Aside from the obvious tragedy involved, it’s interesting to witness the contrast between how north and south treat the killing of a policeman on active duty, and the importance of national colours.
Every official building in Dublin had the tricolour flying at half mast. By all accounts, the atmosphere in the Dail was pretty tense, when Deputy Adams finally decided to apologise for the
murder (see Carlota’s correction here) of the last Guard on active duty in the Republic, Garda McCabe.
Miriam Lord in The Irish Times:
There was a brittle tension in the air as he spoke, a raw edge to the proceedings. Like people were holding their breath, waiting.
“An attack on a member of the Garda Síochána is an attack on all of us,” said Eamon Gilmore, speaking of “a man who lived for the ideals of public service and service to the community”.
Micheál Martin spoke of the nation’s deep shock at the news of “the cold-blooded slaying” of Det Garda Donohoe. “The State has suffered a direct attack. There is something truly harrowing about young children being robbed of their father at such a fragile age.”
Many of the politicians had experienced this situation before. Some were experiencing that communal feeling of shock and sorrow for the first time as public representatives.
And yet, there was something deeper about what was taking place in the Dáil chamber. You could feel it.
It was because of the presence of Sinn Féin, and in particular, its leader Gerry Adams and, sitting behind him, the TD for Kerry South, Martin Ferris.
She goes on…
The Sinn Féin deputy for Louth spoke of how Det Garda Donohoe “was a valued member of our local community” and told of how his killing had shocked the community in the Cooley area.
When he said the death of Adrian Donohoe has “also provoked memories of the killing of Garda Jerry McCabe and the wounding of Garda Ben O’Sullivan in June 1996”, the chamber took a sharp intake of breath.
“I want to apologise to Mrs McCabe and the McCabe family, and to Garda Ben O’Sullivan and to the families of other members of the State forces who were killed by republicans in the course of the conflict. I am very sorry for the pain and loss inflicted on those families. No words of mine can remove that hurt. Dreadful deeds cannot be undone.”
Deputy Adams finished with an appeal to people who might have any information to come forward to the Garda or the PSNI..
So, he apologised. And, well, I’ll let Miriam tell it:
There wasn’t a word from anyone, including the grave-faced Sinn Féin TDs. He sat down. The sullen, cold silence remained.
Afterwards, Government deputies shrugged and wondered why a man who insists he was never a member of the IRA would apologise on behalf of comrades he never had. And others wondered what “conflict” had been taking place in the quiet Limerick town of Adare when Jerry McCabe was callously gunned down.
Then they shook their heads and said the apology had to be welcomed.
It’s the only way. They know it. But you could see it stuck in the craw nonetheless.
Andrew Lynch in this evening’s Herald concludes a hard hitting analysis to the effect that
“if Adams is truly sorry, there is one thing he could do – tell the truth about his IRA role and the lives he helped to destroy. Until then he should save his breath to cool his porridge because all he has achieved this week is to prove that an empty apology is worse than no apology at all.”
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty