THE widow of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, who was murdered by an IRA gang 25 years ago today, has called on gardai to redouble their efforts in bringing two fugitive members of the gang to justice.
Ann McCabe said “evil men” took her husband’s life and seriously wounded his colleague Detective Garda Ben O’Sullivan in the atrocity, on Main Street Adare, Co Limerick, on June 7, 1996.
The two Special Branch detectives were rammed and fired upon by the gang, as they escorted a post office cash delivery van through the quaint tourist village at 6.03am.
Four men, Kevin Walsh, Patrickswell Co Limerick; Pearse McAuley, from Strabane, Jeremiah Sheehy from Rathkeale and Michael O’Neill, from Patrickswell, served prison sentences after pleading guilty to Det Gda McCabe’s manslaughter while on trial for his murder in 1999.
Two men other members of the gang who fled the country in 1996, and who are believed to be on the run in Spain and South America, are believed to have travelled back to Ireland several times over the years.
A fifth man John Quinn, of Faha, Patrickswell, was jailed for conspiracy to commit robbery of the post office van on the day.
Speaking after attending a ceremony marking the 25th ceremony of her husband’s murder, Ann McCabe said she hoped, one day, to be able to “eyeball” the two last members of the gang in court.
“Hopefully I will be around if they are brought back, it is my wish that they be brought back, and I will be there to eyeball them, one hundred per cent,” Mrs McCabe said.
“They need to face justice for what they have done. There was widespread intimidation of witnesses (at the trial) and that’s where the manslaughter pleas came from, but in my book you don’t walk up to a car and fire indiscriminately into it and not think you are going to murder somebody.”
Mrs McCabe revealed that her husband had fixed a car owned by Kevin Walsh, who gardai believe fired the fatal shots that killed Detective McCabe.
“The amazing thing about it was that Jerry did a bit of car work on his days off, he was brilliant with his hands, and he actually put in an alternator in Kevin Walsh’s car when he was helping out at a friend’s garage in his spare time,” Mrs McCabe said.
“Jerry didn’t see the wrong in anybody, he always gave people the benefit of the doubt, but he never thought they would do that to him,” she added.
Detective McCabe’s sister-in-law, Una Heaton, said: “It’s very raw, and the two guys who are still wanted for the murder are still free and I just wonder who long does it take to get these guys back into the country – it’s 25 years, is there something wrong,” she asked.
“I hope there is a will to bring them back, after the words of senior gardai today, lets hope it’s not just words – we’re great for chatting in this country and you hear people say, ‘ah, we’ll do that tomorrow’, well, please do it today.”
“Ann is very upset about it the whole time, about why are those two guys on the run this whole time. And, of course, they got the easy sentence because of intimidation of witnesses. Today brings it all back, it’s horrible,” Ms Heaton added.
Ben O’Sullivan, who was struck 11 times in the botched post office van robbery, said he remains hopeful the two remaining gang members will be brought to justice: “I could associate it with the murder of another Garda, Adrian O’Donoghue — four years afterwards the perpetrator of that crime was brought to justice, and in our case the perpetrators were brought to justice, other than two, and, where there is life there is hope, and I have that hope.”
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Limerick Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche both pledged to do everything they could to find the two remaining suspects.
Speaking in Adare, Commissioner Harris said: “This does remain an active investigation, and it is subject to three-monthly reviews so it isn’t in anyway forgotten about.”
“At all times we wish to pursue further avenues, and lines of enquiry, and perhaps the public can help us in that, because there are two fugitives who would have been well known in this area who have now moved elsewhere, they are not within our jurisdiction, they are not within our grasp.”
“But we do believe people here in the locality or in Limerick may have information that could be of great assistance to us in locating those individuals,” Mr Harris said.
Earlier, Ann McCabe told those who gathered in Adare: “Six evil men were involved in that ambush – four faced justice – two are still on the run, but I have no doubt with the combined efforts of the Department of Justice with An Garda Siochana, will eventually track them down and bring them back to Ireland for justice to be done.”
Mrs McCabe said she will never get over her husband’s “brutal killing”, and that her husband was close to retirement when he was gunned down in cold blood: “Jerry had modest dreams for the future, which he never got to see”.
She said the silence of Adare village “was shattered when evil and murder invaded the Main Street” when, “just across the road, the sound of a hail of bullets, shot at point blank range into two noble and upright and honest gardai as they sat in the front seats of a patrol car”.
“In those few seconds of evil and depravity my family and the lives of our five children changed forever.”