O’Malley ‘a great loss’ to Ireland in opposing Sinn Féin and IRA, says slain garda’s widow

Garda Jerry McCabe grew close to Des O’Malley as his bodyguard in Limerick

Des O’Malley and Ann McCabe: ‘Jerry also travelled a bit with Des. They became close and we were all invited out to his house in Corbally.’

Des O’Malley and Ann McCabe: ‘Jerry also travelled a bit with Des. They became close and we were all invited out to his house in Corbally.’


Det Garda Jerry McCabe and Det Garda Ben O’Sullivan grew close to Des O’Malley, when they were bodyguards for the politician and his family, when they lived in Corbally in Limerick.

By then, Mr O’Malley had played a key role in the arms crisis, had established the non-jury Special Criminal Court – set up to try subversives and later organised crime gangs – and had introduced the Offences Against the State Act.

His actions made him an IRA target: “Dessie stood up to the IRA, he was the best man to fight them, Jerry always said. He really was one of the few who spoke out against IRA/Sinn Féin,” said Det McCabe’s widow, Ann, on Thursday.

The three men met together for the last time at Adare Manor in on April 29th 1996, when the two detectives were on duty to protect a group of Irish and British politicians staying in the hotel.

Just weeks later, on June 7th, Det McCabe was killed and Det O’Sullivan seriously wounded when IRA men fired 14 rounds into their unmarked Garda car, in an ambush as it approached Adare village, protecting a post office cash van.

“To me, they are all the one, I have the very same opinions of them as Dessie did. Sinn Féin are trying to get rid of the Special Criminal Court and I hope they don’t get their way, because if that court hadn’t have been established Jerry’s killers would have walked free,” said she said.

Mr O’Malley’s creation of the Special Criminal Court remains one of his principal legacies, she argued. There has “to be a deterrent” for those who would attack gardaí, “They haven’t gone away, they haven’t gone away”.

“There will never be another Dessie O’Malley, I can tell you, he was the best minister for justice. Jerry also travelled a bit with Des. They became close and we were all invited out to his house in Corbally,” she went on.

Like other colleagues in the Garda Special Branch that protected Mr O’Malley, her husband would go to any lengths to keep him safe: “Jerry was very fond of Des, because he was so straight, an honest man,” she said.

Her husband had once travelled with O’Malley “up the country”, the location remains undisclosed, when he still under active IRA threat: “Jerry slept in a damp bed wherever he was. He was bed-ridden for three or four days when he came back.”

Through all the years, they remained close. Mr O’Malley launched To The Honour of Jerry McCabe, a book about her fight to keep those convicted of her husband’s death in jail, written by the late journalist and author Dermot Walsh.

“When Des’s wife Pat died, I wrote to him and he sent me back a lovely letter, and more recently last month from the nursing home he was in, he said he was sorry he couldn’t get to Adare for Jerry’s 25th anniversary, but sure the poor man wasn’t able to at that stage.”

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald’s recent condemnation of the Adare killers – a departure for Sinn Féin – “surprised” her, she said, but “it doesn’t mean anything to me” as others in the party refuse to echo their leader’s words.

“She condemned the killers, why doesn’t the rest of Sinn Féin condemn them, especially Gerry Adams? He never did. It doesn’t mean anything to me,” said Ms McCabe.

Others in political life must continue Mr O’Malley’s stand, she said: “Yes, that would be my view, Dessie is a great loss to our country in opposing Sinn Féin and speaking out against the IRA. If they get what they want, God help us, God help us.”