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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 07:42 GMT 08:42 UK
IRA garda killer freed from jail
Johnny Caldwell
BBC News website

Jerry McCabe
Garda Jerry McCabe was killed in Adare, County Limerick, in 1996
One of four men jailed in connection with the killing of Garda Jerry McCabe has been released from prison.

Michael O'Neill was imprisoned in Castlerea Prison along with Pearse McAuley, Kevin Walsh and Jeremiah Sheehy in 1999 on manslaughter charges.

Garda McCabe was shot 14 times during a bungled IRA robbery in Adare, County Limerick, in 1996.

His widow Ann told the BBC News website it was "too soon" to speak about the release.

O'Neill and his co-accused also received concurrent terms over charges of maliciously wounding of Garda McCabe's colleague, Ben O'Sullivan.

The first of the quartet to be released was involved in the preparation of the raid but did not fire the fatal shots.

This is obviously a very difficult time for Ann
Reatha Hassan

He has been given a standard remission of 25% for good behaviour off his 11-year sentence.

Reatha Hassan of County Armagh vicitms' group SAVER/NAVER, who got to know Mrs McCabe through her work with the Irish Peace Institute said: "This is obviously a very difficult time for Ann.

"She has been a great friend to our group and she's in our thoughts and prayers."

In 2004, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams revealed that Garda McCabe's killers were to have been released the previous year, as part of a deal to restore Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive.

Speaking at the time, Mr Adams said: "Release of the Castlerea prisoners was part of an agreed sequence of statements and actions."

Republicans have long argued that O'Neill, McAuley, Walsh and Sheehy should have been released under the Good Friday Agreement.

Adams confirms release 'deal'
11 May 04 |  Northern Ireland
'Plan' to set Garda killers free
07 May 04 |  Northern Ireland
Garda's killers 'must not be freed'
24 Dec 01 |  Northern Ireland

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