Sinn Féin in the sense that he has relations with them but he also has relations with other political parties and Denis would put himself around a bit in order to make the type of, to establish the type of networks that he does. But ‘close to Sinn Féin’? He’s certainly not a shill of Sinn Féin or a shill of anybody in Sinn Féin and he’ll not do their dirty work or their bidding. But I think – so I don’t see it as being a plot by people in Doire and it may be suggested that Martin McGuinness – I just don’t see it as a plot by Doire people or people in Sinn Féin to get Denis to write this because I don’t believe Denis is that sort of guy. I quite like him and I believe he’s very independent in what he thinks and he just doesn’t go out and put things out at the behest of other people. But I think he’s observing the continuous flak that Mr. Adams brings to the party. The continuous bad publicity and he’s hanging on like a bad smell. And to many people it’s the smell of secret graves and decomposition and it doesn’t do the party any good. And Mr. Adams is not the sort of leader that’s really going to take Sinn Féin any further than it is at the minute. And there are some very capable Sinn Féin public representatives who do quite well on media. Pearse Doherty on economics far outshines Gerry Adams. Eoin Ó Broin in detail and media presentation has been very, very savvy – completely outshines and outperforms him.
And I am of the view that people like Denis Bradley who don’t wish Sinn Féin any harm but probably would like to see them democratise and do something useful for people because Sinn Féin have an awful lot of good workers, particularly in the Republic, or in The South, who are not – don’t buy into all the rubbish that has been sold them. And I think that Denis Bradley probably sees Adams as a brake on Sinn Féin’s serious progress in The South of Ireland and has said: Look, this is like a tinpot dictatorship. No democratic party can really function for over three decades without one leadership challenge and I mean can the party think so poorly of itself, is it so talent-less that it is incapable of producing another leader? That it thinks the only person who can lead them is a man who, by common consent, is economically illiterate and that’s an observation, not a criticism because I’m pretty dumb myself when it comes to economics but I mean at least one dummy can recognise another….
JM: …Well, Anthony, yeah – we just wanted to start wrapping up. Last week we had on Dixie Elliott from Doire and we were talking about the film that’s now here in New York called Bobby Sands: 66 Days. And we know that you did eighteen years in Long Kesh, which is now being turned into a heliport, thanks to the Unionists and Gerry Adams’ brilliant strategy, but did you see the movie and what’d you think about it?
AM: No, I didn’t see the movie. I had intended to go and for some reason or another I didn’t. I want to sit back a bit anyway now and wait until the hype has died down and stuff so I’m not able to comment on it. But Richard (O’Rawe) has watched it and Dixie Elliott has watched it and they have made some very interesting commentary on it. But at some time I will watch it and review it, John.
JM: We’ll have to have you on when you do that and we’re going to…
MG: …And Anthony, before we go we just want to tell people about your blog, The Pensive Quill. I know you cover or carry a lot of the transcripts that we have on Radio Free Éireann because they’re important not just to listeners here but to readers in Ireland. And that is the place to go to if you want to get dissenting Republican opinion – there’s a big collection, it reaches a lot of people, you allow a lot of different viewpoints and sometimes even letters from me that I’ve had in the Irish News as well as our columns and we want to recommend everybody to The Pensive Quill – in addition you advertise our broadcast.
AM: Well in that, Martin, it has to be said that the transcriber who has put together the rfe123.org transcript site has done a tremendous job, works so hard and I think the credit has to go to that person. Because without that person doing this work, and the person wishes to remain unnamed, but without that person doing this very valuable work for the rfe dot 123 or rfe dot rfe 123…
MG: …rfe123.org, yeah.
AM: Whatever the – I’m just getting confused here – it’s my old age – that person does a brilliant job in providing a service. And people really value the transcripts. The transcripts are always so well read and the reason for that is it makes life very easy – there’s no trying to decipher accents or having to labour through to get a point. And as the transcriber pointed out to me quite often for researchers and journalists copying and pasting works a treat. It’s a invaluable service and long may it continue.
JM: Alright. Thank you. And that was Anthony McIntyre speaking about the hullabaloo that’s going on while Gerry Adams is down in Cuba about him informing on four of his members of his own party.
