Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has claimed the State cannot bring closure to the families of all Troubles victims — contradicting his own party and appearing to back Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams over the Brian Stack scandal.
Mr Ahern, who was one of a number of people closely involved in the latter stages of the peace process, made the comment as a Sinn Féin adviser was forced to apologise for wrongly linking Mr Stack’s son Austin to Fianna Fáil.
Speaking after attending the Dublin launch of a House of Lords report calling for a fresh Ireland-British Brexit deal, Mr Ahern said while it the Stack controversy is deeply damaging, he understands why Mr Adams claims he cannot reveal all information on the murder.
The former taoiseach said the reality is “there are going to be umpteen of these cases” and that “it’s very hard to put the circumstances of now into the circumstances of then”.
Contradicting current Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who has repeatedly insisted Mr Adams is failing to provide full details on what happened and that he is obliged to explain everything he knows about all murders, Mr Ahern said this is unlikely due to the sheer scale of incidents and the fact they are now “historical” in nature.
“I think you know there are going to be umpteen of these cases, there are thousands and thousands of cases and it’s very hard to put the circumstances of now into the circumstances of then.
“I understand it on all sides, there are thousands of files that don’t have much in them. About 4,000 people were killed, and I think there’s something like 50,000 files. You cannot resolve all of these cases.
“Of course, it’s very hard to say to them [victims’ families] ‘listen we can do nothing about it, they are historical inquiries now’, it is horrendously difficult.
“I remember having to explain to the victims of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings which took place in May 1974 about how the file was closed in August 1974.
“That’s what used to happen in those days. Now, say if there was a major murder today and the file was closed in three months, there would be outrage.”
Meanwhile, the political adviser for Sinn Féin Cork South Central TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has been forced to apologise after claiming on Twitter that Mr Stack’s son Austin is linked to Fianna Fáil.
In a message sent on Saturday, adviser Stephen Todd wrote that “it’s time for Austin Stack to resign, Fianna Fáil would do much better without him”, a remark believed to have been intended to reference Fianna Fáil’s calls for Mr Adams to resign.
After a Sinn Féin spokesperson was contacted by the Irish Examiner, the tweet was deleted with Mr Todd sending a second message out to say: “I tweeted something on Saturday which may have caused offence. If it did I apologise.”
I tweeted something on Saturday which may have caused offence. If it did I apologise. The tweet has been deleted— Stephen Todd (@UbuntuLad) December 12, 2016
The situation emerged as Dáil sources confirmed the cross-party committee on procedure will meet tomorrow to discuss whether Fine Gael Dublin Fingal TD Alan Farrell abused Dáil privilege by naming Sinn Féin TDs Dessie Ellis and Martin Ferris during a debate on the Stack murder last week.
It has been claimed that a journalist provided the names to Mr Farrell and asked him to raise the matter in the Dáil.
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