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Sunday 25 June 2017

'Ceremony has brought me to my knees,' says McCabe's garda partner

Family and colleagues of slain Detective Garda Jerry McCabe remember fateful day 20 years ago

Retired Detective Garda Ben O'Sullivan outside the Garda Station in Adare, Co Limerick Photo: Brian Gavin/Press 22
Retired Detective Garda Ben O'Sullivan outside the Garda Station in Adare, Co Limerick Photo: Brian Gavin/Press 22

David Raleigh

Retired Detective Garda Ben O'Sullivan has said a ceremony marking 20 years since the brutal IRA killing of his colleague and friend Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, "brought me to my knees".

Det Gda O'Sullivan, who miraculously survived the gun attack despite being shot 11 times, said the details of the morning of June 7, 1996, are still "crystal clear in my head".

He joined Anne McCabe, widow of Det Garda McCabe, at a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the killing.

Breaking down as he replayed the shocking details of that fateful day in his head, he said: "This ceremony has brought me to my knees, really.

Stacy and Ann McCabe (right) at the ceremony Photo: Brian Gavin/Press 22
Stacy and Ann McCabe (right) at the ceremony Photo: Brian Gavin/Press 22

"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 that while he had "come to terms" with the atrocity, he would "never forget what happened".

"Jerry and myself joined the detective branch in 1973, on the same day, and, for the length of time we served in the Garda Síochána after that, I could safely say that there was scarcely a day we were separated because we worked as a team.

The late Detective Garda Jerry McCabe
The late Detective Garda Jerry McCabe

"Wherever you saw Jerry you saw me. Regrettably, today you see me without Jerry."

He added: "A smile is useless unless you give it away. Every time I saw Jerry a smile was evident, and that's a comforting (memory)."

The two gardaí were providing an escort for a post office delivery van in Adare, Co Limerick, when their car was riddled with bullets.

Four IRA members were convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter, while two other members of the gang are still on the run.

Chief Superintendent Dave Sheahan lays a wreath Photo: Brian Gavin/Press 22
Chief Superintendent Dave Sheahan lays a wreath Photo: Brian Gavin/Press 22

Yesterday, a minute's silence was held on the same street in Adare at 6.55am as senior gardaí and neighbours, friends and the family of the victims laid a wreath and flowers.

The Garda Band played a beautiful rendition of 'Nearer My God To Thee', one of Det Gda McCabe's favourite hymns, and one which was played at his funeral.

Det Gda O'Sullivan would not comment on whether or not he believed justice was served for his friend's killing.

However, he said: "The law was applied to those people by the reliable court in this country, that I had great confidence in at the time, and always will have."

He added that serving gardaí attending the ceremony "must derive an enormous amount of consolation, and support, and confidence, that their colleagues - who are their predecessors - are today remembering Jerry in the most appropriate way that they possibly can."

"They can take solace, from the loyalty and the friendship ... I'm extremely proud to be one of those members.

"I think they put the shoulder to the wheel every time the wheel is presented to them.

"I am as good as I am, because of each and every one of those people that you hear and see today, and those who are unable to be here today."

Speaking after the ceremony, Ann McCabe said: "For me, today is the same as 20 years ago. Nothing ever changes ... but you learn to live with it and get on with it."

Det Gda O'Sullivan's wife Anne said the ceremony "brought back every hour of this time 20 years ago ... It brought tears".

Irish Independent

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