Peter Fitzpatrick The Michael Reade Show LMFM Radio 14 February 2019

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Michael Reade has Co. Louth Independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick in studio to discusses his questioning of Garda Commissioner Drew Harris about the 1991 murder of Co. Louth farmer Tom Oliver at a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice  yesterday, 13 February 2019.
(begins time stamp ~ 26:06)

Michael:   Now the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) Chief Constable has the name of a senior Provisional IRA man who allegedly ordered the murder Tom Oliver in 1991 – this is according to the Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, who was in front of the Justice Committee yesterday and was responding to questions put to him by Independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick who’s come into us this morning. Good Morning! to you, Peter Fitzpatrick, and thanks for joining us. It was a most interesting interaction. In fact, we’ll be listening to the questions you put to the Commissioner and the Commissioner’s response a little bit later on in the programme. But perhaps you’d begin by putting this into context for us – what happened in 1991? Who was Tom Oliver?


Independent TD for Co. Louth Peter Fitzpatrick

Well, first of all Tom Oliver was a forty-three year old man. He was a husband. He was a father of seven children. He was a sheep farmer. And the Gard and everybody in the area maintain that he had no connection to any paramilitary or security forces. He was abducted, he was tortured, he was brutally murdered by members of the Provisional IRA. His body was found in Belleek in Co. Armagh; he was shot in the head. In postmortem the local priest couldn’t really recognise him because it looked as though a concrete block had smashed the whole man’s body up. Tom Oliver was an innocent person who back in 1989 discovered a barrel on his land and in the barrel there was, when the Garda came along, there was guns and I maintain from that day on that Tom Oliver’s life was a big threat.

Michael:  Alright and the IRA took responsibility and An Phoblacht, the Republican newspaper, published the reason why which was that the IRA believed that he was an informant and I think, if I remember correctly, the IRA at the time made it known to people that informants would be treated in the way that Tom Oliver was.

Peter:   Yes, that Sinn Féin magazine made serious allegations against Tom Oliver and his family and also published that the Provisional IRA did do the murder. Yes, it was an opportunity – this is my second time in front of Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris – and I think, you know, it’s about time – like 1991 is an awful a long time and like since 1991 Tom Oliver’s mother has died, one of his daughters has died, the wife’s not well at the moment and I think it’s time we need a bit of clarity and I had an opportunity…

Michael:  …It was twenty-eight years ago!

Peter:  It’s a long, long time.

Michael:   I mean, surely the file’s now closed on this.

Peter:  No. As you know yourself there’s new file opened there last year. There was supposed to be new information found on the head of the car number on cigarette packet and that there, but listen…

Michael:  …And just to stop at that point – at that time, when the Gardaí reopened the investigation, Drew Harris was actually working for the PSNI. Now Drew Harris is the Garda Commissioner. And he told you that the PSNI has the name of the person who ordered Tom Oliver’s killing and this is why you raised it with him at the Justice Committee yesterday.

Peter:  Yeah. I think the main reason I did take it up is when you look back from 2006 to 2014 Drew Harris was a Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable and his main function – at that time he was the crime operator. He was the man that gathered all the intelligence, he was looking after the terrorist groups, the criminal groups and he had direct links to MI5. So, and also, I also stated yesterday that back in 2012 he came in front of the Smithwick Tribunal and he made serious allegations as such…

Michael:  And the Smithwick Tribunal was investigating the killing of two RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) officers.

Peter:  Yeah, there was two RUC officers they murdered and there was also a connection there with the Dundalk barracks and there was a lot of things that happened there but like if you look back there, that happened back in 1989, and there was two RUC – first of all there was Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan who was ambushed and murdered by the Provisional IRA – and his witnesses he found, Drew Harris was up in front of the Smithwick Tribunal and people don’t realise it – he was actually there for eleven hours – so he was giving an awful lot of information. He was talking about the murder of the two RUCs and he also maintained that the person who informed the IRA about the activities of the two RUC officers was also the person who that informed the IRA about allegations on Tom Oliver. So, we had an opportunity…

Michael:  …Was that somebody in Dundalk Garda Station?

Peter:   Well listen, as I said, Peter Smithwick, the judge over the case, said that everything that Drew Harris, said the evidence that he gave, was all true. And these…

Michael:  …He was asked by Justice Smithwick: Who ordered the killing of Tom Oliver?

Peter:  Oh, he did. Like let’s, I’ll tell you what, Michael, I’ll just start it at the beginning, Michael. I know you said that later on you’re going to run in on your programme. Back in October 2012 there was the Smithwick Tribunal and it was done in closed session and Drew Harris made a lot of statements there and what happened was then, it was in closed session – and in fairness to Peter Smithwick, who was the judge at the time, after consultation he came out and published a lot of what was said and what he did say was that Drew Harris told him that there was a file and there was sensational information in the file. And it was basically saying, naming, a senior IRA personnel who ordered the murder of Tom Oliver.

Michael:  A member of the Army Council?

Peter: Oh, yes. And this man came to the area and met members of the IRA in the Cooley area – that these people didn’t want Tom Oliver murdered but he gave the direct go-ahead to murder Tom Oliver. So Tom Oliver was abducted, he was taken down to Armagh.

McEvoy Park STOP Rally

Like and, the Sinn Féin magazine again also stated that there was supposed to be a tape released at the time stating that Tom Oliver said that he was an informer. Like as I said to you, the parish priest looked at the body and I’ll tell you one thing, like, what happened to that poor man! Like he must have been – listen, the problem that I got here is that members of the family listening to this at the moment and you said it, it’s twenty-eight years ago and all they want is closure – but Drew Harris told the Tribunal that the Garda have the information and he wrote down on a piece of paper the name of the person. And I think that people of – first of all the Oliver Family – the people of the Cooley area who, I stated on your programme for the last number of years, is a split community – there’s families not talking, there’s people banned from pubs – like that whole area is completely split! And all we want now is – and Drew Harris, the Garda Commissioner, the Chief Constable of the PSNI – have to come together, we have to – let’s get it once and for all.

Michael:  Right. We’re going to hear what you said yesterday, we’re going to hear what Drew Harris, the Commissioner, said yesterday and we’re also going to hear what the Chairperson of the Committee said yesterday because I think people have to hear this for themselves to believe what happened and to make up their own minds as to why there was an intervention. If people are familiar with this story they’ll know that Sinn Féin don’t want this murder investigated. Gerry Adams said it would be ‘unhelpful’ to have it investigated and Gerry Adams certainly doesn’t want it investigated and he made those statements at the time as the president of Sinn Féin. Now you asked these questions of the Garda Commissioner yesterday and the Chair of the committee is a Sinn Féin TD. And Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin said: Well, you don’t have to answer those questions. He made it clear to the Commissioner that he wouldn’t expect him to answer them and seemed to think he wouldn’t be in the position to answer them and the Commissioner was, obviously, of a very different mind and was well prepared to answer them and had already met with the Oliver Family.

Peter:  Like from day one, even if you look at the first conference that the Garda Commissioner gave he actually sat in the chair on his own. This man has promised to look after vulnerable people. I had an opportunity yesterday to ask questions about Tom Oliver and, in fairness, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin, who was the Chair of the Committee, said that we could ask whatever questions we wanted to ask.

Michael:   Were you surprised that Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin suggested that the Commissioner mightn’t be able to answer it?

Peter:  Well, I was very, very disappointed and in fairness, he normally is a good chair.

Michael:  That was odd – wasn’t it?

Peter:  I honestly could not believe yesterday – the way he intervened – because, in fairness, like I’m on the Justice Committee for the last number of years and no matter what TD asked questions I’ve never once interrupted anybody at that moment – we’re all entitled to ask the questions. And I had an opportunity yesterday to ask the questions and, in fairness, he gave me answers. I think the big plus we got yesterday was that the Garda Commissioner has already said that he met the Oliver Family and he’s given the commitment over the next number of weeks to go and visit the family again. I’m sure, when he met the Oliver Family first, I’m sure the Oliver Family did ask him a few questions. I’d say what he’s doing at the moment is he’s sitting down digesting it. I’m sure that he’s talking to the Chief Constable…

Michael:  …He was very familiar with it. How do these things work? You said you were told you could ask whatever questions you wanted – was the Commissioner aware that you were going to raise this?

Peter:  No. No…

Michael:  …He knew the case without having to give it a second thought.

Peter:   Well, when the Commissioner came first of all up in front of the Committee I quizzed him for nearly thirty minutes as you told on your programme. And in fairness every question I’ve asked him – I find him him very up, very open. And in fairness, like there’s a lot of allegations going around in this country at the moment that the person who’s involved is A, B and C…

Michael:  …But he believes he knows himself who ordered the killing of Tom Oliver. He gave that name to Justice Smithwick. He says that’s information belonging to the PSNI now. He has met with the Oliver Family. He took questions from you yesterday. He said he’ll meet with the family again but there’s no questioning his familiarity with this particular case. He is very, very much aware of what happened in 1991.

Peter:  Well, if you go back to the 2012 Smithwick Tribunal he held nothing back. He faced everything exactly. He said that he does know the name of the person who ordered the murder of Tom Oliver, he handed it to the judge so he’s familiar with it. I think he’s a lot of information there at the moment. I know, I know that the people in Co. Louth, the family, the Oliver Family – all we want is clarity. After twenty-eight years I think we’ve really, really come a long, long way. I think Drew Harris has an opportunity of closing this case…

Michael:  …We’ve asked Gerry Adams (I’m sorry for having crossed you but we’re coming up to news time) we’ve asked Gerry Adams to make comment on this on the programme tomorrow or at another time. We don’t know if he will because he’s made his statements on it previously. There’s questions about what Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin said yesterday or how he intervened in the interaction yesterday and undoubtedly the family have questions that they’d like Sinn Féin to answer now about the investigation into the killing of Tom Oliver. What would you like Sinn Féin to do now?

Peter:   Well first of all, if I was Gerry Adams and – if you go back to Prime Time back in 2015, Miriam O’Callaghan, when she was interviewing Gerry Adams, first of all he wouldn’t answer any of the questions she was asking him – but he has an opportunity, now, of clearing his name because if you go back to the time Tom Oliver was murdered, in the 18th-19th July in 1991, it just happened that Gerry Adams happened to be in the Cooley area. And Miriam O’Callaghan put all these questions to him and like, like I’m not (inaudible) all we want to know is, sorry, all we do know at the moment is that the Garda Commissioner knows who the informer was and I think there’s an obligation on the Garda Commissioner, the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland, to work together for once and for all to put closure on to Tom Oliver. As I said to you early on, his mother died in 1991, his wife’s not very well at the moment, one of his siblings has died and I just think, for once and for all, we have to do something and all I’d say at the moment is: Please let the right thing be done.

Michael:   Independent TD for Louth, Peter Fitzpatrick, thank you very much indeed. (ends time stamp ~ 38:39)

Later in this programme the audio portion of the 13 February 2019 Justice Committee meeting related to TD Fitzpatrick asking Garda Commissioner Drew Harris about the murder of Tom Oliver is played. (begins time stamp ~ 51:02)

Michael:  The Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, was in front of the Justice Committee yesterday. Let’s hear some of the interaction the Commissioner had with local Independent TD, Peter Fitzpatrick.

Peter:  On July 19th 1991 Tom Oliver, a forty-three year old man from Riverstown, Co. Louth, a husband who had seven children, a sheep farmer, no connection to any paramilitary or security forces was abducted, tortured and brutally murdered by members of the Provisional IRA. His body was found across the border in Belleek in Co. Armagh. He was shot in the head. A local priest who attended the postmortem remarked that it looked like they dropped a concrete block on every part of his body. All his family is looking for is justice and who killed their father. In October 2012 you gave evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal in closed session. Judge Peter Smithwick decided after consultation to publish. He stated that you told him, Based on intelligence files compiled by the PSNI and the RUC and MI5, the British security services, you spoke about the killing of Tom Oliver and that one intelligence file was noting short than sensational. File ‘Number Nine’ stated: intelligence indicated that a senior Provisional IRA Council member was directly involved in the ordering of the murder of Tom Oliver. The senior Provisional IRA Army Council had been approached by several Provisional IRA members and others requesting that Tom Oliver not to be killed. Despite this request, the senior Provisional IRA Army member directed that Tom Oliver be executed. You were then asked: Did you know who that person was and, if so, would you pass on the information to the Gardaí? Your answer was: Yes.

Unidentified Voice:  …(inaudible)…

Peter:  …Excuse… Asked if you would like to give the name of the…

Committee Chair Ó Caoláin:  …Deputy Fitzpatrick…

Peter:  …I’m nearly finished. I’m nearly finished, please.

Committee Chair Ó Caoláin:  If you would indicate what the nature of your question is.

Peter:  Yeah. I’ve just one more sentence left. Asked if you would like to give the name of the Army Council member who sent Tom Oliver to his death you opted to write it down and give the name to Judge Peter Smithwick. This family has suffered since the murder. All I want to do is ask the Garda Commissioner: Where do you go from here? A fresh investigation is underway. Will you meet the family? And what also I want to know is : What is actually happening? You’re now the Garda Commissioner and I just want to know and what this family wants to know is: What is happening from here on? Thank you.

Committee Chair Ó Caoláin:  Deputy Fitzpatrick, I feel that the Commissioner will respond as he is in a position to respond – if you’re in a position to offer a reply today.

Commissioner Harris:  Well, I have met the family and the family will be coming into see me again over the next couple of months. And so they want an update on the review that An Garda Síochána have committed to and indeed finish in respect to the abduction and murder of Tom Oliver. And so I prefer a meeting with the family to brief them on that. The body of Tom Oliver was recovered in Belleek South Armagh so the Chief Constable of the PSNI has the jurisdiction for the investigation of that murder and we will be assisting the PSNI in any review that they would do in respect to that murder.

Peter:  This is, like the name – what’s happening with the name of this person of the IRA? What’s actually happening there at the moment? I hope it’s not going to be buried. Where do we go from here?

Commissioner Harris:  Well, that’s no longer my information. That’s information which is held by the Chief Constable in the Police Service of Northern Ireland. So that information is in his possession and that’s for him then to determine what actions then he takes next.

Peter:  Well, my main concern here is the family and I’m delighted that you already met the family and I’m delighted that you’re going to meet the family again because it’s the family who lost a father and neighbours lost a friend and this person had no connection whatsoever with any paramilitary. To me, this was a very innocent man, I’m delighted – and all I’d like to see is closure and thank you for your response.

Michael:  Peter Fitzpatrick, Independent TD for Louth, asking questions of the Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, at the Justice Committee yesterday about the killing of Tom Oliver in 1991. (ends time stamp ~ 55:56)

Peter Fitzpatrick & Declan Breathnach The Michael Reade Show 28 August 2017

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Michael Reade is joined in studio by Louth Fine Gael TD Peter Fitzpatrick and Louth Fianna Fáil TD Declan Breathnach about the newly re-opened investigation into the 1991 IRA execution/murder of Co. Louth farmer, Tom Oliver. Both TDs make an urgent and emotional appeal to certain local people to come forward with information. (begins time stamp ~ 1:01)

Michael:   Now we’ll begin this morning with the news last week that Gardaí have re-opened the investigation into the murder of Tom Oliver in Co. Louth in 1991. We’re joined by some local TDs: Declan Breathnach of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s Peter Fitzpatrick to appeal for information on this killing. And a very good morning to both of you and thank you, indeed, for joining us here this morning. Obviously there’s not just a lot of interest about the killing of Tom Oliver but I imagine there’s a lot of knowledge about who was involved in the killing of Tom Oliver and that there’s local people who have information that they could make known to the Gardaí.

