Death of Jerry McCabe
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Detective Garda Jerry McCabe (22 November 1943 – 7 June 1996) was a member of the Garda Síochána, the police force of the Republic of Ireland. McCabe was murdered in Adare, County Limerick on 7 June 1996, by members of the Provisional IRA, during the attempted robbery of a post office van.
Detective Garda McCabe was born in Ballylongford, County Kerry on 22 November 1943. He was married to Anne, herself the daughter of a Garda. The couple lived in Limerick and had five children, John, Mark, Ian, Stacey, and Desmond, known as Ross. John and Ross are serving members of An Garda Síochána.
The two detectives were escorting an An Post van carrying £81,000 at 6:50 am on the morning of 7 June 1996 when Detective Garda Ben O'Sullivan noticed a Pajero heading towards them from behind. The car collided with them. Two men wearing balaclavas jumped out of the Pajero, and fired 15 rounds from an AK-47 at the detectives. Three rounds hit Jerry McCabe, killing him. His colleague, O'Sullivan was seriously injured, having been hit 11 times. One bullet strayed and lodged in the Garda patrol car, a Ford Mondeo. They were fired on full automatic by the gunman. O'Sullivan, who was driving the car, has said that he is convinced it was deliberate, controlled shooting.
Shortly after the shooting, a Mitsubishi Lancer arrived and the would-be robbers made their getaway in it. No money had been stolen by them, but both vehicles used at the crime scene had been stolen.
The killing of Detective McCabe happened four months after the breakdown of the first IRA ceasefire in 1996. The Army Council of the IRA initially denied involvement, but later claimed that individual members were involved "in contravention of its orders". Later Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams would state that the operation was "not authorised by the Army Council, but authorised at a lower level by an authorised person". Initially, the killing was denounced by the leadership of Sinn Féin, but later the party lobbied for the early release of McCabe's killers under the terms of the Belfast Agreement. In 2005, the prisoners stated that they did not want their release "to be part of any further negotiations with the Irish government."
Pearse McAuley from Strabane and three County Limerick men – Jeremiah Sheehy, Michael O'Neill and Kevin Walsh – were convicted by the non-jury Special Criminal Court of manslaughter. McAuley had escaped from Brixton Prison in 1991 while awaiting prosecution over an IRA campaign in England and had jumped bail in the Republic of Ireland two months before the shooting. O'Neill was released from prison on 15 May 2007 with Sheehy released on 4 February 2008. Walshe and McAuley were released on 5 August 2009 after completing their full sentence. Sinn Féin had campaigned for their release under the Good Friday Agreement despite the Irish Government's insistence that these prisoners were excluded during the negotiations for the treaty. The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland accused the Irish government of "double standards" by not granting those responsible for the killing early release, as part of the Good Friday Agreement.
Detective Garda Jerry McCabe's widow Anne has been praised for the way she conducted herself since the shooting. In New York in 2006, she challenged Gerry Adams as to why his organisation was calling for the release of the men convicted of the killing. In 2000, she was presented with a Gold Scott Medal. The Scott Medal is the highest honour bestowed by the Republic of Ireland on a Garda who has shown exceptional courage and heroism risking their lives in their work as police officers.
Detective Garda Jerry McCabe Fellowship
An academic exchange programme in honour of the slain detective was established in 1996 at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. The purpose of the exchange is to promote the sharing of practices and technologies in policing and criminal justice between Ireland and the United States. Detective Garda Jerry McCabe's son John was the first recipient of the fellowship in 1997.
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