Belfast Telegraph

Provo killers of Louth man must face justice, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tells Gerry Adams

By Staff Reporter

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams that the Troubles cannot be used as an excuse to "whitewash" what he described as the "senseless killing" of Louth farmer Tom Oliver.

In his first comments on the murder, Mr Varadkar said there is "no question" of any amnesty being extended to the IRA figures who carried out the atrocity.

Mr Oliver, a father-of-seven, 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".

Senior gardai have been reviewing the murder for the past eight months and have appointed a dedicated officer to liaise with the Oliver family.

The Irish Independent revealed this week that members of the victim's family are still afraid to speak out publicly, for fear of retribution.

Mr Adams has been accused of compounding the family's trauma after he claimed in an interview with his local radio station LMFM that the death was "politically motivated" and that the killers should not go to jail.

Speaking for the first time about the murder, Mr Varadkar rebuked Mr Adams over his comments. "The murder of Tom Oliver was a heinous act," the Taoiseach told the Irish Independent.

"There can never be any justification for the deliberate murder of civilians in any circumstances and there is no question of an amnesty.

"The Troubles cannot be used as an excuse by anyone to whitewash over such a senseless killing."

It has also emerged that Mr Adams himself was 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 an interview with Prime Time on RTE in 2015.

In the same interview the Sinn Fein 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 Fein president is under extreme pressure after he said last week that jailing the IRA murderers of the farmer would be "totally and absolutely counterproductive".

Senior gardai believe the fresh investigation is making progress.

It has been ongoing for over eight months, however details of the review only emerged in recent weeks.

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.

The IRA claimed responsibility for the murder and made the announcement in An Phoblacht.

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