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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 May, 2004, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
McCabe family 'trust pledges'
Jerry McCabe
Garda Jerry McCabe was killed in County Limerick
The family of Irish police officer Jerry McCabe has said it trusts the Irish Government over its pledges in relation to his killers' early release.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams confirmed the killers were to be released as part of a deal to restore Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive last year.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Bertie Ahern defended the move in the Irish parliament.

He said the releases were conditional on the IRA decommissioning and an end of paramilitarism.

Detective McCabe was killed and another officer wounded during an attempted robbery at Adare in County Limerick in June 1996.

Four men were later convicted of his manslaughter and Sinn Fein has been calling for their release under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Last Friday, sources told the BBC that the Irish Government agreed to the prison release as part of the deal to restore the devolved assembly at Stormont in October 2003.

The men are held in Castlerea prison in County Roscommon.

The undertakings given by government were sealed with the lifeblood of a guardian of the law cruelly slain in the performance of his duties
McCabe family statement

A statement issued on Wednesday on behalf of Detective McCabe's widow Ann said: "The sole consolation for the pain, anguish and bottomless sense of loss which has been constantly revisited on the McCabe family by the repeated resurrection of the murder in Adare of a husband, father and guardian of the law is the solemn undertaking given by most senior figures in government.

"Because of its trust in the integrity of the pledges formally given by government that the rulings of the recognised lawful courts of the land would be complied with, the McCabe family refrains from and continues to refrain from all comment and statements other than its trust that the pledges made by government will be honoured.

"As the undertakings given by government were sealed with the lifeblood of a guardian of the law, cruelly slain in the performance of his duties on behalf of the civil power, the position of the McCabe family is unchanged."

'Significant concession'

Meanwhile, the Irish deputy prime minister, Mary Harney, has said that the release of the men would not be considered except in circumstances in which paramilitary activities had come to a complete end and that the IRA was stood down forever.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio on Wednesday, she said those circumstances would also have to include the implementation of all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement and the completion of paramilitary decommissioning.

She added that those circumstances were still far away.

Speaking in Dublin on Tuesday, Mr Adams said: "Release of the Castlerea prisoners was part of an agreed sequence of statements and actions."

He told reporters: "I am very mindful that the release of the Castlerea prisoners is a sensitive issue and I am especially mindful of the plight of the McCabe family and Mrs McCabe.

"But you asked me if the release of prisoners was part of this agreed sequence. The answer is yes."

Gerry Adams:
Gerry Adams: "Release was part of agreed sequence"
The release of the four men would have been seen as a significant concession to republicans.

A potential deal to move the Northern Ireland political process forward stalled over the issue of IRA weapons.

Unionists complained that not enough information had been provided on the IRA's third act of decommissioning.

The killing of Garda McCabe happened four months after the breakdown of the first IRA ceasefire in 1996 and initially the IRA denied any involvement.

It later admitted that individual members were involved - the IRA said "in contravention of its orders".

Since last October Sinn Fein have been demanding that the British and Irish Governments implement what was agreed.

The BBC's Shane Harrison reports
""The McCabe family said the pledge given by the government was sealed with the lifeblood of a guardian of the law"

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