Deputy Fitzpatrick:   Well first of all, Michael, my condolences to the family. Tom Oliver was forty-two years of age. He was the father of seven. He was murdered by the IRA on the eighteenth of July 1991. He left his home that evening, there was a cow calving, he went to a neighbour, he asked for the loan of jacks and the next thing he was abducted, he was tortured and he was murdered. Tom Oliver was a farmer. I feel he was a very vulnerable farmer because he worked on his own. People in the area – to think about it – when you’re a farmer you tend to do the same thing repeatedly day after day after day – and I’m a firm believer that somebody, some person in Cooley, or some persons in Cooley, know exactly what happened to Tom Oliver. And I think it’s very, very important now – last year his daughter was buried – buried – didn’t know who murdered her father. I’m a father myself. I’m also a grandfather. And there’s one thing: Nobody has the right, no matter what happened, to take anybody’s life.

Michael:    And he was executed by the IRA. It’s been reported that he was brought to his executioners by two men, known locally, who’s business was snubbed as a result. So those who snubbed the business have suspicions about who was involved and undoubtedly there’s names going around and have been going around for years. Have you heard any of those names?

Deputy Fitzpatrick:   Well, Michael, what happened in the community – it actually split the whole community down (inaudible). At the time I played a lot of GAA football and what it actually done to the GAA clubs and the entire community – it actually split it up. Now the thing that really, really annoys me is that trying to suggest that Tom Oliver was an informer. Tom Oliver was no informer. And Tom Oliver’s family, his friends the Garda, like the Garda have no reason to tell lies about this. At the time Tom Oliver was murdered there was a lot of talk about ammunition being hidden in the area, that the IRA was training in the area and the Gards were doing an investigation in the area. And to me, what they done was, the reason why Tom Oliver was murdered, was to intimidate the people in the area. I’ll tell you, but I will be honest with you…

Michael:  …Have you heard any names, though, that have been linked to the killing of Tom Oliver?

Deputy Fitzpatrick:  Michael, I have heard names of people who’ve been linked to Tom Oliver. It’s the same names for the last twenty-five, twenty-six – now the Garda are doing their best at the moment. I am pleading with the people in the area. Someone has to know something. Like how could someone look at Tom Oliver’s wife and his children and his family? And you know, this was a very, very decent man. Like I’m not coming on your programe and pretending that I knew Tom Oliver. I knew Tom Oliver to say hello and at the time he might come into my business and buy a bit of electric stuff. I knew Tom Oliver and to me he seemed a very, very decent person. And all I’m pleading at the moment – this has gone on far, far, far too long and I’m delighted that the Gardaí have opened a new line of inquiries. I hope that they have new information. I hope that somebody has come forward and I hope that that happens ASAP.

Michael:  Alright. Declan Breathnach, I’m sure you could relate to everything that’s just been said there.

Deputy Breathnach:  Well, I’m glad you said that, Michael, I want to concur absolutely with everything that Peter Fitzpatrick has said and I’m not going to be repetitive on that. My recollection of 1991 was I had just been elected for the first time on Louth County Council.

McEvoy Park STOP Rally

In fact, the STOP (Stop Terror Oppression and Pain) rally that was organised by the community at that time was my first public engagement and indeed my attendance was in support of the people in the Cooley Peninsula who were incensed and angered and indeed the silence at that particular rally of over four thousand people who attended was palpable and everything Peter said is correct and I’m not going to go over that. Whether it was the death of Tony Golden, Adrian Donohoe, indeed Captain Robert Nairac, Tom Oliver, Seamus Ludlow or Hugh Watters in the Crowe Street bombing – families are entitled to closure, entitled to know what happened and I would equally appeal that with the re-opening and the re-examination of this particular murder of Tom Oliver that families be given the opportunity to heal. They’re still grieving and the families that I mentioned also are grieving because they need answers and they need to know what happened. And from my point of view we hear a lot of talk about truth and reconciliation and providing closure and the ultimate issue here is: That this was a cowardly act perpetrated on an innocent man and the family are entitled to, and I certainly, like Peter andI’m sure, most Oireachtas members and most public representatives, would seek justice for them.

