Ferris 'hiding the killers of McCabe'
THE Provisional movement's most senior figure in the South, Martin Ferris, last night came under government attack for refusing to help gardai find the killers of Jerry McCabe.
Det Garda McCabe was shot dead by an IRA gang planning to hold up a post-office van at Adare, Co Limerick, in June 1996.
On the 10th anniversary of the garda's murder, Mr Ferris said he would not inform on any IRA members still at large and wanted for the shooting.
His comments in an interview on Radio Kerry yesterday morning provoked outrage within the Government.
The Kerry Sinn Fein TD was accused by Defence Minister Willie O'Dea of striking the word "justice" forever from the Sinn Fein vocabulary.
Mr O'Dea said it seemed the only circumstances where Sinn Fein was against crime was when it was being committed by someone who did not support the party and where it did not require its members to support the gardai.
"Since the signing of the Good Friday agreement, we have waited for Sinn Fein to finally decide if it is a political party or just a political wing. Martin Ferris now makes it clear that they barely even qualify as a political wing," he added.
In the immediate aftermath of the murder, Mr O'Dea pointed out, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams had said the killing had no place in the "republican struggle". But the stomach-churning comments of Mr Ferris showed how hypocritical Mr Adams had been and how Garda McCabe's killers now had a cherished place in the heart of Sinn Fein.
Progressive Democrats senator John Minihan said he could not accept the claims made by Mr Ferris that he was entirely ignorant of the circumstances of the killing.
Referring to Mr Adams' claim that the shooting had been sanctioned by an "authorised" person within the IRA but not at the highest level, Mr Minihan said both Mr Adams and Mr Ferris had an obligation to name the "authorised officer".
Mr Minihan added: "The Irish people deserve better and it saddens me that some are willing to put up with this two-fingered salute from the double act of Adams and Ferris."
He hoped those with any power to influence public opinion would unite in an effort to make Sinn Fein face up to its responsibilities.
Mr Ferris admitted during his radio interview that he was a personal friend of Kevin Walsh, the gang leader and the man alleged to have opened fire on the garda car manned by Jerry McCabe and his colleague Ben O'Sullivan, who was seriously wounded.
Mr Ferris and other Sinn Fein TDs were subsequently photographed with the McCabe killers in The Grove bungalow complex within Castlerea prison.
He said his jail visit was part of the peace process, strictly for political reasons and done "with the approval and support of the Department of Justice".
He disapproved strongly of Garda McCabe's death, he added, but . It should not have happened but he could not condemn it, or the IRA. He refused to describe the garda's killers as criminals. He viewed them as "IRA activists".
He insisted he had responded truthfully and honestly when he told Garda McCabe's widow, Ann, that he had no information to offer her.
"I have been an IRA volunteer in my lifetime. I have been a victim of a person who informed on me. I would never betray that loyalty to an organisation to which I once belonged."