Following a meeting in Adare yesterday, the Garda Representative Association national executive said the statement by PSNI chief Hugh Orde that the Northern Bank robbery was the work of the IRA endorsed the view of the association that the killers of Det McCabe should be treated as criminals and murderers.
Det McCabe’s widow Ann attended yesterday’s meeting, which was the first time the GRA gathered outside of Dublin.
Despite a written Government assurance four years ago that there would be no early release for the four, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said before Christmas an early release is up for negotiation.
GRA general secretary PJ Stone said Mr Ahern and Justice Minister Michael McDowell had given a commitment to inform the organisation of any decision to release the killers.
“If that were to happen, we would then organise an appropriate assembly and we would advise our members accordingly,” he said.
Det McCabe was shot dead and his colleague Ben O’Sullivan seriously wounded in a botched post office robbery in Adare, Co Limerick, in June 1996. Although the IRA initially denied involvement, four republicans were later convicted of manslaughter.
Fine Gael yesterday called on the Government to reverse its ‘ill-judged’ decision to release the killers of Det McCabe following Mr Orde’s claims.
“This was a concession which he (Mr Ahern) granted to Sinn Féin while their IRA colleagues were putting the finishing touches to the plan for the biggest robbery in the history of Ireland and Britain,” Senator Brian Hayes said.
The Labour Party said the revelations proved the two governments were hoodwinked by Sinn Féin.
“Once again the IRA has demonstrated its reckless disregard, if not utter contempt, for the obligations imposed on the parties to the proposed agreement,” said leader Pat Rabbitte.