Michael:  And you’re referring to the IRA’s involvement in this and Tom Oliver was killed by the IRA and I suppose the question that is being answered differently by some people is as to whether this was an IRA execution or if it was a cold-blooded murder. And just to remind people, if I may just for a second, Declan, that the An Phoblacht newspaper, Sinn Féin propaganda paper I suppose you could say, on the twenty-fifth of July 1991 – this is according to Wikipedia at least, ran a headline: ‘IRA Executes Informer‘ and the story read:

The IRA has a duty to protect its organisation, its Volunteers and the back-up provided by its supporters. Tom Oliver’s death was due to his willingness to act as an agent for the Dublin government Special Branch.

Now that’s how it was reported in An Phoblacht and there’s also reports that when he was working on drainage work in 1989 he discovered a barrel. He didn’t know what was in that barrel, reported it to the Gardaí and it turned out to be IRA guns and that that may have led to this killing – whether that was known to the IRA at the time that he didn’t know what was in the barrel or not?

Deputy Breathnach:  Well Michael, let’s be very clear on this: You read what was in An Phoblacht. It is clearly acknowledged that the IRA accepted responsibility for this and you know the issue of labeling anybody with the term ‘informer’ – all you do is look it at the dictionary you will see it’s somebody who informs against another especially for money or reward. Tom Oliver was no informer. Tom Oliver, the same as you or I, if you discovered explosives or guns on your property people – whether it was 1991 or today or 1971 – have a civic duty to speak with the Garda Síochána, who are the protectors of this state, in order to ensure that those products are not used to the detriment of people. Now there is an element here that has crept into this whole issue in terms of his death and that is the issue of the involvement of the Garda Síochána. And as part of this investigation, there’s no question in my mind or indeed from speaking to members of the family, that Tom Oliver was under serious pressure in the run in to his abduction and brutal murder. Clearly pressure was being put on him to provide additional information and that needs to be looked at in terms of how those who perpetrated the crime in the cowardly way could even justify that he was speaking to Gards. But I want to make it very clear: civic duty. Tom Oliver was not an informer. And if there were criticism and there is criticism out there of how the Garda handled their dealings with Tom Oliver that also needs to be brought to the fore. But could I just say that it is everybody’s civic duty – I have heard too much talk about truth and reconciliation and people not stepping up to the mark. The leadership of Sinn Féin have called, many times in the past – when it suits – on their members to give information to An Garda Síochána. I know that those people who come forward are not informers. They would be doing their civic duty. And like Peter Fitzpatrick said this morning and I, I’d call on anybody who has information that would bring closure and help to a grieving family

Michael:  Okay. Well let’s talk a little bit about Sinn Féin which I’m sure will be of interest to a lot people because Sinn Féin’s position on this killing is unclear. And in 2002 in the general election campaign, the sitting TD or the Councillor, Arthur Morgan, who went on to become a TD, was asked by Tom Oliver’s son, Eugene, in a letter that he wrote to The Argus at the time – What’s the difference between the murders of Seamus Ludlow and Tom Oliver? Because as you say, Declan Breathnach, Sinn Féin have campaigned for a long period of time for information into the wrongful killing of Seamus Ludlow and he wanted a similar statement from that political party at that time. I don’t think Sinn Féin has ever taken a public position on the killing of Tom Oliver other than the one that I read from An Phoblacht earlier on this morning. Just to mention to our listeners as well: We did seek to speak with Gerry Adams about this on the programme last week when Gardaí announced that they were re-opening the investigation. Mr. Adams has been on holidays. I think he’s returned this week and perhaps he’ll speak to us at some stage this week about this new investigation. In his absence we sought to speak with the other TD for the constituency, Imelda Munster, who told us on Wednesday that she would hope to speak to us on Friday but on Thursday she said she wouldn’t be speaking on the matter to us. So we returned then to the Sinn Féin Press Office and we asked that they would issue us with a statement on the killing of Tom Oliver and as yet we have not heard from Sinn Féin. Peter Fitzpatrick, do you remember any statement from Sinn Féin in relation to the killing of Tom Oliver?

