Sunday 25 February 2018

New evidence sparks probe into IRA murder of farmer

Tom Oliver
Tom Oliver

Cathal McMahon and Ciaran Moran

Gardaí are carrying out a fresh investigation into the high-profile IRA murder of a sheep farmer 26 years ago after a review uncovered a number of new lines of inquiry.

Sheep farmer Tom Oliver was abducted from his home in Riverstown, Co Louth, on July 19, 1991.

He was then tortured and murdered by the IRA.

His body was found less than 24 hours later in Belleek, south Armagh.

He had been shot in the head by his attackers.

The IRA issued a statement in which it said that Mr Oliver was shot because he was a Garda informer.

But this claim has been strongly rebuffed by family, friends and gardaí.

A full murder investigation was carried out.

But nobody has ever been convicted over the death of Mr Oliver.

Now it has emerged that a Garda review was launched into the case some three months ago by officers based at Ardee station, and working under the direction of Superintendent Fergus Treanor. has learned that the fresh investigation began after this initial review uncovered a "number of new lines of inquiry".

A senior source said: "This new information has been examined and followed up.

"The review team is up and running for three months. Gardaí are out on the ground in Cooley for the last three months."

There have been no arrests at this stage.

However, sources say that the team is making good progress, and that officers from Dundalk and Drogheda have been assigned to the case.

Additional resources have also been set aside.

Mr Oliver, who had a number of young children, had no known involvement with the IRA.

His murder sparked outrage across the community.

Gardaí were convinced that Mr Oliver was shot in order to intimidate others in the Cooley area not to have any dealings with the security forces.

It is believed that it was also to allow the IRA to use the Cooley area with impunity for the storage of arms and ammunition, and also for training purposes.

Thousands turned out for the arrival of Mr Oliver's body at his family home.

On the Monday morning following his shooting, thousands attended the removal of remains and Mass in St James's Church, Grange.

The murder was the subject of a documentary, and was covered on the 'Late Late Show' on RTÉ One.

A month after the murder thousands of people attended a STOP rally which was organised to oppose intimidation by IRA gangs.

Supt Treanor issued an appeal yesterday for anyone who has any information to come forward to gardaí at Ardee station.

"We are anxious for anyone with information to come forward."

Irish Independent

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