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Thursday 8 December 2016

20 years later, this toxic creed still makes widows

Paul Williams

Published 07/06/2016 | 02:30

Adrian Donohoe: his killers came from south Armagh. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson.
Adrian Donohoe: his killers came from south Armagh. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson.

Ann McCabe is probably one of the few who can genuinely feel the crushing, debilitating sorrow bearing down on the widows of two brave gardaí Adrian Donohoe and Tony Golden, who, like her husband, were gunned down without mercy.

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She has lived with the same loneliness and pain of suddenly being left to rear a family without a loving husband to share the ups and downs of normal life.

When Ann McCabe confronted Gerry Adams in New York and asked why he wanted her husband's IRA killers released from prison, he responded with a customary glib answer about sharing her pain.

But unlike Adams, Ann McCabe genuinely feels the pain endured by Caroline Donohoe and Nicola Golden.

At 6.50am, 20 years ago this morning, an IRA gang led by Kevin Walsh, a hardened terrorist bank robber, ambushed Jerry McCabe and his colleague Ben O'Sullivan as they escorted a cash delivery truck.

Walsh - a close confidante of Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Martin Ferris - fired 15 rounds from his AK47 at the two detectives. Jerry McCabe died instantly when he was hit by three of the bullets, while Ben O'Sullivan was critically injured after being shot 11 times.

Walsh was later jailed after pleading not guilty to murder but guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

However, Ann McCabe has expressed her fervent belief - and that of her husband's colleagues - that her husband was deliberately murdered by the IRA.

While the nightmare may have eased with the passing of time, it came back to haunt her following the murders in Co Louth of Adrian Donohoe in January 2013 and Tony Golden in October 2015.

Apart from the fact that the three gardaí were all the victims of gunmen, there is another common thread that connects these events: the spectre of violent republicanism.

Adrian Donohoe was shot dead by a gang of armed robbers as he was escorting the collection of cash from a Credit Union in Lordship on the Cooley Peninsula in January 2013. The thugs responsible are from south Armagh, the spiritual home of all republican terrorists.

The killers come from staunch republican families and have been effectively protected from the law within the boundaries of this lawless geographical enclave.

And last October, Garda Tony Golden was shot dead in Omeath - also on the Cooley Peninsula - by a dissident republican called Adrian Crevan Mackin, a volatile criminal who had been running around south Armagh with gangs from the Continuity IRA and Real IRA.

The officer was there to ensure the safety of Mackin's partner, Siobhán Philips, while she collected her things. Mackin also shot and seriously injured his former girlfriend before turning the gun on himself.

The common denominator between the murders of three gardaí over two decades, is that they are ultimately the result of the toxic effect of violent republicanism.

Today will also conjure up the memories of murdered colleagues within An Garda Síochána, an organisation that has paid a heavy price standing up to terrorism.

The memory of Jerry McCabe will not only evoke the recent tragic deaths - but also those of the 11 other gardaí who have been murdered by republican terrorism since 1970.

Irish Independent

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