Garda Jerry McCabe’s widow wants fugitive gang members to face justice

Murdered garda’s wife was speaking after event marking 25th anniversary of his death

Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys and Ann McCabe at the ceremony in Limerick on Monday. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22

Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys and Ann McCabe at the ceremony in Limerick on Monday. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22


The widow of Det Jerry McCabe, who was shot dead by an IRA gang 25 years ago on June 7th, has called for gardaí to redouble their efforts to bring two fugitive members of the gang to justice.

Ann McCabe said “evil men” took her husband’s life and seriously wounded his colleague Det Ben O’Sullivan in the shooting on Main Street, Adare, Co Limerick, in 1996.

The car the two Special Branch detectives were in as they escorted a post office cash delivery van through the tourist village at 6.03am that day was rammed and the officers fired upon by the gang .

Four men, Kevin Walsh of Patrickswell, Co Limerick; Pearse McCauley, from Strabane; Jeremiah Sheehy from Rathkeale; and Michael O’Neil, from Patrickswell, served prison sentences after pleading guilty to Det McCabe’s manslaughter while on trial for his murder in 1999.

Two other members of the gang fled the country in 1996 and are believed to be on the run in Spain and South America.

A fifth man, John Quinn, of Faha, Patrickswell, was jailed for conspiracy to rob the post office van.

Speaking after attending a commemorative ceremony on Monday, Mrs McCabe said she hoped to see the two last members of the gang in court.

Jerry McCabe and Ben O’Sullivan. Photograph: Brendan Gleeson
Jerry McCabe and Ben O’Sullivan. Photograph: Brendan Gleeson

“They need to face justice for what they have done. There was widespread intimidation of witnesses [at the trial] and that’s where the manslaughter pleas came from.

“In my book you don’t walk up to a car and fire indiscriminately into it and not think you are going to murder somebody.”

Active investigation

Mrs McCabe also revealed that her husband had once fixed a car owned by Kevin Walsh.

“The amazing thing about it was that Jerry did a bit of car work on his days off. He was brilliant with his hands, and he actually put in an alternator in Kevin Walsh’s car when he was helping out at a friend’s garage in his spare time,” she said.

“Jerry didn’t see the wrong in anybody He always gave people the benefit of the doubt, but he never thought they would do that to him.”

Ben O’Sullivan, who was shot 11 times in the botched robbery, said he remained hopeful the two remaining gang members would be brought to justice. He noted that it took several years before before there was a successful conviction for the murder of Det Adrian Donohoe.

“Where there is life there is hope, and I have that hope,” he said.

Speaking in Adare, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said: “This does remain an active investigation, and it is subject to three-monthly reviews so it isn’t in any way forgotten about.

“At all times we wish to pursue further avenues, and lines of inquiry, 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.”

“But we do believe people here in the locality or in Limerick may have information that could be of great assistance to us in locating those individuals.”

Sinn Féin criticised

Separately, Fine Gael has criticised Sinn Féin’s position on the Special Criminal Court, with the party’s byelection candidate in Dublin Bay South, James Geoghegan, saying: “You either support law and order in this country or you don’t.”

Sinn Féin long opposed the non-jury court – used in prosecutions of terrorists and gang criminals – voting against the renewal of the Offences Against the State Act, which provides for it for many years.

However, last year it abstained in the Dáil vote after its justice spokesman Martin Kenny said the party accepted special powers were needed to tackle gangland crime.

Fine Gael has said Sinn Féin’s Dublin Bay South candidate, Senator Lynn Boylan, should say what way she would vote on the issue.

Sinn Féin was contacted for comment but did not respond on Monday.