a SON of a murdered Portlaoise prison officer Brian Stack has requested a meeting with Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams in efforts to find closure on the death of his father.
Thirty years last Monday, March 25 the Chief Prison Officer of Portlaoise Prison was shot by a motorbike pillion passenger, as he walked out of the National Boxing Stadium on Dublin’s Washington street.
He survived for eighteen months, the first three in a coma, paralysed from the neck down, with brain damage. He spent the last few months at home with his family before eventually passing away in September 1984.
He left behind wife Sheila, and three sons, Austin aged 14, Ciarán aged 13 and Oliver aged 12.
Austin, now Assistant Governer at Wheatfield Prison, is leading the campaign to find answers to the killing, and recalls the traumatic time.
“It was dreadfully difficult on all of us. When something like that hits you, you don’t know which end is up,” he said.
Nobody admitted to the killing at the time, but the IRA were suspected, and Austin is convinced that the suspicion is correct.
“They had the motive and the ability. The security in Portlaoise was quite high at the time. The IRA were trying to escape, and to bring in weapons and semtex. My dad was good at his job, he was responsible for security and thwarted them,” he said.
There was meticulous planning behind the shooting.
“The bike was stolen and hidden for a month beforehand. It was dumped and the riders were met by another group and driven away.
“Word has never leaked out, so it was a tightly knit organisation. We are still looking for answers. We would like for people to take responsibility for their actions,” he said.
He is calling on Gerry Adams to meet them and admit what he believes to be the IRA’s responsibility for the killing.
“Brian Stanley TD made a statement that the IRA hadn’t done it. I have asked him how he knows that, and if he knows anything he should go to the Gardaí, as a public representative he has a duty to do that,” he said.
Gerry Adams recently apologised in the Dáil to “the families of members of the State forces who were killed by republicans in the course of the conflict”, but for the Stack family that isn’t any consolation.
“We are looking for them to accept responsibility so that is not really helpful to us. They haven’t admitted they did it,” he said.
This May the Prison Service will formally rename the Orison Service Training Centre in Portlaoise as the ‘Brian Stack House’ and unveil a new Gold Merit Medal for the Prison Service to be named the ‘Brian Stack Medal’, in a ceremony with Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter.