Complaint that Alan Farrell abused Dáil privilege

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell has been asked by an Oireachtas committee to address a complaint he abused Dáil privilege by naming two Sinn Féin TDs in relation to the killing of a prison officer.

The Dáil committee on procedure and privileges has told Mr Farrell to respond to allegations he defamed TDs Dessie Ellis and Martin Ferris and possibly also undermined a Garda investigation.

Mr Farrell raised their names in the chamber last week, after Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams made a statement about what he knew regarding the IRA shooting of prison officer Brian Stack in 1983.

Mr Farrell at the time said it was “entirely appropriate” the two should be given an opportunity to speak.

Mr Ellis and Mr Ferris, who strenuously deny any link to the Stack killing, have complained to the committee about Mr Farrell’s actions.

Their letter of complaint, seen by the Irish Examiner, says Mr Farrell’s comments were “wrong”, “defamatory”, and “it is also possible they have undermined an ongoing Garda investigation”.

They tell Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, also the chair of the committee, it was “regrettable” he did not ask the Fine Gael TD to withdraw his remarks on the day.

The two TDs want the remarks withdrawn “without qualification” and claim Mr Farrell breached Dáil rules.

“Deputy Farrell’s comments were politically opportunistic and a cynical attempt to exploit the business of the house,” they state.

Mr Ellis and Mr Ferris also claim that, in the wake of being named by Mr Farrell, that they had received death threats.

They ask that “appropriate action” be taken against Mr Farrell.

Mr Farrell last night stood over his actions and said he would respond to the committee correspondence. He said he had not breached Dáil rules or done anything wrong.

The committee has sought legal advice about the issue. Its members have been asked to consider the complaint and decide whether Mr Farrell did abuse Dáil privilege.

Separately, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has clarified the record of the Dáil regarding remarks he made about Brian Stack’s sons travelling in a van with Gerry Adams to meet the IRA about their father’s killing.

Mr Kenny last week said Mr Adams drove the two sons in a blacked-out van to meet an IRA figure about the killing.

Speaking yesterday, he acknowledged that this was not the case. “He drove the Stack brothers in his own car to a point, where they then travelled in a blacked-out van — in which I assume he was the passenger.

“So I wish to correct the record of the Dáil to the effect that Deputy Adams did not drive the blacked-out van, but he did travel in it.”

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