Son of murdered prison officer feels measure of closure after IRA admits killing

Stack has meeting with senior IRA leader and Adams

Thirty years after his prison officer father was shot by the IRA outside a boxing competition, Austin Stack yesterday reported a measure of closure as the paramilitaries admitted the killing.

He was 14 at the time of the attack, his brother Kieran was 13 and his other brother Oliver was 12.

Their father, Brian Stack, died 18 months later, having emerged from a coma with severe brain damage and paralysed from the neck down.

He spent more than a year at the National Rehabilitation Institute in Dún Laoghaire and went home only near the end of his life.


“As we grew up, 1983 was a very tough time for all of us,” Austin Stack told reporters.

“As a 14 year old, you’re shaving your father and he starts to cry. Those sort of things will remain with us for a long, long time.”

Mr Stack told of a two-hour meeting last week with a former senior IRA leader and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

The meeting was in a bungalow but he does not know where, having been taken there with Oliver in a blacked-out van from a meeting place off the motorway near Dundalk.

IRA statement
There they were given an IRA statement, written on an old-style typewriter, in which it admitted the role of its members. They had to transcribe it by hand themselves.

Brian Stack should not have been killed, the IRA said.

The IRA leader expressed regret but did not say sorry.

Despite decades of denial, Mr Stack said he always knew the IRA was responsible. Only it had the motive, the operational capacity and the power of secrecy. Austin Stack believes he knows who shot his father and wants to meet him.

“I would explain . . . like I did with Gerry Adams, how this had an effect on our family, it had an effect on us. I would ask him why he did it.

“I would ask him how he feels now, 30 years later. Does he have a conscience? Does he sleep well at night?

“Those are the sort of question. I would sit down and actually have an open, frank discussion with him.”

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times