Monday 20 January 2020

Gardaí launch fresh probe into 1991 murder after 'new lines of inquiry' identified

Gardaí in Ardee have launched a fresh investigation into the murder of Tom Oliver (inset)
Gardaí in Ardee have launched a fresh investigation into the murder of Tom Oliver (inset)

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 before being tortured and murdered by the IRA.

His body was discovered less than 24 hours later in Belleek, South Armagh. He had been shot in the head.

The IRA issued a statement in which they said that Mr Oliver was shot because he was a Garda informer, but this claim was refuted by family, friends and the Gardai.

Tom Oliver
Tom Oliver

A full murder investigation was carried out but nobody was ever convicted.

Now it has emerged that a garda review was launched into the case some three months ago by officers in Ardee station under the direction of Superintendent Fergus Treanor. has learned that the fresh investigation was commenced after this 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 but sources say the team are making good progress. Officers from Dundalk and Drogheda have been assigned to the case and additional resources have also been set aside.

Mr Oliver had a number of young children when he was abducted and murdered.

He had no known involvement with the IRA and his murder sparked outrage across the community.

Gardai 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, and to allow them use the Cooley area with impunity for the storage of arms and ammunition and for training.

Thousands turned out for the arrival of Mr Oliver's body at his family home, and 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 RTE One. A month after the murder thousands attended a STOP rally to oppose intimidation by IRA gangs.

Supt Treanor issued an appeal today for anyone with information to come forward to gardaí at Ardee station.

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

Witnesses can contact Ardee Garda Station 041 6871130, The Garda Confidential Line 1 800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

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