By David Raleigh
The late Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, who was murdered in cold blood by an IRA gang, during a robbery of Adare post office in Co Limerick, in June 1996, is to be bestowed with a posthumous Freedom of Limerick City award, later this month.
It was 6.55am, June 7th, 1996, when Det McCabe, native of Ballylongford, Co Kerry, and his partner in the special branch unit in Henry Street, Limerick, Det Gda Ben O'Sullivan, were targeted in a hail of automatic gunfire, as both officers provided an early morning armed escort for a mail delivery van.
McCabe died instantly when a bullet from an AK47 machine gun severed his spine as he sat in the Garda car.
O'Sullivan was shot 11 times, but miraculously survived.
During a special meeting of Limerick City and County Council this afternoon, members unanimously agreed to grant the Freedom of Limerick to the two brave gardai.
The honorary title is the highest accolade that can be bestowed upon an individual by the local authority, and is reserved for those who have made exceptional or unique contributions to the common good.
"Both men are being honoured for their bravery in the carrying out of the duties on behalf of the people of Limerick and Ireland and as a token of the high esteem and affection in which they are held by the people of Limerick," said a council spokesman.
Speaking about the decision to confer the award, his wife Ann McCabe said: "I'd like to thank the Council for doing this, and id like to thank the people of Limerick for standing with me and my family for the past 22 years.
"I feel very honoured but very humbled that the Council have deemed to honour Jerry and Ben in such a big way.
"I think it's wonderful for our family's but it is very poignant as well."
In 2014, Limerick native, President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, was conferred with the honour in recognition of his outstanding achievement as President, and for his considerable contribution to the social, academic, cultural and artistic life at home and abroad.
Others who have received it include Munster legend Paul O’Connell; suffragette and Irish patriot Maud Gonne; Pope John Paull II; horse racing tycoon and philanthropist JP McManus; as well as former US Presidents John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton.
The Freedom of Limerick ceremony for Det McCabe and Det O'Sullivan will take place at Istabraq Hall, Council Headquarters, Merchant’s Quay, Limerick, on Thursday 28 June 2018 at 6pm.