Tributes paid to retired Irish detective who survived IRA gun attack

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Ben O’Sullivan
Mr O’Sullivan, who has died aged 76, was seriously injured in a 1996 IRA attack. Credit: PA Media

Tributes have been paid following the death of Ben O’Sullivan, a retired detective who survived an IRA gun attack in 1996 that left a fellow officer dead.

A retired garda detective, he survived the attack that killed Detective Garda Jerry McCabe.

Mr McCabe was killed by the IRA during the attempted robbery of a post office van.

Mr O’Sullivan, who has died aged 76, was seriously injured in the attack.

They were on duty escorting a post office truck on its cash delivery at Adare, Co Limerick, on June 7.

Just before 7am, the truck stopped at Adare and the patrol car pulled up close by. As the truck driver prepared to unload the mail, a Provisional IRA unit crashed a jeep at full speed into the rear of the detectives’ unmarked patrol car.

Within seconds five additional gang members, in another vehicle, arrived at the scene and opened fire on the Garda car, killing Mr McCabe and seriously wounding Mr O’Sullivan.

In 1999, four men were convicted of manslaughter for the killing of Mr McCabe.

The Irish Justice Minister Helen McEntee said that Mr O’Sullivan represented the very best of the Irish police force.

She said: “There is little doubt that Ben O’Sullivan represented the very best of its values, service and bravery. Twice awarded a Gold Scott medal, Ben served his country with great courage and valour, selflessly taking on the burden of protecting all of us from danger.

“We thank him for his unstinting service and we mourn his passing.”

She said that the IRA gun attack was “one of the most sickening attacks on Garda members in the history of the State”.

She added: “While Jerry’s life was taken instantly, Ben was shot 11 times and left with serious injuries along with the devastating loss of his great friend. The Irish people will never forget that day and the bravery of Ben, Jerry and all their colleagues.

“On behalf of the Government and my Department, I send my deepest sympathies to Ben’s wife Anne, their children and grandchildren, and all his many friends and colleagues in An Garda Siochana.”

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris also paid his respects, who said that he had learnt the news with “great sadness”.

“On behalf of An Garda Síochana, I wish to extend my deepest condolences to Detective Garda O’Sullivan’s wife Anne, their four children, John, Marianne, Evelyn and Aoife, and their extended family and friends.”