'Evil crimes' | 

Garda Jerry McCabe’s widow slams Mary Lou McDonald’s comments on IRA and gangland violence

"The IRA were up to their eyes in murder and carnage, my view will never change," she told BBC Radio Ulster's The Nolan Show.

Ann McCabe, widow of Jerry McCabe, during a service in Dubhlinn Gardens at Dublin Castle where a new memorial garden was unveiled in honour of fallen gardai.© PA

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has been criticised for her stance on IRA violence. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Gabija Gataveckaite and Seoirse MulgrewIndependent.ie

The widow of a garda shot dead by the IRA in 1996 has criticised comments by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald that there was "no comparison" between the IRA and gangland violence.

Garda Jerry McCabe was killed, and his colleague was injured, during an armed raid on a post office van in Adare, Co Limerick.

Four Provisional IRA members were convicted of the manslaughter of Mr McCabe.

Ms McDonald has been criticised by families of IRA victims for her comments that there is “no comparison” between IRA and gangland violence.

Mr McCabe's widow Ann criticised Ms McDonald's remarks.

"The IRA were up to their eyes in murder and carnage, my view will never change," she told BBC Radio Ulster's The Nolan Show.

"They are trying to get the new generation round to their way of thinking. My husband wasn't part of the Troubles at all. He was escorting money, as was his partner Ben O'Sullivan, who has sadly since passed away."

Mrs McCabe said the Provisional IRA changed her life and her family's life forever.

"Life will never be the same again. I have wonderful friends and family and grandkids - they keep me going but Jerry will never leave my mind,” she said.

"Not a day goes by that I don't think of him."

Ann McCabe, widow of Garda Jerry McCabe who was murdered by the IRA in 1996. Thursday 2 February 2006. Photo: Niall Carson / PA© PA

Úna Heaton, the sister-in-law of Garda McCabe, said on Sunday there is no difference between “evil crimes” whether they come from the IRA or gangland violence.

“Violence and murder is violence and murder no matter if it’s perpetrated by ordinary criminals or IRA criminals, they are both evil crimes,” Ms Heaton told Independent.ie.

“The problem with Sinn Féin/IRA is that they feel they have the right to create carnage, murder, mayhem and enormous damage by the slaughter of innocent men, women and children.”

Her comments were echoed by former senator and IRA abuse victim Máiría Cahill, who said IRA crimes “were worse”.

“The IRA was worse both in its intensity and in its scale of harm caused to people than any gang in the modern Western world,” said Ms Cahill.

“If she can’t see that, this country has a serious problem if they ever put her anywhere near the Taoiseach’s chair.”

Fine Gael also strongly criticised Ms McDonald’s remarks, with TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill calling them “deeply disturbing”.

“All violence, no matter who committed it or why, is wrong. That was the view of John Hume and it is not going to be retrospectively painted out of Irish history no matter how hard Sinn Féin try to justify and legitimise the actions of murderers and terrorists. It was never justified,” said Ms Carroll MacNeill.

The Sinn Féin leader made the comments on Newstalk’s On The Record with Gavan Reilly.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has been criticised for her stance on IRA violence. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Ms McDonald said former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher coined the phrase “crime is crime”.

“Margaret Thatcher coined that phrase so if you’re of that mind, you’re of that mind,” Ms McDonald said.

“The things that happened in the course of a very long political conflict – which thank God is now long over, we’ve had 25 years of peace – there is no comparison between that and the kind of challenge, and it is an ongoing challenge, to our society between this and the so-called gangland crime epidemic poses.

“I say that as somebody who represents fine communities, the best of people, for whom this is a daily scourge.”

The Dublin TD, whose party Ard Fheis took place this weekend, said she first found out about former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall’s links to criminality in 2016 when he was arrested after he waterboarded a man.

Ms McDonald said she wouldn’t have had him in her party if she was aware of his links to criminality.

“Had I had even an inkling that he was involved in any form of criminality, much less than what he was now accused of, he wouldn’t have been within a roar of me or within Sinn Féin,” she said.

The ex-councillor is now a State witness in the Regency Hotel murder trial after pleading guilty to helping facilitate the murder of David Byrne.

“The first I knew of any of this was when he had been arrested for a different offence. And I was very, very shocked by that,” Ms McDonald said.

“Prior to that he had been a person running a very successful business, with very high-level contracts, employing a lot of people. And certainly there wouldn’t have been any indication for me or for anybody else that he would be involved in this type of activity.”

Ms McDonald also said a €1,000 donation Mr Dowdall made to the party was most likely used for election purposes. She said the donation was made to the Dublin Central constituency. Sipo records show he gave Ms McDonald a cheque for €1,000 in 2011.

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