MG: John, we were in a debate a long time ago in 1998 I think and somebody raised a question about would members of Sinn Féin ever cooperate and give names, if they were going to endorse the PSNI or RUC, would they be cooperating with the authorities and give names? And Martin Ferris, I think, told someone in the audience that that was disgraceful – that it would never happen.
JM: That was Rob O’Sullivan (the audience member). He (Martin Ferris) said: I wouldn’t dignify that with a response. (ends time stamp ~ 55:04)
John McDonagh (JM) speaks to Brendan Fay (BF) of Saint Pat’s For All about the Distinguished Service Award he will receive next week from the Irish government for his work to end discrimination against people in the LGBT community. (begins time stamp ~ 12:12)
JM: Well, anybody’s that been listening to WBAI since the ’80’s and ’90’s knows of our next guest. He’s an Irish immigrant from Drogheda, or as Americans would say, Draheeda. Back in the early ’90’s Brendan Fay was trying to march with his banner for ILGO, the Irish Gay and Lesbians, up 5th Avenue on Saint Patrick’s Day. And little did he think when he was laying down on 5th Avenue back in the early ’90’s and being carted off to prison that next week that he would be in Dublin receiving a medal from the Twenty-Six County Irish president, Michael D. Higgins. And with us on the line is Brendan. Brendan, it’s been a long journey but I can guarantee you when we interviewed you back in the early ’90’s that you never would have come on and said: You know what? From this day on, twenty or thirty years from now I’ll be receiving a medal from the Irish President.
BF: Right, I know. Hello there, John, and to all your listeners of Radio Free Éireann. Yip. Back in the late ’80’s and in ’90-’91 with ILGO and in ’93 when there were hundreds of us arrested and every year after that – so I think of the activism of ILGO, Irish Queers, Lavender and Green Alliance – when we were among those arrested on 5th Avenue, we were also arrested at the Throgg’s Neck parade in the Bronx, we were also arrested at the Saint Patrick’s Parade in Brooklyn and – but we just knew we needed to take a stand and to challenge prejudice, exclusion, discrimination in our own community. And we did what we had to do – year after year after year. The historic breakthrough was this year when finally, under our Lavender and Green Alliance Muintir Aerach na hÉireann banner, we marched on 5th Avenue. And of course, this has very much influenced – you know in 2000 when we started – and of course, John, you were there and Sandy Boyer and when we began Saint Pat’s For All…
JM: …and Grandpa Al Lewis.
BF: …and Grandpa Al Lewis. You know, we just knew – we’d been excluded from parades everywhere and we said: Let us build a parade, an Irish parade, that says who it’s for – for everyone. And to explore through our own history our relationships with other communities. And that’s what we became known as, Saint Pat’s For All. A parade that included everyone. And we did it year after year and of course over the years honoured great people in our community from Malachy McCourt, Frank McCourt, Alfie and Michael one year – we honoured and Pete Hamill and you know some amasing sort of men and women in the city you know, and Kerry Kennedy, Terry McGovern…
JM: …And people like that would never get elected now the way the situation is on 5th Avenue – you have to be the head of a corporation to get elected. But you’re getting this medal basically because of the parade that you help set up in Queens but explain to our audience…
BF: …There’s two of us going over, John, myself and Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy. I’m so thrilled to be honoured with Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy who in 2006 and 7 stepped in, saw the parade, has been Co-Chair since. She’s dedicated herself to equality in the Irish community – she and so many others. And by the way, while I’m on the air and since you mentioned his name and he’s been honoured in the Bronx earlier is Hugh O’Lunney. Hugh O’Lunney was one of the first in the Irish community to support Lavender and Green Alliance – even way before the parades when we were struggling. Hugh O’Lunney and Frank Skuse of Kinsale Tavern. So these two great Irishmen in our community supported this cause way back in the early ’90’s when few were there. They were on-board. That’s their vision of equality. Of Irishness. They knew nobody should be discriminated against or excluded and they were totally supportive.
JM: And Brendan, you’ll be flying over on behalf of the Twenty-Six County government on Aer Lingus next week. What exactly is this medal and how did you win it? Did you apply for it? How did it come about?
