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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Youtube/RTÉ The detective garda was shot dead in his car in Adare, Co Limerick

20 years on: Family, friends and colleagues gather to remember Jerry McCabe

The detective garda was shot dead by the IRA on this day 20 years ago.

FAMILY AND COLLEAGUES of detective garda Jerry McCabe are gathering in Adare, Co Limerick to mark 20 years since his death at the hands of the IRA.

McCabe was killed when he was shot three times with an AK47 by a number of IRA members who were attempting to rob a post office in the town.

Another detective garda Ben O’Sullivan was injured in the hail of bullets.

This morning, 20 years on from that day, O’Sullivan joined Garda McCabe’s widow Anne McCabe as well as current and former gardaí at a memorial service at Adare Garda Station.

At a commemoration ceremony Ann McCabe, along with her daughter Stacey, laid flowers outside the station.

Members of the force performed a guard of honour and members of the Garda Band played a haunting rendition of the hymn, Abide With Me, which was sung at Det McCabe’s funeral mass.

Chief Superintendent David Sheahan, who laid a wreath, led senior members of the Limerick Garda Division, including Superintendent Derek Smart, Superintendent Tom O’Connor, and Superintendent Jim Ryan, in a minutes silence at 6.55am.

“For me, today is the same as 20 years ago on June 7th,” Ann McCabe said speaking afterwards.

Nothing ever changes, but you learn to live with it and get on with it.

Speaking publicly for the first time since that day, Ann O’Sullivan, wife of retired Detective Garda Ben O’Sullivan, said: “I found it very hard today.”

It brought back every hour of this time twenty years ago. It brought tears.

The killing of Garda McCabe provoked shock around the country 20 years ago, coming four months after the Provisional IRA called off its first ceasefire.

Ms O’Sullivan, who at the time worked as a nurse in the accident and emergency department at Limerick Regional Hospital, said:

I was off work that day and I got a phone call from a colleague of mine…she said I’ve bad news for you.I just got up from bed and went straight out to the hospital, and then I heard all the bad news, that Jerry had passed away and Ben was in Resus.

“You can imagine it was crazy… It was horrendous,” she added.

McCabe’s daughter Stacey, wept as she paid tribute to her late father.

“In the midst of sadness, we pray for thanksgiving for the inspiration and example we received in and through Dad,” she said.

We pray in thanksgiving for the love, light, and laughter he brought to our lives.

An emotional Ben O’Sullivan explained that he and Garda McCabe joined the detective branch on the same day and nearly always “worked as a team”.

“This morning’s ceremony has brought me to my knees really,” he said, adding that the shooting in 1996 was still “crystal clear in my head”.

You’re never expected to forget something like that. You’re not supposed to forget that. You’re supposed to take up the gauntlet and accept that it happened; you cannot turn the clock backwards.

He said he had “come to terms” with “the atrocity that took place this morning 20 years ago”, but “will never forget what happened”.

Four men were convicted of the manslaughter of McCabe, they are: Jeremiah Sheehy, Michael O’Neill, Kevin Walsh and Pearse McAuley.

All four were subsequently released after serving their sentence with McAuley last year jailed again for 12 years following a violent assault on his wife in which she was left with 13 stab wounds.

Speaking in the Dail in 2013, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams issued an apology on behalf of the republican movement for the death of Gerry McCabe and other Irish security forces who died during the Northern Ireland conflict.

- With reporting from David Raleigh. 

Read: Adams: ‘An awful lot of us might have to say we’re sorry for a whole lot of things’ >

Read: McGuinness says comments over garda killings were ‘absolutely wrong’ >

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