Seamus Mallon The Pat Kenny Show Newstalk 9 December 2016

The Pat Kenny Show
Newstalk 106-108FM
9 December 2016

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.

SM:  Thank you. (ends)