Apology shows SF leader's convoluted sense of reality
In the following years, however, Sinn Féin gradually changed its position. The IRA eventually accepted one of its units was involved but claimed it had operated without authorisation. Four IRA members were arrested and put on trial for the murder of a garda. At the trial two key witnesses withdrew their intended evidence citing IRA intimidation and the Director of Public Prosecutions had no option but to accept manslaughter pleas.
Then in a further shift in position Sinn Féin representatives, and Martin Ferris in particular, became the cheerleaders in chief for their early release.
Ultimately, in the lead-in to St Patrick’s Day’s in 2005, Sinn Féin again changed tack. Adams and others were being cold-shouldered by Senator Ted Kennedy and other leading Irish-Americans because of the IRA’s involvement in crime, including the Northern Bank robbery, Robert McCartney’s murder, and because of its failure to fully disarm.
That week the McCabe killers issued a statement from prison saying they did not want their release to be part of further negotiations with the Irish government. In so doing they were seeking to make a virtue of reality since the minister for justice Michael McDowell and even Bertie Ahern had already ruled it out.
In their statement the killers also said they deeply regretted and apologised for the hurt and grief they caused to the McCabe and O’Sullivan families. McCabe’s widow Ann dismissed the IRA’s apology as sickening. “It means absolutely nothing,” she told the Washington Post.
This week Adams is again backed into a political corner and has sought to construct a shield of apology. The similarities between the McCabe killing and that of Garda Donohoe are chilling – although there is no suggestion the IRA is involved.
As party leaders paid Dáil tributes to Garda Donohoe, Adams, who claims he was never in the IRA, apologised on behalf of the IRA for a killing committed by members of the IRA who, although disowned by the IRA at the time, are now celebrated as IRA heroes. It illustrates how convoluted the Sinn Féin leader’s version of reality has had to become.
Adams also apologised to families of “other members of the State forces” killed by republicans. It was a revealing choice of vocabulary. The rest of us do not put that distance between us and members of the Garda Síochána. We do not see Gary Sheehan and Jerry McCabe as part of “State forces”. To us they were like Adrian Donohoe – protectors of our peace shot down in the service of our community.