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Garda Commissioner apologises over handling of Brian Stack murder investigation

The family of murdered Brian Stack met with Drew Harris at Garda HQ this morning.

Brian Stack's family attend meeting with then Taoiseach Enda Kenny in 2017.
Brian Stack's family attend meeting with then Taoiseach Enda Kenny in 2017.
Image: SAM BOAL

Updated Jul 10th 2019, 10:59 AM

GARDA COMMISSIONER DREW Harris has apologised to the family of Brian Stack, who was killed by the IRA more than 30 years ago, over how officers handled the initial murder investigation.

Stack, who was the chief officer at Portlaoise prison, was shot in March 1983 and died in hospital 18 months later, in September 1984.

Over three decades later his family are still seeking answers over alleged discrepancies in the Garda investigation carried out into the circumstances surrounding his death.

A statement from the Garda Commissioner read: “Along with senior detectives, I met with the Stack family this morning to provide them with a briefing on the ongoing investigation into the murder of Mr Brian Stack.

“I offered the Stack family an apology for the failings and shortcomings in the investigation. I fully acknowledge that these matters are serious and had a detrimental impact on the investigation.

“This investigation remains open and An Garda Síochána would appeal for anyone with information in relation to the murder of Mr Brian Stack to come forward.”

Austin said questions on how material evidence went missing, and how information passed to Gardaí was not followed up, remain unanswered.

“The family will again be seeking answers as to how key material evidence and fingerprints have gone missing, why eye witnesses and other witnesses were not interviewed,” he said. 

It comes after Harris received a final report from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation which reportedly identified errors in the original investigation.

Asked today if he expected there to be prosecutions following the meeting with the Harris, Stack said:

“There is a file gone to the DPP but the Gardaí are saying they aren’t making any recommendations and they don’t hold out that the DPP will recommend charges, but they are not making any recommendations themselves but the file is gone to the DPP.”

Stack said the commissioner was unable to account for the errors made in previous investigations into his father’s murder.

“Some of the real errors, the exhibits, real tangible exhibits are missing,” he said.,
“The commissioner was not able to explain that. Eye witness accounts, people that should have been interviewed and weren’t interviewed, again, he wasn’t able to explain.”

Stack said information was not acted upon by Gardaí and claims there were other major failures.

Stack added: “He did apologise for the fact those exhibits have gone missing, that people who should have been interviewed at the time weren’t interviewed at the time.

“And then the more recent, critical error was that critical intelligence that was supplied to An Garda Síochana in 1990 wasn’t made available to either the serious crime review team or the more recent NBCI investigation.”

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams facilitated a 2013 meeting between Austin and Oliver Stack, and a man who gave the brothers information about the 1983 murder of their father.

The brothers were taken to the meeting with the former IRA leader in a blacked-out van and Adams has said that the meeting was arranged on the basis of confidentiality.

With reporting by Garreth MacNamee

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