Belfast Telegraph

IRA killers of innocent farmer shouldn't be jailed, says Gerry Adams

By Kevin Doyle

Sending the murderers of innocent farmer Tom Oliver to jail would be "totally and absolutely counterproductive", Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said.

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

"I don't think it would assist the wider process that all of us are engaged in," he said.

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

The father of seven young children was tortured and murdered by the IRA who claimed he was an informer.

It emerged in recent weeks that gardai have refocused on the murder after a review uncovered a "number of new lines of inquiry".

Detectives believe Mr Oliver was shot in order to intimidate others in the Cooley area not to have any dealings with the security forces.

Asked on LMFM radio whether he believe Mr Oliver was an informer, the Sinn Fein leader replied: "It's not my responsibility to investigate any of these matters. That's a matter for An Garda Siochana."

Pressed on whether he would like to see the killers brought to justice, Mr Adams said: "I would have a very strong position, while defending the right of the family to prosecutions… I think it [jailing his killers] would be totally and absolutely counterproductive."

He also described the attack on Mr Oliver as a "politically motivated killing".

Last night, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin described the comments as "absolutely extraordinary and quite frankly bizarre", adding that Mr Adams remains "primarily an apologist" for the IRA.

"They actually illustrate a lack of moral compass, as Tom Oliver was brutally murdered in cold blood. Those who actually murdered him should, of course, be brought to justice," he said.

Mr Martin said the family of Tom Oliver have been "to hell and back" since his death and it was totally unacceptable for Gerry Adams to place his murder in a political context.

Mr Oliver's body was discovered with a gunshot wound to the head in south Armagh.

The Provisional IRA claimed responsibility in a statement issued to Sinn Fein's official magazine An Phoblacht.

Mr Oliver's family has categorically denied that he had any links to the IRA.

Before his murder, it was claimed Mr Oliver discovered a barrel of weapons on his farm and alerted gardai to the discovery.

Defending his position Mr Adams said he wants a truth and reconciliation commission and is working to "create a climate" where people could come forward with information.

He said these efforts were being "actively blocked by a British Government that was up to its neck in killings".

Mr Adams said he would not seek to find out more details about the case.

He cited how he secretly brought the sons of murdered prison officer Brian Stack to meet an IRA man.

"I'm not going down the road that I went down before which was exploited grievously by Sinn Fein's political opponents, which jeopardised any authority or influence that I may have," he added.

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