Deputy Fitzpatrick:  No, Michael, I never remember Sinn Féin making any kind of statements. My big concern although, Michael, is that I do believe that the IRA are still in the Cooley Peninsula area. I still believe that there’s people in the area knows exactly what happened to Tom Oliver. I do believe that people in the area would want to come forward but they do fear for their life. I’m not coming onto your programme to criticise Sinn Féin. I do believe that Sinn Féin knows something about Tom Oliver’s murder. And I would plead with Deputy Gerry Adams and Deputy Imelda Munster to please have a chat with your organisation. Please find out exactly what happened to Tom Oliver. Whether they know or don’t know there is people in the organisation I do believe – like go back to 1998 to the Good Friday Agreement – I think that was one of the best things to ever happen in this country. But to get the Cooley Peninsula back to the way it was it’s so, so important that the Tom Oliver murder – and it is murder because the man was abducted, he was tortured, he was murdered – a priest went in afterwards to have a look at the body and he could not recognise the body! Now I will be honest – I was talking to members of Tom Oliver’s family over the weekend and I have to be very careful because in fairness – the family – this is taking the whole thing back up again and like you know and I believe that his wife has only found out recently what actually happened to her husband you know so I don’t want to start going on and on. But I do plead with people in the areas. And listen, whether or not you want to go to see the Garda Síochána, you can either go to see Declan or myself, we’re making ourselves available there at the moment as it is but I think we need clarity and I think for the Cooley Peninsula and in fairness it has come a long, long, long way at the moment but there is still something wrong right at the moment – there is. Like twenty-six years later no matter whether you go to Carlingford or Omeath or any part of the Cooley Peninsula the name of Tom Oliver is there. And also I can see the fear of people at the moment is. This one thing is – like it’s bad enough doing harm but when you actually cold-blooded murder the person. I’m an ex-soldier. I was a member of the 27th Battalion and I know a little bit about weapons and shooting and I’ll tell you, it takes an awful lot for a person to put a bullet, to shoot somebody, but this man Tom Oliver was tortured first…

Michael:  …But that’s it and I must say, I know that the family are listening and I’m acutely aware of that and we do have to be sensitive to that but we also have to be realistic about the conversation if we’re to appeal to other people who might have information as to whether they should come forward with that information or not because you describe it as a cold-blooded murder but there are, undoubtedly, others who would see this as an act of war, if you like – that this was an execution and that whether Tom Oliver was, or was not, an informer the perception was that he had informed and there was a line of command and the command was to execute this man.

Deputy Fitzpatrick:  Well I’m a firm believer that the people in the Cooley and Peninsula area wanted peace – that’s to me what is was, peace. And what was happening was the Cooley area in the ’90’s was being used for training, for holding ammunition and, in fairness, like what happening was people were fed of it and what the IRA was a wee bit afraid of – I’m a firm believer – this was a plot by the IRA. I believe they used Tom Oliver as a scapegoat. I think they used Tom Oliver’s shooting to intimidate people in the area. And now listen – people listen: Let’s stand up. The IRA are still in the Cooley area. We have to get rid of the IRA. The 1998 peace process has taken us a long way but until we (inaudible) and get rid of it once and for all and I might, before I finish up talking, Michael, I want to reiterate: I want Gerry Adams and Imelda Munster to come out here now and say honestly either they know who killed Tom Oliver or they don’t know who killed Tom Oliver because I am fed up to the teeth here at the moment listening to this. I do believe there’s people in the Cooley area that actually was either involved or know who killed Tom Oliver and I’m pleading with people to come to see Declan, myself or the Gards – whatever they want. Listen, let’s get it sorted once and for all.

Michael:   Okay, let me go back to Declan Breathnach because if there are people listening to us who have information about the killing of Tom Oliver it’s quite possible that they would have been supporters of the IRA campaign. Is it possible to envisage them coming forward with information that might result in a prison sentence for people who carried out what they believed to have been an act of war?

