'We just want to know who killed him' - Family of IRA murder victim Tom Oliver still living in fear
More than 26 years on, family and friends of IRA murder victim Tom Oliver are terrified to speak publicly about the brutal killing for fear of retribution, the Irish Independent has been told.
Some of those closest to the murdered father-of-seven have expressed outrage after Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams publicly suggested that his death was "politically motivated" and the killers should go unpunished.
"Does Gerry Adams know what he is doing to us?" a close friend of the victim told the Irish Independent last night. "We just want to know who killed Tom."
Mr Adams's extraordinary claims to his local radio station LMFM last week will overshadow Sinn Féin's annual think-in in north county Dublin today. 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". It has emerged that Mr Adams himself was "by fluke" holidaying with family in the Cooley area of Co Louth on the day Mr Oliver was murdered.
"I was actually in, by complete fluke, I was on holidays down in Galway and came back up. I was in the Cooleys at the time Tom Oliver was killed. I was with my family in the Cooleys at that time," the Louth TD said.
In the 'Prime Time' interview in 2015, the Sinn Féin leader reacted angrily when it was suggested by presenter Miriam O'Callaghan that he was the "court of appeal" that sanctioned the murder. Mr Adams denied the claim, describing the accusation as "reprehensible".
But the Sinn Féin president is under extreme pressure after he told broadcaster Michael Reade last week that jailing the IRA murderers of the farmer would be "absolutely counterproductive".
A spokesman for Sinn Féin said last night Mr Adams will make a "significant address" to the party's think-in today but sources say he will not announce plans to step aside.
A close friend of Mr Oliver said he and others are afraid to speak publicly for fear of retribution.
The friend said he believes Mr Adams and gardaí "have the answers" and that he and the family want justice. "We don't know what's going on with the investigation. But we want to know the truth."
The source said Mr Adams has not reached out to the family since gardaí announced a review of the murder. A number of Louth politicians, including Fianna Fáil's Declan Breathnach and Fine Gael's Peter Fitzpatrick, have strongly condemned Mr Adams. Senior Government ministers have warned Mr Adams that there will be "no amnesty" for those who committed "senseless" killings during the Troubles.
Mr Oliver was dragged from his home in the Cooley Peninsula before being murdered by IRA terrorists. His body was found the following day in Armagh.
The IRA claimed responsibility for the murder and made the announcement in Sinn Féin's official magazine 'An Phoblacht'. It claimed he was murdered because he was an informant who tipped off gardaí to the whereabouts of weapons. Mr Oliver's family categorically deny he was a member of the IRA.
Adams accused of role in Provos killing of farmer
Gerry Adams was asked about the murder of Louth farmer Tom Oliver in an interview with Miriam O'Callaghan on RTÉ's 'Prime Time' in March 2015.
MOC: In relation to another infamous murder, that of Tom Oliver, Tom Oliver in Louth, you know that case do you?
GA: I do, yes.
MOC: In Cooley, he was taken by the IRA, murdered horrendously. In fact, the local priest said it looked like concrete blocks had been dropped on every bone of his body.
GA: Of course that's to be condemned if that's the case, that's to be condemned, of course it is. I was actually in, by complete fluke, I was on holidays down in Galway and came back up. I was in the Cooleys at the time Tom Oliver was killed. I was with my family in the Cooleys at that time.
MOC: There is a strong belief though that in fact you were the court of appeal that said that Tom Oliver should go to his death.
GA: How can you, there is 'strong belief'. How can you come on this programme and say that, Miriam? You're a journalist. How can you come on that programme and say that?
MOC: Because in the same way I suppose Garda commissioners, PSNI constables, Taoisigh, prime ministers (interrupted)
GA: Excuse me Miriam, you're making the most, the most (interrupted)
MOC: But you can deny it.
GA: Excuse me. But you should not be. You would not have the leader of the Labour Party who was a very, very prominent member of The Workers Party, at the time for example of Seamus Costello. You wouldn't have Pat Rabbitte in here and put that accusation to him?
MOC: But I'm entitled to put it to you (interrupted).
GA: You're not entitled to put it to me. You're not entitled to put it to me.
MOC: But you can deny it.
GA: Well I clearly deny it. But I do think it is a very, very reprehensible accusation to make. I am on this programme trying to make sense out of what was a conflict which marked this entire island and also very grievously the number of thousand of people who were killed.
MOC: But I'm speaking to you about the actions of republicans and you're here as a leader of republicans, so I have to put those questions to you.
GA: That's very different than accusing me. What are your sources? No, sorry Miriam, you cannot just come on a programme and say, it is widely believed or it is believed that you were on a court of appeal?
MOC: Widely believed by members of his family?
GA: Miriam, Miriam.
MOC: Yes that is the case Gerry Adams.