Northern Ireland

Funeral takes place for Garda killer Pearse McCauley

He was found dead in his home in Strabane on Monday.

PACEMAKER BELFAST. 21/03/2024
Pearse McAuley's partner, Mary Shiels carries a single red rose as his remains are brought from the Church of the Immaculate Conception to Strabane Cemetery.
Pearse McAuley Funeral PACEMAKER BELFAST. 21/03/2024 Pearse McAuley's partner, Mary Shiels carries a single red rose as his remains are brought from the Church of the Immaculate Conception to Strabane Cemetery. (Jason McCartan Photography)

A funeral has been held for convicted garda killer Pearse McCauley.

McCauley, who was in his late 50s, was found dead in his home in Strabane on Monday.

His death is not being treated as suspicious.

He was sentenced to 14 years in jail for the manslaughter of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, who was shot dead by an IRA gang during a raid on the post office in Adare, Co Limerick, in June 1996.

McCauley’s coffin was draped in an Irish flag with a black beret and gloves placed on top as it was brought to the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Strabane on Thursday.

Pearse McAuley being led away from Dublin High Court after a failed bail bid in the 1990s
Pearse McCauley being led away from Dublin High Court after a failed bail bid in the 1990s. (Martin McCullough/PA)

The items were removed as his remains were taken into the church for the funeral service.

Addressing mourners, Father Declan Boland spoke of the loss felt by McCauley’s family.

“Wherever we go in life and wherever our journey may bring us, we all come back to the place where it all began, at the foot of the altar, bringing with us all the content and happenings of our lives, all that has shaped us to be the people that we are, to be surrendered in all his detail to the one who gave us life in the first place,” he said.

“This God is a God of mercy and love that has to be preached because all of us have sinned greatly and Pearse was no exception.

“We have to ask the mercy of God and seek pardon, fully confident that our pleas and our prayers will be heard and our petitions answered.

“Let us not forget primarily that Pearse was a father, a brother, a partner, and a friend of many.

“His loss is being felt deeply by those who love him.

“The sense of suffering, emptiness and pain that death brings to those who are left behind to mourn is a heavy burden to bear and this family bear it this morning.”

After the service, McCauley’s remains were taken for burial in Strabane cemetery.

He was jailed after an IRA gang shot dead Mr McCabe during the post office raid in Adare.

Mr McCabe was in an unmarked garda patrol car, escorting a van delivering £80,000 (€102,000) to local post offices in Adare when the IRA gang struck.

He was shot about 15 times with a Kalashnikov assault rifle.

His colleague, Detective Garda Ben O’Sullivan, was seriously injured in the shooting but survived.

McCauley was convicted of manslaughter in 1999 and was released from prison after serving 10 years.

Years before the killing, McCauley and his cellmate, Nessan Quinlivan, shot their way out of Brixton Prison in London as they awaited trial for conspiracy to murder brewery boss Charles Tidbury and for firearms and explosives offences.

Jail-breaker McAuley and IRA killer Kevin Walsh were the last of the five men jailed for the robbery to be released.

They had served three-quarters of their 14-year sentences.

While McCauley was serving his sentence, Sinn Féin made an unsuccessful attempt to have him and others jailed for the garda killing to be released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The move was resisted by the Dublin government.

In 2015, McCauley was sentenced to 12 years for stabbing his estranged wife, Pauline Tully, now a Sinn Féin TD, with a steak knife at her home on Christmas Eve in 2014.

The pair had married while McCauley was serving his 14-year sentence for the garda killing.

They met when Ms Tully, who was elected as a Sinn Féin councillor in 1999, visited McAuley at Castlerea Prison in Co Roscommon.

They became engaged in 2000.

He was temporarily released in 2003 to marry Ms Tully, a teacher at the time, in her home village of Kilnaleck, Co Cavan.

McCauley was finally freed in 2020.