GARDAI (police) and the Irish prison authorities have been sharply criticized for not giving adequate notice to widow Ann McCabe that one of the IRA killers of her detective husband, Jerry, was being released early from jail this week.She found out about the plan in a Sunday newspaper only a day before Jeremiah Sheehy walked out of Castlerea Prison in Co. Roscommon at dawn on Monday, having served eight years of a 12-year-sentence for manslaughter. He was given standard remission of a third of his sentence for good behavior.Mrs. McCabe was said by family members to have been furious at the lack of information from government agencies.One of her sons received formal notice from a Garda on Sunday afternoon, hours after reading the information herself in a newspaper that morning.The Department of Justice claimed that arrangements were made to inform the McCabe family over the weekend of Sheehy's impending release.But Pat Kearney, a spokesman for Mrs. McCabe and her family, said, "The arrangements the Justice Department is saying were made clearly didn't work."Kearney, Jerry McCabe's brother-in-law, added that the widow would not be commenting personally. "The release is upsetting enough for Ann and her family. It's poor form that she was not contacted personally," he said.Kearney added that Sheehy lived only 12 miles away in Co. Limerick and now that he was released any member of the McCabe family could bump into him. "She is upset and I suppose in disbelief that nobody in authority had the good manners to contact her," he said.Kearney said lessons needed to be learned before the release in August next year of Kevin Walsh, who lived just five miles from Mrs. McCabe. Walsh and Pearse McAuley, from Strabane, Co. Tyrone, are finishing their 14-year sentence for the manslaughter of father-of-five McCabe, who was shot 14 times during a botched post office raid in Adare, Co Limerick, in June, 1996.Another cop, Ben O'Sullivan, was injured.Last year Michael O'Neill, who served eight years of his 11-year sentence for manslaughter, became the first of the four who admitted manslaughter to be released. Mrs. McCabe was personally informed by the then Minister for Justice Michael McDowell of his release.All four were originally charged with murder, but the state was forced to accept the manslaughter pleas when a number of key witnesses refused to cooperate as a result of IRA intimidation.Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern said he could understand the victims' families being angry if they had not been informed."As I understand it, in the case of the McCabes and Ben O'Sullivan, there's a pre-existing arrangement where the families would be informed. I understand all the sensitivities but there is a pre-existing arrangement that I presume would have been filled," he said.Fine Gael's justice spokesman Alan Shatter said the failure to inform Mrs. McCabe in person was "appalling."Two men, who fled overseas shortly after McCabe was killed, are still on the wanted list. One is thought to be living in Spain. The other is said to be living in Nicaragua.
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