Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams accused of showing 'utter contempt' for family of farmer shot dead by IRA

By John Mulgrew

The son of a senior prison officer murdered by the IRA says calls from Gerry Adams for the killers of an innocent farmer to be spared jail are "shameful and disrespectful".

The Sinn Fein president claimed that sending the murderers of Tom Oliver to jail would be "totally and absolutely counterproductive".

Politicians, campaigners and relatives of IRA victims all moved to criticise Mr Adams amid a growing political row.

Austin Stack said Mr Adams' comments "showed utter contempt for Tom Oliver's family".

Mr Stack - whose father, Brian, a chief prison officer, was shot by the IRA in 1983 - said: "I know the Oliver family quite well and I know the effect that these outrageous comments will have had on them."

In an interview, Mr Adams said "filling the prisons" with IRA killers would serve no purpose.

The Louth TD was responding to calls for him to intervene in the case of Mr Oliver, a sheep farmer who was abducted from his home in the county in 1991.

Mr Stack said "no other political leader would continually get away with this" adding: "So why is Mr Adams allowed to?"

He added: "Gerry Adams tries to portray himself as a peacemaker but nothing could be further from the truth as he has clearly shown that he is not interested in the delivering truth or in reconciling with victims."

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie accused Mr Adams of hypocrisy.

"Gerry Adams is elected by the people of Louth to the Republic of Ireland's parliament and in any normal democracy it would be simply incredible that an elected representative would not want to see Mr Oliver's murderers brought to justice," he said.

"His credibility as an elected representative, Sinn Fein party leader and self-appointed leader of republicanism, is once again in the gutter."

Kenny Donaldson from Innocent Victims United said Mr Adams had demonstrated a "blatant disregard for the rule of law" with his comments.

"We don't live in the world of the Provo green book and constitution," he said.

"Mr Adams and his deputies and MLAs in Northern Ireland have committed themselves in words to the legitimate law of both jurisdictions.

"Actions must now follow and Mr Adams must begin by apologising for his latest callous remarks to a family robbed of their loved one.

"He must then commit unequivocally to provide assistance to the reopened case".

Irish Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said Mr Adams had made an "appalling sugges­tion" of forgiveness.

"We have an independent judicial system, independent Office of Public Prosecution, we have a Garda force that has served us well since the foundation of the State.

"And, if all of those institu­tions are doing their job cor­rectly, then if there is evidence people should be brought before the courts. And there is no place for political interference in terms of the administration of justice. The Oliver family have waited long enough for justice."

Mr Oliver was abducted from his home in Riverstown, Co Louth, on July 19, 1991. His body was discovered the next day in Belleeks, south Armagh.

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