THE garda officer who survived the IRA gun attack that claimed the life of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe said history has repeated itself.
Retired detective Ben O'Sullivan (68) miraculously survived after he was shot 11 times as he sat beside his slain colleague in an unmarked squad car in Adare, Co Limerick, in 1996.
Mr O'Sullivan made a rare visit to Henry Street garda station in Limerick to sign a book of condolence after Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe's murder last Friday.
Entering his old station, Mr O'Sullivan was overcome with emotion when he saw the bronze bust to Jerry McCabe.
He said the murder of Det Gda Donohoe was as dark a day as Det Gda McCabe's death.
Derek Deloughrey – the brother of Caroline Donohoe (Det Gda Donohoe's widow) – works as a sergeant at the Limerick city station.
"I'd like to extend my sympathies to the entire Donohoe family and all associated with them," Mr O'Sullivan said.
"Caroline's brother is stationed here and forgive me for being a small bit tear-jerked, but more has happened than I had foreseen.
"When I came in and saw Jerry's bust, it was history repeating itself really," Mr O'Sullivan said. "My heart is very much with both families – Adrian Donohoe's and Joe Ryan's."
After murdering Det Gda Donohoe, the gang warned Det Gda Ryan he would be shot too if he attempted to intervene.
Seventeen years ago, Mr O'Sullivan was airlifted to hospital as he fought for his life after his partner died.
"I hope that he (Det Gda Ryan) will recover as good as I have. I'm so delighted to have recovered as well as I did and far better than I ever expected – honestly that is the truth of it.
"It is a tear-jerking exercise this morning. It is as sad a day as I have spent since poor Jerry passed away. No words from me would adequately condemn this barbaric crime."
He said he had hoped the dark days of garda officers being murdered were consigned to the past. "It will be 17 years on June 26. I hope that it might be finished for good. Let's hope this is the last one.
"And a message to those that are the instigators of this – please let the people of this country live. Let the Garda Siochana live.
"The Garda Siochana are protecting the people of this country and they should be allowed to continue to do it in the marvellous way they have since 1922," Mr O'Sullivan said.
In 2000, Mr O'Sullivan became the first garda officer ever to receive the Scott Medal for bravery twice – an achievement unprecedented in garda history.
He received his first medal in 1994 for disarming a gunman on Hyde Road in Limerick.
Mr O'Sullivan retired from the force in February 2001.
Yesterday he was joined by Ann McCabe – Det Gda McCabe's widow – and members of the McCabe family.
Det Gda McCabe's brother, Mike, said it was a situation they never wanted to be in again."It's not very nice to be standing here again with a copycat situation," he said.
"We thought all the broken hearts were mended but it seems there's a hell of a lot more broken hearts out there.
"Our hearts and the hearts of the McCabe family and our love are with the Donohoe family because we know exactly what they are going through," Mr McCabe added.