The Irish Independent ran a defiant front page on the 12 February, 2016, responding to threats on its journalists who are being targeted by organized gangs. The headline reads: Why We Wont be Intimidated and features a photo of Sunday Independent reporter, Veronica Guerin, who was gunned down in 1996 by a Dublin crime gang for writing a number of stories on their crimes.
A Journalist’s Risks
Dying to Tell a Story
The Veronica Guerin Story
When Veronica Guerin was murdered in June 1996, she was not only the most famous journalist in Ireland; she was something of a national heroine. Her exposes on the criminal underworld in Dublin and the violent rise of powerful drug dealers captured the nation’s attention. Her murder touched off the largest criminal investigation in Irish history. Moreover, her death transformed the country in ways few could have expected.
Veronica “Ronnie” Guerin was born in Dublin, Ireland on July 5, 1959. On June 26, 1996 Guerin became the twenty-fourth journalist to be killed for her writings to the public. She was a journalist working for the Sunday Independent when she was assassinated by Irish drug dealers while sitting in her car at an intersection on the Naas dual carriageway.
What made her stand up and decide that enough was enough, that something had to be said about the drugs in Dublin when no one else would? It was as simple as seeing what needed to be changed in her city. She didn’t have illustrious beginnings, one that would fuel her passion for journalism and for bringing the truth to light. She was born to a large family and grew up in North Dublin. She was educated by nuns in Killester and attended Trinity College where she developed a strong interest in politics. She studied accountancy at the college, before joining her father’s accountancy firm; she would later bring this experience into her investigations on fraud. After leaving her accountancy job, she started her own public relations firm before joining the Sunday Business Post.
But it was at the Sunday Tribune that her reputation began to grow as an investigative journalist when she got the first interview with Bishop Eamon Casey. He had fled to Ecuador when his affair and his son were revealed to the world in a book.
In 1994 she joined the Sunday Independent, where she began publishing the interviews with members of the Irish underworld that led to her death. Ironically, she was assassinated two days before she was supposed to speak at a conference in London on “Dying to Tell a Story: Journalists at Risk.” Guerin had her own style of writing that set her apart from other journalists. Her editor at the Sunday Independent, Willie Kealy, believes she provided a different voice than those that were present in Irish journalism at the time, someone who was unafraid to break out of the mould.
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