Deputy Breathnach:  Whether you’re a member of Sinn Féin, a member/former member of the IRA or had been involved in both, my definition of true Republicanism is respect for everybody and no death or murder can be justified. My difficulty in all of this is that there’s been too much fudge when it suits, people say certain things and when it doesn’t it ignores or refuse to participate. The reality, and it’s known and history will write, that people who have been involved, whether they have ‘left the stage’, as I think is the phrase that was used by Sinn Féin, and the orders from the IRA for people to desist, the reality is that some people have come in to the democratic process, there are others on the fringes of it and we have that even in the Dáil Éireann to this day and right across the country. People have to – I’ve been described more recently on your programme, Mike, as a ‘dinosaur’. I’m not a dinosaur. The reality here, and people know it, press reporters know it – that there are people who want to ride two and three horses and will continue to put unnecessary pressure to deliver a united Ireland and unnecessary upset to families and that has to stop. And the way that that can stop is by people coming forward and giving the information and bringing closure to an ever-grieving family – until the family’s name is cleared. Tom Oliver was doing his civic duty – no more nor less.

Michael:  And would that in itself be enough that there would be a statement from the IRA, in other words to that effect, rather than people being brought before the courts?

Deputy Breathnach:  I think in the whole issue of – I’m not going to second guess what Gerry Adams or the organisations involved or are no longer involved want to do…

Michael: …No, but I go back to the question that I put to you about asking people to come forward and inform on members of the IRA if they are people who supported the IRA campaign – it’s not a realistic proposition I wouldn’t think.

Deputy Breathnach:  I do think that it would go some way for the family to hear that Tom Oliver was a decent farmer going about his business rearing and trying to rear his family in a difficult time and that he was doing his civic duty. After that, if somebody has murdered somebody, as they have, I certainly believe – and if it was my dad or your dad, Mike, I think we would want to see justice in people being brought to trial. We had the whole issue of getting repatriation of people, not having to serve sentences as result of the Good Friday Agreement – murder is murder in my language and it’s up to people to examine their conscience and, indeed, to be truthful in relation to the past and that can be done through truth and reconciliation but let the people listening to this programme be under no illusion – Tom Oliver was doing nothing more than his civic duty in any communication he had with An Garda Síochána.

Michael:  Okay. And you’ve both been speaking with the Oliver Family. It’s your understanding, certainly Peter Fitzpatrick, that the family would take some sort of satisfaction from a statement to that effect which would indicate that it was wrong to suggest that Tom Oliver was an informer.

Deputy Fitzpatrick:   Oh, yes! Like as you said straightaway, the IRA Press Office came out and stated that Tom Oliver was an informer. Tom Oliver was no informer. Basically what the family wants is closure as I say at this moment is the family want to know what actually happened to their father. They want to know who actually murdered their father in cold blood. Like Tom Oliver went, he was abducted, he was murdered – he was tortured! And like, you imagine, Michael, that was your father. You imagine your father being abducted, being tortured, then he’s shot in the head, being left on the side of a road. This can’t go on! But my main trouble at the moment is in the Cooley area, I know in my heart and my soul there is people in the Cooley area knows exactly what happened to Tom Oliver. I know in my heart and my soul that they want to come forward but it’s a fear factor. And I’m telling you – this new investigation – please contact your local Garda. Please contact either the police or a politician.

Like when Tom Oliver was murdered there was four or five thousand people that attended the funeral – like the Archbishop, the Cardinal – all political parties condemned it. I just do believe that there is someone in the area that knows what happened. Let’s get this family, after all this length of time, let’s get them some kind of closure. As I said to you, one of his daughters was buried there last year and she went to her grave and didn’t realise what happened to her father. All the family want is closure. All the family want is whoever knows what happen to their father – let them know what happened to their father over that period of twenty-four hours.

Michael:  Okay, we’ll leave it there for the moment. Thank you both for joining us here on the programme this morning. Peter Fitzpatrick is a Fine Gael TD in Louth and we were also speaking with Declan Breathnach who’s a Fianna Fáil TD for Louth. (ends time stamp ~ 21:27)