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Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald during her keynote speech at the party's Ard Fheis. PA
Jerry McCabe

Widow of Garda killed by IRA dismisses Sinn Fein president’s comments

Ann McCabe, whose husband Jerry McCabe was killed in 1996, said that in her view, ‘murder is murder’.

THE WIDOW OF a Garda officer killed by the IRA has dismissed comments by Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald that there is no comparison between the IRA and gangland criminals.

McDonald said she was “profoundly shocked” to learn that a former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall was involved in criminality.

Last month, Dowdall was sentenced to four years in prison for facilitating the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in 2016.

Dowdall, who turned state witness in the Regency murder trial, was also convicted of interrogating, threatening and waterboarding a man in January 2015.

McDonald said that Dowdall and members of the Provisional IRA were not comparable.

“The things that happened in the course of a very long political conflict — which, thank God, is now long over, we’ve had 25 years of peace — there is no comparison between that and the kind of challenge, and it is an ongoing challenge, to our society between this and the so-called gangland crime epidemic poses,” she told Newstalk.

Jerry McCabe was killed by the IRA in June 1996 in Co Limerick during the attempted robbery of a post office van.

His widow Ann said her view is that no matter who commits murder, that “murder is murder”.

“There is no difference between the criminal and Sinn Féin/IRA who murdered my husband,” she told the BBC’s Stephen Nolan Show.

tribute-to-gardai-killed-on-duty Ann McCabe during a 2010 service at Dublin Castle where a memorial garden was unveiled in honour of fallen gardai. PA PA

“My husband wasn’t part of the troubles at all, he had nothing to do with them, he was escorting money as was his partner Ben O’Sullivan, who has sadly died since.

“Murder to me is going up to the car they were in, shooting indiscriminately into the car, they stopped and then they started again, just to be sure.

“My view will never change, murder is murder, and the IRA were up to their eyes in murder and carnage.”

McCabe said she feels there are attempts to convince the younger generations of “their way of thinking”.

“That’s the sad reality of it,” she said.

She recalled that on the day her husband was killed, that they had been due to go on holiday in two weeks’ time.

“The van they were escorting was in front of them, the post office van … they were rammed from the back, they started shooting, Jerry died instantly, three shots went into Jerry, Ben took about 11 or 12, he was a miracle, and he knew immediately that Jerry was dead,” she said.

“That changed my life forever, and my family’s life. Life will never be the same, I have wonderful friends and wonderful family and grandkids, and they keep me going, but Jerry will never ever leave my mind. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him.”

McCabe said she is stopped in the street by people who congratulate her on speaking out about what happened to her husband.

“I was forced into doing it, I had nothing to do with politics … I was thrown in at the deep end, I felt after a while I had to speak up and say what was right, condemn the murder of my husband and many more victims of the IRA,” she added.

“They were not soldiers (the IRA), they were murderers, robbing the pensions of older people, that’s what they did.”

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