Monday, 4th March, RTÉ One, 7.30pm
In the early morning of June 7th 1996, Detective Garda Jerry McCabe was killed during an attempted robbery by an IRA gang in the picturesque village of Adare in County Limerick. He was the last member of the Gardaí to be shot dead before the killing of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe in Lordship County Louth earlier this year. Both men were killed while on cash escort duty.
While speaking in the Dáil in the wake of the recent killing, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD made an unexpected apology to Jerry McCabe's family and to his widow, Ann McCabe, as well as to retired Garda Ben O'Sullivan, who was injured in the Adare attack. In this episode of SCANNAL, Ann McCabe gives her reaction to Mr. Adam's apology.
"My reaction to what Gerry Adams had to say is absolute disgust. The audacity of him to stand up in the Dáil to use me and my family as a pawn to apologise after seventeen years the day that that man [Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe] was lying dead outside. What was his agenda?"
Jerry McCabe's name and the story of his brutal killing has been catapulted into the headlines many times over the years since June 1996. The case has remained at the centre of political controversy and public debate.
SCANNAL recounts the events of that fateful day and traces their impact up to the present.
The trial in 1999 of the five IRA men arrested in connection with the killing, caused public outcry, when four of the men were convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter rather than capital murder. After the trial Ann McCabe spoke publicly of her dissatisfaction with the sentences. She also later criticised the transfer of the prisoners from the high- security Portlaoise prison to Castlerea prison.
Mrs.McCabe continually spoke out against the possibility of early release for the killers, as part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. At first, the Irish Government clearly stated that those particular prisoners would not qualify for early release. But Sinn Féin continued to push for their release. In 2004, Gerry Adams claimed on The Late Late Show that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern had previously agreed the early release of the men, as part of a wider deal that would include IRA decommissioning. In the end, no deal happened. The men were not released until they had served their full sentences with remission.
There were some during this time, including the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland, who questioned whether there were double standards involved when, as part of the Good Friday Agreement, those imprisoned for killing police officers in Northern Ireland were released but the same did not happen, in all cases, in the Republic. But throughout all this, Ann McCabe continued to speak out, going so far as to confront Gerry Adams at a meeting of his supporters in New York at one point.
This latest episode of SCANNAL recalls how the shots that rang out in Adare on June 7th 1996 killing Detective Jerry McCabe, not only left a family in mourning, but their echoes reverberated through Irish public life for years afterwards.
Presenter / Reporter: Padraig O'Driscoll
Produced & Directed by: Colm Kirwan