Sunday 22 April 2018

Sinn Féin stance on Tom Oliver murder shows how senior party figures 'strong apologists' for IRA - Micheál Martin

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin Picture: Colin O'Riordan
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin Picture: Colin O'Riordan

Niall O'Connor, Political Correspondent

SINN Féin’s controversial stance on the murder of Louth farmer Tom Oliver demonstrates how senior party figures are “strong apologists” for the IRA, according to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Mr Martin categorically ruled out the prospect of a Fianna Fáil/Sinn Féin coalition, despite some of his own front bench TDs indicating they could be open to such an option after the next general election.

As he prepares to address his party’s think-in in Longford today, Mr Martin described Sinn Féin as “cult-like” and a party that does not tolerate dissent.

And he cited the recent response by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and the party’s front bench spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin, who both said they are opposed to prosecutions of those responsible for the 1991 murder of Tom Oliver.

“In our view and it’s only two years ago when the PSNI and the intelligence community made it very clear the IRA still controls Sinn Féin, or a group of people controls Sinn Féin,” Mr Martin said in an interview with Newstalk’s Chris Donoghue, broadcast Sunday.

“It is a very controlling organisation. They are still very strong apologists for the IRA and the most heinous crimes of the IRA. And we saw that very recently with the reaction by Gerry Adams, and Eoin O Broin by the way to the murder, the new cold case review into the murder of Tom Oliver, the father of seven in Co Louth. Gerry Adams said they shouldn’t be pursued they shouldn’t be prosecuted.”

Mr Martin added that the “majority” of his TDs are opposed to entering government with Sinn Féin.

“Sinn Féin is very autocratic, it’s very one voice, one party, it’s very cult-like. Individuals in Sinn Féin don’t have the freedom to speak out as much as people in my party do,” he said.

However, he accepted that it is unlikely the country will return to a system of two party coalition government.

"I don’t think we are going to get back to the large two party hegemony we had in a previous era.”

Mr Oliver was dragged from his home in the Cooley Peninsula before being beaten and murdered by IRA terrorists. His body was found the following day in Armagh.

Mr Oliver, a sheep farmer, was abducted, tortured and brutally murdered by the IRA on July 19, 1991.

A local priest who attended the post mortem remarked that “it looked like they’d dropped concrete blocks on every bone in his body.”

The IRA claimed responsibility for the murder and made the announcement in Sinn Fein's official magazine, An Phoblacht.

The IRA claimed Mr Oliver was murdered because he was an informant who tipped off gardai to the whereabouts of weapons used by the organisation. However, Mr Oliver's family categorically deny that he was a member of the IRA.

In Louth, people believe the farmer was murdered as a warning to other locals after he reported a barrel of weapons he found on his farm to gardai.

Mr Adams responded late on Sunday, hitting out at Mr Martin's statement.

It is disgraceful that the Fianna Fáil Leader has again chosen to attack Sinn Féin instead of focusing on a government that is perpetuating unprecedented crises in housing and health.

"But it is not surprising given the Fine Gael government exists because Mr Martinsupports it. Micheál Martin also sat at the cabinet table for fourteen years supporting budgets and policies which ultimately led to economic collapse and widespread hardship in this State.

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