NewsInvestigations

Former IRA commander suspected of being at Stack meeting

InvestigationsBy Eamon Dillon
Seanna Walsh
Seanna Walsh

THIS is the top former IRA commander who the Stack brothers believed they were taken to meet at a safe house on the border in a blacked-out van by Gerry Adams.

Provo chief Seanna Walsh is best known to the public as the man who read out a statement from the IRA Army Council announcing the end to its armed campaign in 2005.

But today, the Sunday World sources reveal that Walsh is the shadowy IRA officer whom the Stack brothers believe they met and who admitted the organisation killed their prison officer father, Brian.

The meeting – which happened in a safe house in the border region – had been set up by Gerry Adams, who is now locked in a political crisis over the affair.

Austin and Oliver Stack were driven to a meeting in a blacked-out van with Adams in 2013. The brothers were told details of their father’s murder by the IRA while the Sinn Fein chief listened.

They said they were “99 per cent” sure of the identity of the senior Provo they met. 

Yesterday Walsh, now a member of Belfast City Council, denied he was the man who met the Stack brothers in a statement issued by his solicitor.

“I refer to the allegation made by ‘sources’ that our client met with them in 2013 in relation to the death of their father.

“Please be advised that my client categorically refutes any such allegation. My client has never met either of the Stack brothers in relation to their father’s death.”
Walsh himself earlier told the Sunday World he had “no comment”, adding, “I was in Long Kesh in 1983”.

Pressure is now mounting on Adams to name the senior Provo who met the brothers and to pass the information to the gardaí.  The Sinn Fein leader knows the truth about the meeting but is refusing to name names.

Another senior Sinn Fein figure named in Adams’ email to the garda commissioner as one of four people with information surrounding the Stack murder, also denied any knowledge. 

The Sunday World has learned ‘Pat Doherty’ was another of those named in the email.

But last night in a statement to the Sunday World, Sinn Fein MP for west Tyrone Pat Doherty said: “I have no information relating to, or knowledge of, the murder of Brian Stack.” 

 

Seanna Walsh served time in the Maze on two occasions, firstly after being arrested in 1973 for robbing a bank and again in 1976 for possession  of a firearm. 

Walsh, from the Short Strand area of Belfast, went on to become Officer Commanding the IRA prisoners in the Maze. 

He was arrested again in the 1980s after being caught making explosives and was released in 1998 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

He became involved with Sinn Fein in west Belfast and is believed to have chosen to meet the Stack brothers. A source described Seanna as Gerry Adams’ “go-to” man in Belfast. The shadowy figure Adams took the Stacks to meet was also described as his “trusted confidante”.

A Chief Officer at Portlaoise Prison, Brian Stack was shot in the neck as he left a boxing tournament at the National Stadium in Dublin. 

The father of three was left paralysed and brain damaged and died 18 months after the attack.

At the 2013 meeting, Austin and Oliver were told the IRA had killed their father in an “unsanctioned” killing and those responsible had been disciplined. It was the first time the IRA accepted responsibility for the killing.

The row erupted in the Dail this week when TDs Martin Ferris and Dessie Ellis were named as being two of the names in Adams’ email under Dáil privilege by Fine Gael’s Alan Farrell.

Ferris was in Portlaoise Prison for gun-smuggling when Stack was killed and referred to the prison officer in his biography as “particularly vindictive”.

Bomb maker Ellis was forensically linked to 50 murders during the Troubles, according to secret British papers that were released in 2012.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on explosives charges in the 1980s.

A fourth man in an email sent to the garda commissioner by Gerry Adams cannot be named because he is facing unconnected criminal charges.

A bitter war of words broke out this week as Austin accused Adams of lying by claiming the names were given to him by the Stack family. Austin claims it is the other way around.