Sinn Féin leaders complained of harassment after murder of Limerick detective

Detective Garda Jerry McCabe who was murdered by the IRA.

SINN Féin leaders complained of Garda harassment following the murder of Detective Jerry McCabe during an IRA raid on a post van at Main Street, Adare in June 1996.

Newly released State files describe how Gerry Adams and other members of the Sinn Féin leadership raised the issue with Foreign Affairs Minister Ray Burke and Justice Minister John O’Donoghue at a meeting in September 1997.

Mr Adams  warned that the harassment of Sinn Féin activists was  making things complicated in the campaign to deliver on peace process commitments. He also stated that the fatal shooting in Adare was wrong and should not have happened.

Det Garda McCabe was killed and his colleague Det Garda Ben O’Sullivan was seriously injured as the provided an armed escort for the post van which was carrying £81,000.

Their car was rammed from behind and two masked men opened fire with Kalashnikov assault rifles without offering the Gardaí an opportunity to surrender their weapons

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Det Garda McCabe was hit three times and killed almost instantly. Det Garda O’Sullivan was struck 11 times but survived.

Four men, Pearse McAuley, Jeremiah Sheehy, Michael O’Neill and Kevin Walsh, were later convicted of the manslaughter of Garda McCabe.

Mr Adams, who was accompanied to the meting with Ministers Burke and O’Donoghue by Martin McGuinness and Rita O’Hare, acknowledged how members of An Garda Síochána felt after the fatal shooting.

A memo written by an official from the Department of Foreign Affairs stated that Mr Adams referred to ongoing harassment of Sinn Féin activists.

“He understood how the Gardaí felt, but the government needed to have a sense of how heavy is the Special Branch presence.

Mr Adams said that if Sinn Féin was recognised as a legitimate political party, their activists should not be subjected to harassment.”

An earlier plea to the government over the impact of harassment of republicans was made on August 6 when Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty and Rita O’Hare met officials from the Departments of the Taoiseach and Foreign Affairs.

Mr Doherty said no one under-estimated the strength of feeling over the killing of Det Gda McCabe, but the harassment needed to end to create a sense that the peace process was delivering a new era.