23 September 2005

Adams to make new bid for McCabe killers' release


23/09/2005 - 07:24:07

Gerry Adams will today renew his bid to have the killers of det. Garda Jerry McCabe freed from jail.

Amid a growing belief that the IRA is on the brink of finally completing its weapons destruction, the Sinn Féin President is holding talks with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin.

The meeting comes ahead of a major rally in the city centre tomorrow which has fuelled speculation that the IRA could be just days away from honouring their July 28 pledge to dump all arms after declaring their campaign was over.

During the talks Mr Adams is expected to raise the controversial case surrounding Garda McCabe's killers. He was killed during a botched IRA robbery in Co Limerick in 1996.

Four men – Kevin Walsh, Pearse McAuley, Jeremiah Sheehy and Michael O’Neill - were later convicted of his manslaughter.

Their claim to qualify for freedom under the Good Friday Agreement early-release scheme has been one of the most sensitive issues in the peace negotiations.

Although senior members of Mr Ahern’s administration warned Sinn Féin any new request for the prisoners’ early release would fail, Mr Adams has pledged to continue the fight.

He said: “I’m mindful of the trauma for the McCabe family but the Supreme Court upheld the fact they were qualifying prisoners (under the Good Friday Agreement) and we will continue to campaign for their release.”

Today’s talks in Dublin come after Mr Adams urged republicans to stay united in the aftermath of imminent IRA disarmament.

He accepted some at grass roots level may still oppose the decommissioning strategy.

But as a row over witnesses to the process intensified, Mr Adams called for supporters to stand firm.

He said: “I would simply appeal for unity and for people to continue to show the type of discipline and commitment they have shown thus far.

“We believe, and I think its part of what we have been able to achieve as a leadership, in validating dissent.

“Republicanism has to be tolerant. Some people have fundamental disagreement with the way we are pursuing this strategy, and I think that’s ok.

“We are not leading sheep, we are leading proud activists who have been through an awful lot over the last 30 years or so.”

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