BF: Oh no,no, not at all – never applied. Apparently the way it’s done is we’re recommended…
JM: …But what is the award? Explain…
BF: …(crosstalk) in the Irish community consulates around the world recommend people from among the Irish diaspora from Australia, Canada, Europe, Asia and the United States, Latin America – all recommend people for this Distinguished Service Award in the Irish community, ten every year. And Kathleen and I were notified that we were to receive this great honour. To receive it, for me to return home to Ireland – to my hometown which is Drogheda. Although of course, I grew up in a tiny town in Co. Kildare, which I’m very proud of. My father was a union man in the asbestos factory where he worked. He was always somebody who spoke out, who stood up and I’ll be thinking of all of those who’ve worked to end discrimination against LGBT people. We’ve a lot more work. The work goes on. We’ll be pausing and taking a moment to receive this award and feel with great gratitude the movement that we represent when when we go and we step in Aras an Uachtarainand receive this Distinguished Award, Kathleen and I, will really be representing a great movement in the Irish community in New York City that changed history, that changed the nature of parades and continues on and of course..
JM: …Well I’m hoping to see Kathleen at the next Irish-American Writers and Artists salon, whether it’s at The Cell or up at Bar Thalia. I hope she’s wearing the medal and I want to see that medal when she comes here and I hope she’s listening now. So Kathleen, you have to bring that medal down to the next salon.
BF: Bring the medal or I don’t know if it’s a plaque or whatever. My family in Drogheda are thrilled and excited. We’re going to meet with Brian Fleming, leaders of a couple of grassroots movements in Ireland. I’ll be meeting with LGBT youth groups in Dublin, in Dundalk, in Drogheda and also with leaders of The Spectacle of Defiance and Hope and other groups. This is our heritage. This is our movement. That change is possible and that if people just stay committed, stay to the cause that change is possible, equality is possible. And now we have to make sure that we hold onto – we hold onto what we’ve achieved and continue the struggle.
JM: Alright now Brendan, we’re going to move along but I can’t wait to talk to you when you get back and tell us what the ceremony was like.
BF: Thanks very much, John. And thanks to all the listeners. And by the way, anybody who wants to – St. Pat’s For All 2017– people can register, sign up and support. It’ll be great! Go raibh míle maith agat. Thank you, John!
JM: And that’s the one and only Brendan Fay going over to Dublin next week to be honoured for all the activism he’s done here in New York City. (ends time stamp ~ 19:38)
Radio Free Éireann will broadcast this Saturday December 3rd Noon to 1PM New York time, or 5PM to 6PM Irish time. Listen on WBAI 99.5 FM or on the internet at wbai.org or anytime after the program concludes on wbai.org/archives
Author, analyst and former H-Block blanketman Anthony McIntyre will discuss the controversy surrounding Gerry Adams naming four senior Republicans, including elected Sinn Féin officials, to Irish police, or Gardaí, as being suspected of involvement of the killing of Portlaoise Prison Officer Brian Stack during the 1980s.
Brendan Fay and Kathleen Walsh Darcy, leaders of the Lavender and Green Alliance and founders of the St. Pats For All parade in Queens, will discuss being honored by the Irish government with Distinguished Service Awards for the Irish Abroad for their efforts to get LGBT inclusion in the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Producer Denise Dunphy will talk about ‘In Between Silence ‘ a spellbinding show weaving stories by noted authors like Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, Joseph O’Connor and others with music by the composer Stano showing at the Barrow Street Theatre December 3-10.
Lorcan Otway will preview a new play opening at Theatre 80 in lower Manhattan.
Go to Radio Free Eireann’s web site, rfe123.org, and read transcripts of last week’s headline-making interviews with author, civil rights campaigner and now People Before Profit elected MLA Eamonn McCann about fighting British injustice from inside Stormont and with Sperrins Mountain campaigner Martin Tracey on the fight to preserve that historic region from being exploited by a foreign gold mining company.
Follow us on Twitter. John McDonagh and Martin Galvin co- host.
Michael Reade (MR) speaks to Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams (GA) via telephone from Havana, Cuba about Fidel Castro and the controversy caused by an email he sent to the Garda Commissioner concerning Portlaoise Prison Officer Brian Stack’s death. (begins time stamp ~15:16)
MR: We’ll go to Havana now where the Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams is attending the funeral of Fidel Castro.
