A Garda detective murdered by an IRA gang as he escorted a cash delivery van in Co Limerick is to be posthumously awarded the freedom of the city later this month.
Jerry McCabe died in a hail of automatic gunfire as he sat in a police vehicle outside an Adare post office in June 1996.
His partner detective Ben O’Sullivan, who was shot 11 times but survived, is also being honoured at the special ceremony in Limerick Council headquarters on June 28.
The killers made off in a stolen car but no money was taken during the robbery attempt.
Four men were convicted of manslaughter and given lengthy prison sentences.
Sinn Fein initially denied IRA involvement but later said it was carried out by IRA members without the Provos’ ‘army council’ having authorised the robbery.
There was unanimous agreement when the council voted in favour of bestowing the honour on the two men, with none of the six Sinn Fein councillors objecting.
Mr McCabe’s widow, Ann McCabe, said her family was “humbled and proud” at the award.
“We had his anniversary mass recently and now he is being given the freedom of the city of Limerick which is a great honour. As a family we feel very humbled but also very proud of both Jerry, and Ben who was with him that morning,” she told the News Letter.
Commenting on the decision of the Sinn Fein councillors to support the council motion, Mrs McCabe said: “I don’t think that they could object, if the majority of the people of Limerick see fit to bestow this wonderful honour then I don’t see why they should have any issues with it.”
Mrs McCabe, the daughter of a Garda officer, has two sons and one grandson all currently serving as police officers, and in recent years has been supported by a Lisnaskea based victims’ group.
“I am involved with the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) as well and they have been wonderful to both me and my family. The victims will never be forgotten. My husband was a hero who died for Ireland, but behind all those people who put their lives on the line there are heroes.”
The Freedom of Limerick is reserved for those who have made exceptional contributions for the common good – or those who have made outstanding contributions to the commercial, business, educational or cultural life of the city.
The pair will become the second and third people to receive the honour since the amalgamation of the two local authorities.
President Michael D Higgins was conferred with the honour in 2014 for his outstanding achievement as president and for his considerable contribution to the cultural, academic social and artistic life at home and abroad.
Prior to the amalgamation of the councils, 64 people had received the Freedom of Limerick city, including Pope John Paul II, John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton.