Garda murderer Pearse McAuley was found dead at his home in Strabane, Co Tyrone, aged 59.

The IRA member was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 1999 for the manslaughter of Det Gda Jerry McCabe.

McAuley and his IRA gang shot dead Det Gda McCabe and his partner Det Gda Ben O’Sullivan during a raid on the post office in Adare, Co. Limerick, on June 7, 1996. Det Gda O’Sullivan survived the attack.

The gang, armed with AK47 machine guns, opened fire on the two detectives who were sitting in their patrol car and escorting a mail van delivering cash and mail in the village.

The murder occurred four months after the collapse of the IRA’s first ceasefire.

McAuley was convicted alongside Limerick men Jeremiah Sheehy, Michael O’Neill and Kevin Walsh.

Sinn Féin repeatedly sought the men’s early release under the Belfast Agreement. Then-Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams wrote to then-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 2000 and said: “As you know, these prisoners are covered by the Good Friday Agreement and whilst I am aware of the sensitivity of this case, the same applies here about a problem that needs to be solved.” ”

In 2003, McAuley and the three other convicted men were photographed in prison while four Sinn Féin TDs visited them: Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Seán Crowe, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and Martin Ferris.

The publication of the photo in the republican weekly newspaper An Phoblacht was met with criticism throughout the political system.

In early 2003, McAuley was provisionally released to marry Pauline Tully, a teacher from Cavan and Sinn Féin member of Cavan County Council. They began their relationship while McAuley was in prison. Ms Tully was part of a Sinn Féin delegation that visited the men and married McAuley a few months after they first met during the visits.

This year, at the party’s Ardfheis, she read out letters that the murderers had sent from prison. The Sinn Féin delegates responded with a standing ovation. Mrs Tully later described her husband as a “political prisoner”.

The four men were eventually released in 2009 and caused fresh outrage when they were caught outside Castlerea Prison and chased away by Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris.

On Christmas Eve 2014, McAuley stabbed his wife 13 times with a knife at their home in Kilnaleck, Co Cavan, breaking four of her fingers. He also threatened to kill her brother, Tommy Tully.

A year later he was sentenced to twelve years in prison for the attack, with the remaining four years suspended. He was released from prison in 2021.

McAuley escaped from prison in England in 1991 while awaiting trial on terrorism charges.

On July 7, 1991, he escaped from Brixton Prison with his cellmate Nessan Quinlivan. He was being held on charges of conspiracy to cause explosions and in connection with a plot to assassinate a chief executive of a British brewing company.

The two men were arrested at Stonehenge in October 1990 in connection with the assassination attempt. When 70 pounds of Semtex explosives were found in northwest London the following month, they were linked to it and charged in connection with it.

While held in Brixton, McAuley and Quinlivan managed to escape after McAuley produced a firearm from his shoe as he and Quinlivan were being returned to their security unit after attending mass.

During the escape, several shots were fired and one man was injured.

McAuley fled to the Republic, where he was later arrested in an extradition attempt by the British authorities. However, he fought extradition and was granted bail, which he missed just four months before the Adare attack.

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