Wednesday, December 14, 2016

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If You Don't Know You Can't Tell

Courtesy of The Transcripts Richard Crowley (RC) speaks to Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams (GA) about the fallout from the controversy over a leaked email and a senior IRA person in connection with the killing of prison officer Brian Stack in 1983.

This Week
RTÉ Radio One
11 December 2016

RC: First the fallout from the controversy over the killing by the IRA of prison officer Brian Stack in Dublin more than thirty years ago. The issue is back in the news over the leaking of an email sent by the Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, to the Garda Commissioner earlier this year in which he included the names of four people, some said to be senior members of Sinn Féin, to whom the Gardaí should speak. But now the Stack Family, and others, want the Sinn Féin leader to reveal the name of the senior IRA man who met the Stack brothers in 2013 and who issued a statement on that occasion admitting that the IRA carried out the shooting, that it was unauthorised and that the person who ordered the shooting had been ‘disciplined’. Gerry Adams joins us from our Belfast studio. Good Afternoon.

GA: Good Afternoon, Colm.

RC: You made it very clear in your interview with Audrey Carville on Friday’s Morning Ireland that you don’t intend to reveal to the Gardaí the name of the IRA man that you took the Stack brothers to see. Have you spoken to this man since these latest developments?

GA: No, I haven’t but let me contextualise this if I may this for your listeners: First of all let me say once again that Brian Stack should never have been killed. It was wrong. Second of all there have been three phases to this controversy. In the first instance when the Stack Family came to me and Austin and I put together a process and we concluded that process and Austin thanked me for that and I went on about my own work. Micheál Martin said nothing. Enda Kenny said nothing. And then three years later along comes the general election and in order to use this issue to damage Sinn Féin it was resurrected again…

RC: …Alright, well…

GA: …Sorry, I just want to finish my point…

RC: …I know but in fairness, in fairness…

GA: ….No. Let me finish my point, please…

RC: …I know but in fairness…

GA:
…Please let me finish my point…

RC:
…Could you please answer, could you please answer some questions before…

GA: …When you resist…

RC: …you go back into what we’ve heard much about in the last number of days.

GA: No. You have not interviewed me before. Let me finish my point. I could have finished it by now if you hadn’t interrupted me.

RC: Go ahead.

GA: The third time it came up – because the election ended, the issue abated. The third time it came up was when Micheál Martin again went into the chamber in Leinster House, two weeks in a trot, and raised this issue once again. It had no place in the Dáil chamber but what we’ve seen since actively undermines the Dáil, Micheál Martin does this as does the Taoiseach, undermines the integrity of their office and undermines agreements which they are party to.

RC: Okay now, should you not talk to this IRA man, this man that you took the Stack brothers to meet? Should you not talk to him to see whether he’s willing to talk to Gardaí – to waive this confidentiality agreement that you had with him such as it is.

GA: Well don’t say: ‘such as it is’. In the absence of any formal truth recovery process we put together a process. I gave commitments to the Stack Family which I kept to. I gave a commitment to the person who I brought them to meet which I intend to keep to as well. And if I could say furthermore…

RC: …No, could you answer the question, please. Should you not talk to him now to see whether he’s willing to talk to Gardaí?

GA: Well that’s a matter entirely for him. I don’t…

RC: …No, no, no. It’s a matter for you to put it to him…

GA: …Colm, please don’t go off on a tangent…

RC: …And I’m sorry, it’s Richard.

GA: Sorry, Richard.

RC:
But perhaps you should talk to him to see if he’s prepared to talk to Gardaí. Why would you not do that?

GA: Because I gave my word and I don’t intend – and it isn’t about me protecting anyone by the way – it’s about the integrity and the possibility of getting truth, in getting closure for all of those many families who are looking for it.

RC: And this is a way to do that? You have said in the recent past that anybody who knows anything should come forward and that clearly has to include this individual. The question to you is: Why don’t you talk to him about volunteering to come forward and to talk to the Gardaí about what he knows?

GA: Because I gave my word to the family and to him and indeed the family, when we met with him, the two brothers, reassured him that there would be no repercussions in any of this…

RC: …I’m not asking you to reveal his name. I’m asking you…

GA: …I’m sorry I have answered the question…

RC: …No, you haven’t.

GA: Yes, Richard, I have.

RC: No. Why wouldn’t you ask him?

GA: I have no intention of revisiting this part of that issue. Let me tell you something else…

RC: …You don’t want to ask him to do that. Okay. Let’s leave that one there then.

GA: Okay.

RC: Why did you wait two years to give the names to the Gardaí?

GA: Because I was accused at that time, which I had not been accused of before, of withholding information from the Gardaí. I was not accused of that previously.

RC: Which is true. You were withholding the information from the Gardaí, weren’t you?

GA: The information that I have is limited to what I was told by Austin Stack. I have no information whatsoever about who killed, who shot, who was part of the murder of Brian Stack and I made it clear in my email to the Gardai. And incidentally, I have since written to An Garda Siochána about once again information which I have given them ending up with…

RC: …Sure. But doesn’t it…

GA: …Sorry, please let me finish my point, Richard. ….ending up with an Irish Independent journalist. And apparently some journalists went round asking TDs to raise these issues in the chamber again the subverting the process in there. So what we need to do is this and I would like, if I possibly can, to make this point before the end of this interview…

RC: …It would be great if you can answer a couple of questions first and here’s one: Austin Stack gave you those names in 2013. You did not pass them onto the Gardaí until 2016. Why the delay?

GA: Because he said he got the names from the Guards and from journalistic sources and he said that the Guards knew of these names. Now I only, I was very clear in the course of the election campaign, gave the email to the Garda Commissioner in order to get rid of any ambiguity about the accusation made by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael spokespersons that I was withholding information. I never withheld any information whatsoever.

RC: But, did Austin Stack not give you the names in 2013 on the understanding that they would be passed onto the Gardaí?

GA: No, he didn’t. He gave me them in order to try and talk to those people. That’s what he did.

RC: And it looks, though, as if you simply did it at the last minute, three days before the general election, because you were under pressure from Fianna Fáil and you were trying to protect yourself politically. If the names were valid in 2016 they were surely valid in 2013.

GA: Richard, you’re not listening to what I’m saying. I gave the names given to me by Austin Stack for precisely the reason which I outlined and which you have just repeated – that I was being accused of withholding information and I was not withholding information.

RC:
Alright.

GA: The Gardaí, according to Austin Stack, had these names – he had given them to them. Now I just want to come to one point to put this in a more general context: The Stormont House Agreement was signed-off in 2014. And this is trying to deal, this part of the agreement, is trying to deal with this vexed issue of so-called legacy issues. And that put in place an international agreement – it was drafted, it was agreed and it was led at the Oireachtas in Westminster just in January of 2016. Now it hasn’t been worked on yet because the British continue to exercise a National Security veto but this includes a commission and an information retrieval process and what’s at the heart of it? That the information would be confidential, would be anonymous and would not be admissible as evidence of any legal proceeding. Our government signed up for that. The leader of Fianna Fáil signed up for that. They’ve just torn it up by the ridiculous play-acting, the ridiculous way they have used this dreadful murder to try and get me and at Sinn Féin.

RC: Now, The Stacks say that you’re withholding information from a murder inquiry. Your defence is that you gave your word to a man who is a member of the illegal organisation which carried out the murder of their father. Now no detective would accept that. No judge would deem that permissible. You’re withholding information from a murder inquiry and no…

GA: …What information am I withholding?

RC: The information about the man’s name. The man you took The Stacks to meet.

GA: Okay. You’re a journalist. Do you protect your sources?

RC: Yes, I do.

GA: Okay. The person who broke this story for The Independent refused to give the sources. Mattie McGrath, who says that he was lobbied by a journalist who named these names, says he won’t name the sources. The guy who behaved, I think, with the connivance of his own leadership, the Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell, says he won’t reveal his sources. I’m about the more serious business of trying to make peace so I will protect my sources the same as they do.

RC: Sure. Right. But you have the name of somebody who’s a member of the illegal organisation which carried out that murder and you believe that that agreement between you and him has a standing that in some way nullifies any investigation to be carried out by any detective by any police force, do you?

GA:
I’m prepared to cooperate with An Gardaí and I’ve been in touch with An Garda with that regard but this wasn’t just an agreement between me and one individual – this was myself and Austin Stack and I think Austin has acknowledged that we had a…

RC: …He doesn’t have a problem with you naming this man.

GA: Sorry, well I read in the papers this morning, if I read it properly, that he actually has named this person and there’s a person’s name that’s in the media and again The Independent newspaper…

RC: …And this person has denied it. But again, this goes back to the first question. Why not give this person an opportunity to say what they know or don’t know about this?

GA: …Well I’ve answered that question. Would you come back to the more important issue, which, I noticed in the Marian Finucane programme this morning, despite the usual begrudgery from some, that we were starting to get into a more sober conversation about how we plot a course forward for dealing with all of the issues affecting all of the victims…

RC: …When did you…

GA: …Sorry, sorry, sorry, Richard. Let me finish…

RC: …Alright, but…

GA: …I have just cited to you an agreement which is an international agreement…

RC: …Yes…

GA: …which is in the Oireachtas which is in the British House of Commons which took a huge amount of work to put in place and which our government is now in breach of. Now is that not something that we’d want to discuss?

RC:
It certainly is and it’s certainly one that we’d be most keen to discuss with government officials…

GA: …Well discuss it with me as well because I was part of that agreement!

RC: Certainly. And you’ve had your say on it now and as soon as we get the Justice Minister or the Taoiseach in here we’ll ask them about it. When did you find out that the IRA had killed Brian Stack?

GA: Shortly before the meeting.

RC: Not ’til then?

GA: No.

RC: And back in ’83 and ’84 when Mr. Stack was shot and subsequently died, clearly the killing of a prison officer in Dublin was a major event and under the IRA rule book this was a breach of your own rules. Surely you knew about it and knew that it was unauthorised at that time?

GA:
Well first of all they aren’t my rules. Second of all, because they were against the rules I didn’t think for a moment that there was any Republicans involved. And if you go back and listen to what Austin Stack said to me at the time that the family wanted to know: Was the IRA involved? They suspected the IRA may be involved. They also suspected it might have been the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army). There’s was some talk about criminal elements being involved. They actually told me, which I can understand, that that was causing an awful lot of angst for them.

RC: Would you like to see the people behind the killing of Brian Stack being brought to justice in a court in the Republic?

GA: I want to see everybody cooperating with An Garda Siochána. I accept again, as part of the Stormont House Agreement, and you would be advised to maybe inform your listeners about that, there is, as part of the number of processes for dealing with the past that includes, for those who want it, judicial processes, police investigations, coroner’s courts, historical investigations. We have…

RC: …But this was an unauthorised killing by somebody within the IRA for which they were sanctioned. Is that covered then by that agreement?

GA: You’re missing my point, Richard…

RC: …But then you’re saying…

GA: …We have signed up for a process which includes the right of those victims’ families who want it through court proceedings. We have signed up for it. How did you miss that, Richard?

RC: So you would like to see the people behind the killing of Brian Stack brought to justice in a court in The Republic, would you?

GA: I want to see all, all of the families, including the Stack Family, getting the type of closure they want, whether that means through courts, whether that means through truth recovery, whether that means acknowledgment or whether that means they just have the peace to get on with their lives.

RC: What was the sanction imposed on this individual who carried out this or who ordered this unauthorised killing?

GA: I don’t know.

RC: Have you made attempts to find out?

GA: No, I haven’t.

RC: Why not?

GA: Why would I? I’m not an investigative agency. I…

RC: …Is it not relevant?

GA:
It may well be but I’m not an investigative agency. I have learned over the years that if you don’t know you can’t tell. So I can tell you my focus was in getting this family what they asked for: Acknowledgment if the IRA was involved – an explanation of that.

RC: So if the Stack Family asked you what was the sanction, or if you could find out what the sanction was, in that instance you’d find out? But if they don’t ask you don’t ask. Is that how it works?

GA: By the way, see as far as I’m concerned on this case I delivered on this case. In 2013 we came to a conclusion on the process that I was involved in. I did my very best. I’m disappointed about the way that it has turned out. It’s clearly being used by the Fianna Fáil leader and by the Taoiseach and by others.

RC: You’ve made that point.

GA: Sorry, no I want to…

RC: …You made that point.

GA: …I want to make it again…

RC: …But you’ve made that point.

GA: So as far as I’m concerned, my involvement, I will go and talk to An Garda Siochána. I will…

RC:
…But you won’t continue…

GA:
I will continue to help to work with other families but as far as I’m concerned I have done my best. The Stack Family, contrary of their position in 2013, are accusing me of things of which I am not guilty.

RC: Final quick question for you: Will the whole furore over this case prompt you to decline any further requests to help people looking for information about dead or missing family or relatives? And we know that there should be a proper process put in place but in the interim will you continue to operate this Ad Hoc process that you’ve been involved in for the last number of years of helping relatives looking for information?

GA: I don’t know. I think it’s unlikely but I don’t know because when someone comes to you and they tell you their sad story, as one of that generation of Republicans who have survived the conflict, I do feel the duty to try and bring as much comfort, as much closure, as much truth as is possible but when it’s all reduced and subverted, as this has been by others who are trying to make party political capital out of it, then I think that subverts what those of us who actually work at this thing every single day of our lives – it makes it very difficult for us to do it. And I want to come back to the point once again if I may: It isn’t that there should be processes in place – there are processes in place.

RC: But they’re not operating is the point.

GA:
Because the British government will not act on it and because our government will not act on it and because our government, by the way they’ve handled this case, have actively subverted an international agreement which they were privy and party to.

RC: Alright…

GA: …They should be upholding the rights of others…

RC: …Okay, you’ve made that point. We have to leave it there…

GA: …and they should stop making…

RC: …We have to cut across you, Gerry, you’ve got…

GA: …party political (inaudible)…

RC: Okay. You’ve made that point. Thank you very much indeed for talking to us, Gerry Adams.

1 comments :

Steve R said...

Verbal gymnastics by Mr Charisma. It would be funny if we were not talking about the murder of a man.