Varadkar: Devine offence comparable with McElduff Kingsmill insult

Taoiseach notes ‘inconsistency’ that ex-MP felt obliged to resign while Senator sidelined

Brian Stack who was chief prison officer at Portlaoise Prison was shot in Dublin in 1983.

Brian Stack who was chief prison officer at Portlaoise Prison was shot in Dublin in 1983.


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that Senator Máire Devine’s offensive retweet referring to the late Brian Stack is as insulting as former MP for West Tyronne Barry McElduff’s insensitive Kingsmill video.

Mr Varadkar said that not only did the suspended Sinn Féin Senator disrespect the memory of the late prison officer, “she also didn’t take it back and continued to engage in that”.

The Taoiseach added that there was a “real inconsistency that someone in the North has to resign their seat and another person only gets three months’ suspension”.

Sinn Féin suspended Senator Devine for three months after she retweeted a post by the anonymous @rnerrionstreet Twitter account referring to Brian Stack as a “sadist prison officer”.

Mr Stack, a senior officer in Portlaoise prison, was shot in Dublin in 1983 by a member of the IRA. He died 18 months later.

In comparison, Barry McElduff resigned as an MP in January after posting a video of himself with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head.

It happened to coincide with the anniversary of the 1976 Kingsmill massacre when 10 Protestant workmen were murdered by the IRA.

‘No shame’

Brian Stack’s son, Austin Stack, said Ms Devine’s behaviour falls below the standard expected of people in elected office.

Sinn Féin moved quite cynically “to get the issue off the table”, he told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show.

He noted that Sinn Féin TD Peadar Toibín had been suspended for six months for voting with his conscience. And he thought the three-month suspension of Senator Devine was too little in comparison.

“Senator Devine brought the Oireachtas in disrepute,” said Mr Stack.

He said he had been made aware of the tweet from the parody account and subsequently saw that Senator Devine had retweeted it.

“I asked her if she had no shame and she said she didn’t.”

Mr Stack said there was “a sense of arrogance” in her response to him about raising the issue, saying he was being sensitive.

There had not been an apology directly from her, he said. The apology had come from the Sinn Féin press office.

Mr Stack also claimed that another Sinn Féin representative in Stillorgan had also retweeted the parody account and no action had been taken against her.

“The wider issue here is that there have to be standards.”