GA: Well I’ve been in Cuba a number of times and you know as a young man, I suppose no more than yourself, I was caught up in my imagination with the events here away back in the ’60’s when the people of Cuba fought for and got their freedom. And then as the struggle there developed – how they sought to tackle poverty, illiteracy and other social issues. So, I know there are flaws here. I actually – when I met with Fidel some time ago I raised issues of human rights and civil liberties and religious liberties and political prisoners and so on. So you know, I do the same with US presidents when I have the opportunity to talk to them and Sinn Féin’s position is very consistent in this regard. So I’m very honoured to be here to represent Sinn Féin. I won’t be here for all of the funeral ceremonies. The international dimension of this was last night and I’m sure that the good people of Louth and Meath East will be pleased that they at least were represented here. I think it was remiss of the government not to send a member of the government; I understand the ambassador from this region was here but Fidel, I think, was a good friend of Ireland. He stood by the hunger strikers of 1981, the women in Armagh, the men who died in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh and he spoke out, more so than any other Irish Taoiseach, and he also advocated for an end to partition and for the island to be united and for us to be left to shape out our own affairs.
He was an internationalist. They sent thousands of medical doctors and nurses and health workers to all parts of the world. The health system here is free. They have been subject to a cruel blockade for over fifty years but despite that they’ve kept going. Education is par excellence – it’s free also. And the population here are hugely educated and again, they have went into Latin America and Africa. And you wouldn’t have the issues that we have in Our Lady of Lourdes, at any of the hospitals here, and I’ve visited the hospitals here and structurally they’re dilapidated affairs because of the blockade – you know, all sorts of normal supplies are denied the people here but the health service itself has been very – and actually when I was MP for West Belfast we sent at least one young person suffering from cancer to Cuba to be treated. So they’re very open, very generous, very welcoming of visitors and prepared to reach out and to help other people in need.
MR: Indeed. As I understand it the Cuban healthcare system is the envy of the world or should be the envy of the world because with relatively no funding they have a model for all of us to aspire to based on the logic of prevention is better than cure and primary care centres practically on every street corner in the country. But what are people saying to you about Castro because, as I said, he’s remembered in many different ways in many different places but in Havana is he remembered as a despot, a dictator or as a social revolutionary?
GA: Well I’ll tell you what it’s like, Michael, it’s like some very elderly member of your family who’s held in affection dies – and even though you may be expecting the death there’s still a sense of sadness. Now, I’ve been here a few times and when I was at the event last night and the locals, they estimate about a million people turned out at the event last night – so even those who might disagree with Fidel respect him but the most of them, and it was very obvious last night as they showed a brief video run-through from 1959, when they stood against the old dictatorship, you know, a ragged grouping of revolutionaries, to the point through all the twists and turns through the big crises under the Kennedy administration in the ’60’s with Khrushchev right through – you know they sent an expeditionary force to Namibia, which was under threat by the racist apartheid regime of South Africa, they stood by people there. But I suppose the sense of pride that you know – people are flown in here, free of charge by the Cuban authorities – this is a poor country – free of charge to get cataract operations from Latin America. There are still teachers, doctors, nurses freely being sent to poor places in Latin America and also in Africa. I mean they would send people to us if they would be welcomed by those who run and are making a mess of our own health services. So there’s a great sense of pride. Also, no more than ourselves – like we’re a small island with a powerful neighbor who hasn’t treated us well – they’re a small island with a powerful neighbor which hasn’t treated them well and I welcome very much the rapprochement that President Obama and Raul Castro have ushered in and I hope that continues on to the new president. Obviously, our big focus is on our own cause when we’re here but it’s what’s recollecting also that Raul Castro played a key facilitating role in the Colombian peace process and Sinn Féin were first and foremost there. I spoke with the negotiators here last year. Martin McGuinness has met with the president of Colombia on a number of times. We’ve sent a range of people from Martina Anderson, Jennifer McCann, Gerry Kelly and others into Colombia to advise the FARC and to advise the Colombian government. So Cuba, in terms of peace-making in its own region, has been showing great leadership.
