GARDA Commissioner Drew Harris issued a fresh appeal for information today (Wednesday June 7), which he hoped would lead to the arrests of two individuals Gardaí suspect were involved in the 1996 murder of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, 27 years ago today.
Detective McCabe, a father of five originally from Ballylongford, Co Kerry, but living in Limerick, was gunned down by an IRA gang as he and colleague Detective Garda Ben O’Sullivan escorted a cash mail van through Adare, Co Limerick, on June 7 1996.
Garda sources said two males, who are sought by Gardaí for questioning about the killing, have been living in Europe and Central America.
The gang responsible rammed the detectives’ patrol car and fired 14 rounds into the vehicle, killing Detective McCabe instantly and seriously injuring Detective O’Sullivan, who passed away last year after a short illness.
A spokeswoman for An Garda Síochána said that Commissioner Harris previously spoke about his dedication to the investigation into the murder of Detective McCabe at a commemoration ceremony held in Adare on the 25th anniversary of McCabe’s death.
“Commissioner Harris said that the investigation into the murder of Det Garda Jerry McCabe remains an active investigation that is subject to regular review. That remains the case.”
The spokeswoman said that Commissioner Harris is still appealing to the public, particularly the people of Limerick, for “any information in relation to two individuals suspected to be involved in the murder who are living abroad”.
Reliable sources said that Gardaí have long been aware of the whereabouts of the two men suspected of being involved in the events that led to Detective McCabe’s death, but it is understood one of the barriers faced by Gardaí in arresting one of the men is that he has been living in a location in Central America, where there is no extradition treaty arrangement with Ireland.
Four men, Pearse McAuley, Kevin Walsh, Michael O’Neill and Jeremiah Sheehy, were previously on trial for detective McCabe’s murder, however, their pleas to manslaughter were accepted by the State.
The four were subsequently released after serving their sentences, despite efforts by Sinn Féin to have them released early under terms of the Northern Ireland peace deal.
A fifth man, John Quinn from Faha, Patrickswell, Co Limerick, who was not present during the gun attack in Adare, was jailed for six years for conspiracy to rob the post van on the day.
Detective McCabe’s widow, Ann McCabe, as well her late husband’s brother-in-law, Pat Kearney, have previously appealed to the authorities to question individuals that Gardaí believe were involved but have so far evaded arrest.
That appeal still stands today, said a source close to Ms McCabe.
The source added that Ann McCabe also wanted to express her “thanks to the people of Limerick and Ireland for their generous and wonderful support to the McCabe family over the years”.
Two of her children, John and Ross, are current serving members of An Garda Síochána.
Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea said he supported Ann McCabe and Pat Kearney’s appeals to the authorities to bring the case to a conclusion.
“I’d support that. I can’t see any logical or good reason why these guys haven’t been interviewed yet,” said Mr O’Dea.
The Limerick TD described the killing of Detective McCabe as “a direct attack on the State”.
“It was very blatant and the community was in total shock for weeks afterwards. I remember attending the funeral and there was an eight-hour queue, which showed what the people of Limerick thought of what happened.”
Mr O’Dea said it was “unacceptable” that any individuals suspected of being involved in Jerry McCabe’s killing would not be arrested, no matter how much time had passed.
Speaking at the Adare commemoration on the 25th anniversary of her husband’s murder, Ann McCabe said she hoped to one day be able to “eyeball” those still wanted by Gardaí in connection with the 1996 killing.
“Hopefully I will be alive 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,” said Ms McCabe.
Also speaking at the Adare commemoration, Commissioner Harris said the investigation remained “active and is subject to three-monthly reviews, so it isn’t any way 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,” he said.
Chief Superintendant of the Limerick Garda Division, Derek Smart, added that An Garda Síochána “continue to appeal for anybody with information in respect of this matter – no matter how small they think it may be – come forward to us”.
Prior to his death last year, Detective Ben O’Sullivan also shared his hope that alleged outstanding members of the gang would be arrested by Gardaí.
“The perpetrators were brought to justice, other than two, and, where there is life, there is hope, and I have that hope,” Mr O’Sullivan said.