Death of Sean Oliver
Death of Sean Oliver

One of Belfast’s oldest republicans, Sean Oliver, died on Tuesday after a long illness.

In 1942, Mr Oliver was one of six IRA men sentenced to hang for the death of RUC man Patrick Murphy, who was shot and fatally wounded as he entered a house on the Falls Road where the republicans were hiding after a gun attack on an RUC patrol.

The veteran republican was sentenced to hang alongside Tom Williams and Joe Cahill.

As IRA leader, Williams accepted responsibility for the killing and Mr Oliver and the four other republicans had their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

Mr Oliver was eventually released from Crumlin Road jail in 1949.

In January 2000, the veteran republican was present when Tom Williams’ body was exhumed from Crumlin Road jail and reinterred in Milltown Cemetery.

Paying tribute to Mr Oliver, National Graves Association spokesman Liam Shannon said: “Sean’s death is the end of an era as he was the last survivor of the men sentenced to hang in 1942.

“Tom’s death affected Sean and the other men very badly.

“Sean was at the forefront of the campaign to have Tom’s body exhumed from Crumlin Road jail and it was a very emotional day for Sean and Joe Cahill when they were able to fulfil the promise to Tom that he would be buried in Milltown Cemetry.

“Sean was a committed republican all his life and he was a strong advocate of the peace process when it came in the 1990s.

“Nothing was too much for him.

“He will be sadly missed throughout Ireland.”

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