Name of Tom Oliver’s IRA killer no longer my information, says Harris

Garda Commissioner warns protesters targeting Ministers’ homes

The name of the senior IRA member who ordered the murder of Louth farmer Tom Oliver was held by the PSNI and it was for that police force to decide what to do with it, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said.

In 2012, when he was a PSNI assistant chief constable, Mr Harris offered to share the name of the killer with the Smithwick Tribunal in written form.

On Wednesday at the joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Peter Fitzpatrick TD (FG) asked Mr Harris: "What's happening with the name of this person from the IRA, I hope it's not going to be buried, where do we go from here?"

Mr Harris replied: "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 within his possession and that’s for him to determine what actions he takes next.”

The Commissioner said he had already met the Oliver family. And he would meet them again in coming weeks as they were seeking a briefing on a review carried out within the Garda into the murder 17½ years ago.

Tom Oliver (43), a married father of seven and sheep farmer with no political involvement, was abducted in Louth and shot in the head and his body dumped just north of the Border in Co Armagh.


In reply to questions from Senator Martin Conway (FG), Mr Harris said demonstrators who take their protest to the homes of Government Ministers were moving away from acceptable forms of protest and needed to be very careful.

No form of intimidation outside the homes of elected officials or other public figures would be tolerated by gardaí.

“In respect of protests that are mounted at, or close to, people’s homes; that is a scaling up of what one could call a legitimate protest activity,” Mr Harris said.

“And those who engage in that need to understand that they need to be sure that they do not engage in any shape or form in behaviour that could be regarded as breach of the peace or intimidation.”

“We will have no tolerance of that,” he added. “Demonstrating outside a Government building is an entirely different kettle of fish to demonstrating at somebody’s home.

“We are here to protect democracy and part of that is to protect the institutions and those individuals who are integral to those institutions and we won’t fail to do that,” he said.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times