DUBLIN (AP) — Detectives interrogated a prominent Irish Republican Army veteran Friday on suspicion of stabbing his wife several times on Christmas Eve, an attack condemned by the IRA-linked Sinn Fein party.
Police said Pearse McCauley tried to flee after they arrived at his family's rural home in County Cavan, northwest of Dublin, on Wednesday to find his wife bleeding from a deep chest wound and the couple's two young children nearby.
Pauline Tully McCauley was reported in stable condition after treatment for a collapsed lung. The high school teacher, who served as a Sinn Fein politician on Cavan's council from 1999 to 2012, married McCauley in 2003 months after meeting him while he was still imprisoned. Irish authorities permitted him a brief furlough for their wedding.
Pearse McCauley twice has featured in front-page news for IRA actions. In 1991, he and a comrade, Nessan Quinlivan, were imprisoned in London while awaiting trial for possessing explosives and conspiring to kill a top British brewing magnate. He and Quinlivan escaped by shooting their way past guards using a smuggled handgun that had been hidden in a sports shoe.
McCauley fled to Ireland and in 1996 was part of an IRA unit that ambushed a cash-filled van in County Limerick, southwest Ireland. IRA members shot both police escorts at close range, killing one and critically wounding the other.
McCauley and three other IRA men were charged with murder and faced potential life sentences, but witnesses withdrew testimony citing fear of IRA attack. The four men instead pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 1999.
Sinn Fein spent a decade lobbying the Irish government for accelerated paroles for the four men. McCauley walked free in 2009 after serving 10 years of a 14-year sentence. Britain dropped extradition demands for his 1991 escape and related charges as part of wider peacemaking efforts following the IRA's 2005 decision to disarm and renounce violence.
Sinn Fein's parliamentary member in Cavan, Caoimhghin O Caolain, condemned the attack.
"The horror of the ordeal that Pauline and her children faced on Christmas Eve is beyond comprehension," O Caolain said.