Wednesday 24 January 2018

Adams criticised over Tom Oliver murder

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams last week came under pressure from his Louth Dail colleagues over the murder of Cooley farmer, Tom Oliver.

Two weeks ago, the Argus revealed that Gardai in Ardee, along with officers in Dundalk and Drogheda, are reviewing the 26-year-old murder and Peter Fitzpatrick TD said he had met with members of the investigation team last week and passed on any information he had about the murder.

Mr Adams said he has no information, apart from what appeared in the media about why Mr Oliver (42) was killed, and said it was not his responsibility to investigate as this was a matter for Gardai.

And he criticised Fine Gael's Mr Fitzpatrick and Fianna Fail's Declan Breathnach for making statements about the 1991 murder, saying they were being 'negative, cynical and opportunistic' in 'seizing' on the issue to 'attack Sinn Fein'.

He also said it 'wouldn't be productive' for people to go to prison in relation to the case, but he 'upholds the families' wishes to see prosecutions'.

Mr Adams appeared on LMFM's Michael Reade's show on Thursday where the presenter said the programme had been in touch with the Oliver family ahead of the TD's appearance on it and they wanted answers to some of the questions they had about the murder.

Mr Adams said he acknowledged the right of the Oliver family to seek the truth about their father's death, but there were mechanisms in place for them to do that.

He said the loss of the Oliver family was 'very grievous' and 'they deserve to get to the truth' using 'processes established to do that' under the Stormont House Agreement of 2014.

And he said it had 'ended very badly' when he was asked about getting involved with the family of murdered prison officer Brian Stack and the 'ability to assist families of victims was severely undercut by how that initiative played out'.

On the radio programme the following day, Friday, Mr Fitzpatrick said he had met with Superintendent Gerard Curley about the case and also with the Oliver family in the wake of Mr Adams' interview the previous day.

The Fine Gael TD said the family was 'very, very disappointed' with the inteview as they 'had hoped he would have helped them get closure in some way'.

He said it was time for the 'IRA to come clean' about the murder and added that Mr Oliver had been tortured, even though he had no connections with any paramilitary group. Mr Fitzpatrick said the Oliver family wanted to know: 'why did the IRA torture my daddy?'

Sinn Fein, Mr Fitzpatrick added, 'needs to get rid of all their skeletons in their closets' and he said he believes the IRA is still in the Cooley and North Louth area' and 'there is still intimidation in Cooley'.

He said: 'I'm pleading this morning that if people are afraid to come to the gardai, (with information), then they can come to me on the phone or in my office'.

Mr Breathnach told Michael Reade that neither he nor Mr Fitzpatrick are responsible for the reopening of the Oliver case.

He said: 'To hear Deputy Adams say that we were being cynical or opportunistic or we seized upon this situation is absolute diatribe as is the norm from Gerry Adams. I want to make it quite clear that I refute that.

'I have not hidden behind the bush about IRA activity or under different names or guises'. Mr Breathnach added the Oliver family, and other victims, were 'entitled to the truth and justice'.

He said: 'He was no informer. I'm not an informer. If there are issues relating to illegality or criminal activity in Cooley, or anywhere else, the onus is on people to do their civic duty.

'In any democracy, people talk and discuss the differences they have with the opposition. No-one should be in the business of intimidating or torturing or murdering.

'I condemn the murder of Tom Oliver or anyone in the interests of a united Ireland, which I want as well'.

And he added that he believed that Mr Adams 'has an ability to help and progress this case'.

Both TDs stated the death was 'murder' and Mr Breathnach said that while there is 'huge merit' in a truth and reconciliation process, 'people have to take responsibility . . . if everyone is prepared to sit around and bring out the truth. Tom Oliver was an ordinary farmer going about his day to day business'.

The Argus

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