THE Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys, has confirmed her attendance at a ceremony in Adare next Monday, which will mark the 25th anniversary of the killing of Limerick Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, and she has described his death as a brutal and callous murder.
Although the IRA distanced itself from the 1996 killing, it was carried out by its Munster unit, four of whom were originally charged with Det Gda McCabe’s murder, and the attempted murder of his partner Det Gda Ben O’Sullivan, but were later jailed for manslaughter.
During their trial in 1999, the State accepted their pleas to the lesser charge after key witnesses refused to cooperate.
On June 7, 1996, Detective McCabe and his partner, Detective Garda Ben O’Sullivan, were escorting a post office cash delivery van through Adare when their unmarked Special Branch garda car was rammed by a jeep carrying an armed IRA squad.
During the dawn botched robbery, the gang fired 15 rounds from machine guns into the garda car, killing Det McCabe almost instantly and seriously wounding Det O’Sullivan.
Confirming her attendance at a wreath laying ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the atrocity next Monday, Minister Humphreys said Det Gda McCabe had been “brutally and callously murdered, while carrying out his sworn duty to protect the people of this State, in the unprovoked gun attack.”
“The murder of Jerry McCabe was a particularly vicious crime, I can still recall the shock and revulsion of the public across the country, but particularly those in Limerick where Jerry lived with his wife Ann and their five children,” she said.
“I know that the pain of his loss is still deeply felt by his family and by his colleagues in An Garda Síochána after 25 years, and I would like to express my sincere sympathies to Ann McCabe at this very poignant time for her and for her children and family.”
Minister Humphreys said the two Limerick detectives “were in my thoughts” on May 22 last when she attended the Annual Garda Memorial Day held in honour of the 89 gardai, including Jerry McCabe, who have died in the line of duty.
“At the ceremony I noted the immense service which the members of An Garda Síochána have provided to the State during the most challenging of times. Their dedication and loyalty has never faltered even when severely tested,” Ms Humphreys said.
“The serious injuries sustained by two Gardaí who were recently shot at while doing their duty in Blanchardstown, Dublin, once again reminded us of the dangers the men and women of An Garda Síochána face every day,” she added.
“When Gardaí put on their uniform to go to work, they don’t know what lies ahead. We must always remember that in wearing the uniform and serving the Irish people, they place our protection and their duty to the State above their own safety.”
Minister Humphreys said that “as we approach 2022, the centenary of the formation of An Garda Síochána, the dedication that Gardaí like Jerry McCabe have shown in preserving law, order and the security of our country since the foundation of the State cannot be understated, and we will will recognise and celebrate their contribution in the year ahead”.
Three of the four convicted garda killers, including, Kevin Walsh and Michael O’Neill, both from Lisheen Park, Patrickswell, and Jeremiah Sheehy from Abbey Park, Rathkeale, returned to live in Co Limerick following their release from prison.
The fourth, Strabane native, Pierce McAuley, was returned to prison and sentenced to 12 years for a prolonged knife attack on his estranged wife Pauline Tully in 2014, who was elected as Sinn Fein TD in 2020.
A fifth man, John Quinn, of Faha, Patrickswell, Co Limerick, was jailed for six years for conspiracy to commit the robbery of the post office van in Adare.
Two others, one from Cork and the other from Dun Laoghaire, are still wanted for questioning about the killing, and are believed to be living in Spain and South America.