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I cannot forgive the IRA for killing my Jerry, says Garda widow 20 years on

By Paul Williams

Published 07/06/2016

The widow of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe has revealed that she has never forgiven her husband's IRA killers.

The Irish policeman was shot dead 20 years ago today in Adare, Co Limerick, by an IRA gang that fired 15 rounds at his car. He was ambushed in a hail of bullets from AK47s brandished by two men in balaclavas. Three hit the officer.

"I haven't changed really in the last 20 years," said Ann McCabe. "I've learned to live with it, but I haven't changed and I don't think I ever will change. The pain is still there."

Ann believes her husband's death was no accident. "I didn't accept it from day one," she said. "If you walk up to a car and start shooting indiscriminately into a car, you stop, and then you start again. Murder is what I would call it."

The 1996 IRA ceasefire had broken down four months before the killing, and the group initially denied any involvement in the attack.

Sinn Fein leader Jerry Adams later confirmed the killing was not authorised by the IRA's so-called army council, but by a lower level authority within the terror group. "He knew from day one who they were," said Ann, "and he knew what operation they were on. It was sanctioned by the people he represents - the IRA, his comrades.

"He said, 'They weren't involved, it was somebody making mischief'. He rephrased that recently when there was another murder. He said 'a bit of mischief-making'. Somebody making mischief to Jerry. Sinn Fein knew who they were playing ducks and drakes with."

Pearse McAuley, from Strabane, and Jeremiah Sheehy, Michael O'Neill and Kevin Walsh, from Limerick, were jailed for manslaughter after appearing at Dublin's non-jury Special Criminal Court. All four men had originally been charged with Mr McCabe's murder, but the State was forced to accept the manslaughter plea when key witnesses refused to co-operate after IRA intimidation.

"I reckon they were spoken to before they got into the box, and that is why," said Ann.

"We had widespread intimidation of witnesses. That is what really got me angry and that was the start of my campaign."

McAuley had previously escaped from a prison in Brixton while awaiting prosecution over an IRA terror campaign in England and had also jumped bail two months before the shooting. Gardai believe it was Walsh who fired the fatal shots.

"It was plain murder," said Ann. "It wasn't manslaughter - so then when the sentencing came out we were shocked at that but we had to accept it.

"Behind the scenes I got myself very active in keeping them inside in jail, because I reckon there was a deal done between the Government and the IRA.

"They wanted to make them part of the peace process because I had confrontations with Mr Adams on a few occasions and he literally told me they were part of it."

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