McCabe killers release ‘in final settlement’

13 February 2005 By Barry O'Kelly and Pat Leahy
The government will consider the release of the killers of Garda Jerry McCabe if renewed talks with the republican movement reach an advanced stage, according to senior government sources.

Despite Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's comments last week that the release of the men was “off the table'‘ and that he did “not see it coming back on the table either'‘, it is believed that the government will be prepared to consider the men's release in the context of a “final settlement'' deal.

A senior source described the release of the men as “a red-line issue for them [Republicans]” and said that for the government to say “never, ever, ever'' on the men's release would be tantamount to saying that negotiations could never be successful.

Separately, a source close to the IRA said that the release of the four men convicted of the manslaughter of McCabe was likely to resurface as a significant issue in future negotiations with the Irish and British governments.

“It's not off the table,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the Garda Special Branch has dramatically stepped up surveillance on members of the mainstream republican movement in the wake of the Northern Bank heist.

The Sunday Business Post has learned that both covert and overt Garda surveillance is being directed at current and former IRA members, and some Sinn Féin activists with alleged IRA links.

Among those under surveillance are Sinn Féin TDs Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Martin Ferris.

Republican sources criticised the monitoring as “over the top'‘ in some cases.

“I know some people who have been openly followed, people who haven't been doing anything,” an IRA source said. “A lot of it is discreet, but if you were involved in the movement, you'd spot it a mile away. This wouldn't have happened six months ago.”

Detectives conceded that surveillance had increased, but they refused to elaborate, other than to confirm that it was taking place as part of the biggest Special Branch investigation in at least six years.

“Yeah, it's happening...but it's a distance, they [republicans being watched] don't necessarily know when it's happening,” said a Special Branch detective.

But an IRA source said: “I was sitting in the car, and suddenly they pulled up beside me [in an unmarked Garda car] and they looked straight in, they made no pretence about what they were doing.”

In Co Louth, Sinn Féin is believed to have instructed party members who are being followed to log and report incidents to the Garda.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?