THE IRA commander who sanctioned the robbery which led to the murder of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe in 1996 is no longer officially "wanted" by gardai, the Irish Independent can reveal.
The veteran terrorist, who was the Officer Commanding of the IRA's Southern Brigade at the time, fled the country shortly after the botched robbery in Adare, Co Limerick.
Two years later, a warrant was issued for the arrest of the senior IRA man on charges of IRA member- ship as a direct result of the McCabe murder investigation.
Senior gardai believe the terrorist, who was in charge of all IRA units in the south in 1996, personally sanctioned the robbery.
Detectives located CCTV footage showing him meeting with members of the killer gang on the morning of the attack which left Jerry McCabe dead and his partner, Ben O'Sullivan, critically injured.
The terrorist chief, a native of Belfast who had been living for several years in Tallaght, Dublin, was previously charged with membership of the IRA, but the charges were later dropped.
At the time, gardai still had the option to seek either another warrant or a European arrest warrant in order to have him extradited back to Ireland from Spain, where he has been living since.
However, the Irish Independent has learnt that the gardai no longer intend proceeding with the charges against him.
Solicitors for the terrorist contacted Garda HQ in recent years requesting assurances that their client was no longer a wanted man and was free to return to Dublin.
It is understood that following a review of the file, gardai confirmed that he was not on their wanted list. His status came to light when the Irish Independent made enquiries following the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe.
It is understood that the senior IRA figure, who is now in his late 50s, has made a number of "low key" visits to Dublin and Belfast in recent years.
Following the McCabe murder, he was sacked from his position by the IRA army council in a bid to offset the universal public revulsion at the crime.
Nine years ago, most of the former IRA man's associates were also sacked from the organisation amid allegations that they had been "misappropriating" funds from criminal rackets.
The sacked IRA chief and his associates have since aligned themselves to the Real IRA.