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Friday, January 26, 2007
THE widow of Garda Jerry McCabe, who was murdered by the IRA, said yesterday she would applaud Sinn Féin if they signed up to policing in Northern Ireland.
Anne McCabe, an arch-critic of the republican movement since her husband was shot dead in a botched Provisional IRA bank raid more than a decade ago, said such a move would draw a line under the past.
"It would be historic. I would be all for it. But to be honest with you, I can’t see that happening. But I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt — my husband always did," she said.
Garda McCabe, a Special Branch detective, was gunned down without warning as he sat in a garda car with his colleague Ben O’Sullivan on June 7, 1996.
The men were escorting a security van in Adare, Co Limerick, when an IRA man armed with an assault rifle opened fire on them during an aborted robbery.
Mrs McCabe maintains she will never get over the death of her husband. Her loss — along with so many others — is regularly intruded upon by developments in the peace process.
"It will always be painful. Make no mistake about that — I’ll never get over it. It’s just the fact that it has been on the table, brought backwards and forwards because of the Good Friday Agreement and that."
Only weeks ago Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness called once more for the early release of Garda McCabe’s killers during a republican commemoration in the detective’s home town.
While Mrs McCabe recognises the pain of RUC widows who had to watch their husbands’ murderers walk free under the peace accord, she clings to the assurance by the Irish Government that Garda McCabe’s killers will serve their time.
She remains deeply suspicious about Sinn Féin’s involvement with the gang who gunned down her husband and about their motives in peace negotiations.
"The people who killed Jerry were on the run for two years. Who funded them when they were on the run? They were visited while they were on the run, as well, by senior members of Sinn Féin.
"When Gerry Adams was asked to speak about this, he said it was somebody making mischief and then he went on to say it hadn’t been sanctioned (by the IRA leadership) and then, eventually, that it was authorised from a lower level. We have our own ideas as to who the lower level was.
"I wouldn’t have any trust in the republican movement. They’re always unwilling to answer straight questions."
But in a remarkable gesture, Garda McCabe’s widow confessed she would give the republican leaders credit if the movement backs policing.
"If we are to have peace, they have to recognise all parts of the law — that includes the PSNI as well as the gardaí. It would be momentous and I would applaud them if that is the way they are going," she said.
"They have to embrace police, they have to. But not on their terms. They have to embrace them on the terms of any police force. Do they recognise the gardaí down here in the south? I don’t know. Do they recognise Special Branch, which my husband was a member of?"
She says if Sinn Féin backs the PSNI, she, for one, is willing to draw a line under the past.
"If they unequivocally say yes, we do accept the rule of law and we do accept the police service in Northern Ireland, then maybe, hopefully, we will be able to move on."
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