MR: Gerry Adams speaking to me from Havana where he’s attending the funeral of Fidel Castro. Now that’s just part of a much longer conversation that I had with the Sinn Féin president. I did spend some time talking to him about the controversy that’s been raging here at home about an email that he sent to the Garda Commissioner in relation to the shooting of Portlaoise Prison Officer Brian Stack in 1983 outside of the National Stadium on the South Circular Road in Dublin and how in that correspondence to the Garda Commissioner he named four people who he said may have information in relation to the shooting and to the subsequent death eighteen months later of Mr. Stack and how it has been claimed by Gerry Adams that those names were given to him by Brian Stack’s son, Austin Stack, and how Austin Stack is contradicting that claim and saying he never gave any names to Gerry Adams. We’ll hear the response to all of that in the second hour of the programme. (pauses time stamp ~ 23:38) (resumes time stamp ~ 42:35)
MR: On Monday the Irish Independent reported that Gerry Adams wrote to the Garda Commissioner naming four individuals who he said may have information about the killing of Brian Stack in 1983. Now this has dominated the political agenda since taking most of the time in the Dáil during leaders’ questions on Tuesday and many people asking for answers to questions predominantly relating to how Gerry Adams got these names. Gerry Adams, as you heard earlier in the programme, is in Cuba attending the funeral of Fidel Castro but he has said that he received these names from the son of the Portlaoise Prison officer, Austin Stack. Austin Stack says he didn’t give any names to Gerry Adams.
GA: I’m playing catch-up on some of this. I haven’t seen any of the news reports at first-hand. I’m, as you know, in Havana at the moment for Fidel Castro’s funeral. But from what I have picked up I have to say I’m very disappointed. I went out to try and help the Stack Family at the time. They did suffer a grievous injustice. I did my best and they thanked me for my endeavours at the time. In the course of my discussions – and I met Austin Stack quite a few times, both on his own and with his brother, Oliver – and in the course of those discussions he told me that he had been given some names of people who may be able to help, who may have been involved. He had no independent information to support this and he said he would like to meet with these people. So in the course of my endeavours to help the family I contacted, I couldn’t contact all of the people, but I contacted three of them and they denied having anything to do with the shooting of Brian Stack, Austin’s father, and they declined to speak to him at that time. Now you will recall that it was a matter, this was during the election campaign, a matter of some public controversy at that time.
Also in the course of all of that a former senior IRA Volunteer who had carried out an investigation into all of this met with the Stack brothers, apologised for the shooting of their father, said it had not been authorised by the IRA leadership at that time. I explained how difficult it was to get all of this necessary information because by that stage the IRA had left the field and was no longer intact and people had gone their own ways and some people had died and so on and so forth but he acknowledged that a senior IRA person had authorised the shooting, apologised for that and said that that person had been subsequently disciplined and he put on record his regrets and all of that became a matter of public news in and around the time. Now, I also, in the course of – now I’m not too sure of the sequence – I don’t have my notes with me – sent the names which Austin Stack had given me to the Garda Commissioner. I don’t know how that email has got into the public media, and indeed, are there any questions being asked about that at this time? I understand that Micheál Martin, in his usual opportunistic way, made some remarks about this in the Dáil. So that’s that, at this distance, a very brief account of what occurred. It is a matter of regret for me that this unfortunate man was shot and his family have suffered as they have and I said that then and I’m saying it again now. It’s also a matter of disappointment that these matters have taken the twist that they have taken.
MR: But you can confirm to us that you did write by email to the Garda Commissioner naming four individuals who may have information that may help with the investigation into the murder of Brian Stack?
GA: Yes. I felt I was obliged to give this information – I have no way of verifying it and I certainly have no additional or other information but I thought…
MR: …And can you tell us, Mr. Adams, can you tell us when those names were first made known to you?
GA: In the course of discussions with Austin Stack, and I’m not sure exactly the sequence or the time frame, and as I said I don’t have me notes with me now, but in the course of those discussions – now in fairness to Austin Stack he was looking to meet with these folks and he wasn’t making any – neither could he – make any definitive or claims other than that he had been told by Garda sources and by some journalists that these people may be able to help with his inquiries.
MR: Okay, but tell us: You wrote to the Garda Commissioner in February, just before the election, and there are suggestions that you had this information in 2013.
GA: No, I didn’t have any information at all on this particular case until I met with the Stack brothers and then subsequently, and it was some time afterwards – this took quite a long time to get any sort of an explanation from Republican sources, so my first information – this was from the Stack Family themselves – and then my second, more clear position, when I facilitated the meeting between the Stack brothers and the person who had previously been in a senior position in the IRA.
MR: Micheál Martin wanted to know why you would have felt confident to pass on the names of suspects in the case. Is he correct? Were these people suspects? Or are they suspects?
