Killer McAuley's wife pleaded for his early release
The wife of IRA man Pearse McAuley wrote a series of letters to the then Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, seeking the early release of her husband and the other killers of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe. Mr Ahern refused Pauline Tully's appeals in correspondence which has now been released to the Sunday Independent.
McAuley was eventually freed in 2009, having served his full sentence with remission, but is now back in prison for a vicious attack on his by then estranged wife in 2014. He stabbed Ms Tully 13 times with a steak knife, broke four of her fingers and told the couple's young sons to "say goodbye" to their mother during the sustained three-and-a-half-hour attack on Christmas Eve 2014.
The couple married in 2003, when McAuley was serving 14 years for McCabe's manslaughter. Ms Tully, then a Sinn Fein councillor in Cavan, had visited the McCabe killers in Castlerea Prison as a party representative.
On September 5, 2005, she wrote to Mr Ahern "both as a Sinn Fein politician, but also as a wife, to ask you to release all remaining IRA prisoners".
Using her married name of Pauline McAuley, she wrote: "My husband is one of 16 prisoners still in jail. History tells us that the conclusion of conflict leads to the release of prisoners of war."
Referring to Michael McDowell, she told Mr Ahern: "While I would not expect a positive response from the Minister for Justice, I hope you will give it serious consideration."
More than six months later, on March 27, 2006, an official in the Office of the Taoiseach replied: "The Taoiseach has asked me to say that in relation to those individuals convicted of the killing of Garda Jerry McCabe and the wounding of Garda Ben O'Sullivan, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice have made the Government's position quite clear.
"None of those serving sentences in relation to these crimes qualify for early release under the Good Friday Agreement. There is no prospect of this changing."
On May 10, 2006, Ms Tully wrote to Mr Ahern again, seeking their temporary release.
She wrote: "I dispute your claim that the people convicted for the manslaughter of Garda Jerry McCabe do not qualify for early release. The courts ruled that their release was at the discretion of the Minister for Justice, over whom you have authority, therefore [you] could release [them] if you so wish. I firmly believe these men should be released permanently. However, in the meantime, some short time with their families would help make their situation some [sic] bearable."
On September 4, 2006, the Taoiseach's office replied that Mr Ahern did "not have any direct responsibility for authorising temporary release", and that her letter had been forwarded to Mr McDowell as Justice Minister.
The correspondence in this report was released by the Department of the Taoiseach at the behest of the Information Commissioner, after the department had refused a Freedom of Information request and an appeal.
The Director of Public Prosecutions is to appeal against McAuley's sentence of 12 years, four of which were suspended, for the attack on Ms Tully, on the basis that it was unduly lenient.
The case is due to be heard in November.