Brian Stack: Committee to audit complaints over Alan Farrell

Fine Gael TD told Dáil two Sinn Féin TDs had details on 1983 murder of prison officer

Complaints about Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell breaching parliamentary privilege when he made allegations about two Sinn Féin TDs are to be considered by a Dáil standards committee on Wednesday.

Mr Farrell last week stood up in the Dáil and claimed Dublin North-West TD Dessie Ellis and Kerry TD Martin Ferris had information about the 1983 murder of prison officer Brian Stack by the IRA.

The Committee on Procedure and Privileges will today consider if Mr Farrell’s intervention breached the rules of the House.

Mr Ellis and Mr Ferris submitted a letter of complaint to the committee, chaired by Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, late on Tuesday night. Both men deny having any information about the death.


The two deputies believe Mr Farrell abused privilege by linking them to the murder of Mr Stack. They have also taken issue with the Ceann Comhairle’s decision to give Mr Farrell the opportunity to raise the matter in the Dáil chamber.

Mr Ellis and Mr Ferris are also critical of Mr Ó Fearghaíl for not asking Mr Farrell to retract his comments in the immediate aftermath. They believe the Fine Gael TD contradicted a series of standing orders and will ask the Committee on Procedure and Privileges to consider how to proceed.

Personal explanation

If the committee finds Mr Farrell has abused his privilege, he will be required to make a personal explanation to the House and be asked to withdraw without qualification the comments.

If he refuses to do so, the Ceann Comhairle will be in a position to “reprimand the member in his or her place”.

The Irish Times understands the committee is seeking to discuss whether further sanctions can be put in place for TDs who abuse their privilege.

It is understood a number of the options being examined include financial penalties and ensuring TDs are suspended from the House for a number of days.

This controversy arose after Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was given speaking time to address issues related to Mr Stack's murder.

Mr Farrell made his comments on the floor of the House immediately after Mr Adams's statement. The Fine Gael TD said Mr Adams failed to answer some outstanding questions.

Mr Farrell said he wanted the matter to receive “a proper airing” and that the reason for his move was due to “frustration at the lack of usage of the opportunity to clarify matters, but also to disassociate the politics of this”.