GA: Well I don’t know. Why wouldn’t I pass the names on? It seems to me quite ridiculous if I hadn’t had pass the names on then Micheál Martin would have something to crib about. The fact is it isn’t for me to judge. These people clearly have their rights and have, as I’ve said, denied that (inaudible) denied any involvement in this and for that reason I have no independent reason to doubt what they are saying so I don’t know where Micheál Martin is coming from except that this is another opportunity for him to have a go at Sinn Féin and me in particular. As I said, if I hadn’t passed the information onto the Garda then he would have something to complain about.
MR: Because two of them are said to be sitting TDs and the question is: Were election candidates who were also murder suspects permissible as candidates in the eyes of the Sinn Féin leadership?
GA: Well we don’t know if they are murder suspects at all, at all. What we do know is that Austin Stack wanted to talk to some of those people to see if they could help – that was his request to me. If you go back to, and again I’m saying this from recollection without notes, but if you go back to the first engagement with Austin Stack what he wanted was closure, as much information as possible and that there had been various rumours about who had been responsible from gangsters, criminal elements, some talk about INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) elements and also some talk that the IRA had been involved and the family didn’t know so at least they got the truth of the matter which was: Yes. Republicans shot their father. No. It was not authorised by the IRA leadership at that time but yes, a senior IRA person had taken that decision and that he was disciplined.
MR: You said, Mr. Adams, that you spoke to three of the four people you named in this email. The Irish Independent says two of them are TDs, they’ve seen the email and it says that one of the TDs claims that you didn’t consult with him before sending that email. Is that correct?
GA: No, that’s not correct.
MR: Can you tell us if the TDs who you named in that email were members of the IRA at any stage?
GA: Well first of all I’m not making any comment at all on the names of the people involved. That’s not my business to point the finger…(crosstalk) (inaudible)
MR: …But there’s a lot of speculation as to who was involved since this news broke and, obviously, that would shorten the list.
GA: Well, that may be but that’s up to the Gardaí. That’s not up to me, or Micheál Martin for that matter, or anyone else. That’s up to the Gardaí
MR: Did you consult with anybody else before sending the email?
GA: I don’t understand the question.
MR: Did anybody else see the email or was anybody else aware of the contents of the email before you wrote to the Garda Commissioner?
GA: It was sent from my office so I presume whoever typed it may have, well obviously, knew what was in it but you know – those whose names I was passing onto the Gardaí were notified of that – those I had contact with. Remember, I didn’t have contact with all those people.
MR: Have you any suspicion as to how this email ended up in the sight of the Irish Independent?
GA: Michael, I work quite closely with An Garda Siochána. I have passed information on to them over the years about criminal activity along the border. I have given them the names of those who have been suspected of being involved. I’ve given them other information – that’s my duty as both a citizen and as a public servant. I’ve had to make formal complaints because some of that information at different times was leaked, in my view quite maliciously, to sections of the media who would be very hostile to the Sinn Féin endeavour. I continue to work with the Garda, particularly in Dundalk and in North Louth, I have a number of issues that I have brought to their attention about other cases which I’ve also asked G-Soc to inquire into so – that’s my responsibility, that’s my duty, that’s my obligation and I will continue as best I can to do that.
MR: Will you ask for this to be investigated? I mean it seems quite plausible to think that the Commissioner or somebody working for the Commissioner leaked this to the media.
GA: Well, I wouldn’t think the Commissioner did but look – there are difficulties here as there are in different parts of Ireland with internet and other media -so I’m playing very much catch-up. I haven’t seen any of the items that you have talked about, any of the news items or the other pieces of (inaudible). I’m reliant upon just verbal briefings from my own office and while I’m sure that’s accurate I will wait until I get back. But it is a matter of concern that an email which was sent by me should end up with a section of the media. There is an ongoing investigation and at the very, very least one would suppose that that could be prejudiced by the type of reckless public commentary there has been on this by some opponents of Sinn Féin.
MR: Undoubtedly lots of people will be listening to your comments here to us today, Gerry Adams, including Austin Stack, who said he didn’t give you these names. You say he did. Can you explain the contradictory statements?
GA: No, I can’t. I have a very clear recollection. As I’ve said I’m disappointed that Austin is taking up the position that he has taken up but I’m very, very clear in my recollection of all of this.
MR: Sinn Féin TD for Louth, Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin president, speaking to me from Havana yesterday afternoon. (ends time stamp ~ 57:20)