By Donal Hickey
THE widow of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe yesterday refused an offer of ‘immense sympathy’ from Kerry mayor Toireasa Ferris of Sinn Féin.
On The Late Late Show on Friday night, Ms Ferris refused to condemn the shooting dead of Det Garda McCabe in Adare, Co Limerick, in 1996, and again yesterday turned down a call from Anne McCabe to condemn her husband’s killing.
The women clashed yesterday when they took part on a Radio Kerry programme. Ms Ferris, aged 25, a daughter of Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris, said she was a very young teenager when Jerry McCabe died.
"It wouldn’t be fair to condemn one individual action when over 3,000 were killed. I don’t feel I have the right, or that it would be fair to condemn one individual act," she told presenter John Greene.
"I have immense sympathy for the McCabe family, but I am very fortunate. I can’t empathise with her. I visited my father in jail for 10 years. I could have been visiting a grave and I wasn’t, and I feel very fortunate for that.
"I am very genuine when I say I have immense sympathy for her and all the other families who lost people throughout the struggle ... I genuinely believe there was no intention to kill Jerry McCabe."
Martin Ferris served a 10-year sentence after being caught gunrunning, in 1984, and she compared his actions to the attempted gunrunning off the Kerry coast by Roger Casement, in 1916.
Ms Ferris said she did not agree with a lot of things that happened during the struggle.
"But I’m not going to say I condemn everything that happened because I can, as an Irish republican, understand why people felt compelled to take up arms in defence of their people."
Anne McCabe said a condemnation would not bring her husband back "but at least they (Sinn Féin) should have the decency to speak up and speak the truth, but then again you don’t get the truth from them".
Ms McCabe also said she and her family had received repeated assurances her husband’s killers would not be released early.
"I’m absolutely convinced they will not be released under any agreement. We have gotten confirmation from the last and the current Ministers for Justice and from the Taoiseach," she said.
Fine Gael, meanwhile, is to consider tabling a no confidence motion on Ms Ferris at next Monday’s meeting of Kerry County Council.
Independent councillor Brendan Cronin yesterday said he would support such a motion, saying he was appalled at her refusal to condemn the killing of Mr McCabe.
However, Sinn Féin has the support of FF in the council and a no confidence motion would almost certainly be defeated.
Also yesterday, Ms Ferris claimed she had been misled into agreeing to the Late Late interview.
She said she understood she was being invited onto the show to talk about her childhood and her grandmother.
Meanwhile, Kerry Today producer Treasa Murphy said they received about 150 calls and text messages during the programme and reaction to Ms Ferris’s refusal to condemn the killing was "very mixed".