Bertie Ahern: understands Adams refusal to name IRA official

‘Implications from breaching some of the things from the past’, says former taoiseach

Following a personal statement made by Gerry Adams in the Dáil regarding the murder of prison officer Brian Stack, Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell names two Sinn Féin TDs alleged to have withheld information about the killing. Video: Oireachtas TV


Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he can understand Gerry Adams’s refusal to give to the Garda the name of a senior IRA official alleged to have information about the murder of a prison guard in 1983.

Mr Adams has been strongly criticised by the family of Brian Stack for failing to name a person who knows who was responsible for the killing. Two of Mr Stack’s sons met the man in 2013.

Mr Ahern yesterday said Mr Adams, a TD and the president of Sinn Féin, had co-operated with the Garda on numerous occasions in the past. The former taoiseach said Mr Adams will always assist if he can.

“There are implications always from breaching some of the things from the past,” Mr Ahern said. “I warned about this 16 or 17 years ago when I argued that we should have a peace and truth commission. I floated that one, but the kite fell flat. There was no takers.”

Mr Ahern said he also understands the predicament of the Stack family. One of Mr Stack’s sons, Austin, confronted Mr Adams at a Sinn Féin press conference in Dublin last week, urging him to tell the truth about the matter.

“Putting the circumstances of today into the circumstances of 30 years ago or in the Troubles is more complex than people try to understand,” Mr Ahern said.

Hard to explain

The former taoiseach, who was, along with Mr Adams, among the main negotiators involved in talks that lead to the 1998 Belfast Agreement, said it was hard to explain the circumstances of then in the context of today.

He recalled meeting the families of the victims of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings and having to explain that the case had been closed in three months. He said if that happened now there would be outrage.

“That was the biggest single terrorist incident that took place in the whole Troubles in the South, equal to Omagh in the North,” Mr Ahern said. “The file was closed after three months.

“Trying to live the circumstances of now with what happened in the Troubles is probably not a good idea.”