Photo Of The Day

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 Won’t 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.

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 Won’t 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.

Guerin wanted to write about something meaningful in her Dublin community.

She started out by interviewing the users of heroin and asking them where they got it.

She, relentlessly pursued interviews with leading figures in the Irish underworld in order to expose the drug trade in Dublin and the role gangs played in it. Then she followed up the chain of command for organized crime in Dublin.

She wanted to let it be known about what she believed to be a serious situation in Ireland that no one wanted to report about. Crime and drug use was at a high at the time of her reporting however, nobody wanted to dig deep enough, get their hands dirty or try and get to the bottom of a problem that plagued their country.

Guerin focused her writings on a certain group of men: Gerry Hutch, John Traynor, Martin Cahill and John Gilligan.

Journalism that is in the public interest is the fundamental backbone to a functioning democracy. In theory, public interest journalism is an inestimable aide in maintaining the accountability of people who work in the field of crown approved authority or of senior figures in private sector enterprise. A Celebrated practitioner of investigative journalism such as Veronica Guerin was, amongst others, a beacon of public interest journalism. She investigated political malpractice, high-ranking criminals, and the occasional blurred lines between the two.

Veronica Guerin was murdered due to her fearless exposure and relentless investigation of senior figures in the Dublin underworld. Her death resulted in the incumbent Taoiseach, John Bruton, calling her slaying “an attack on democracy”. Her work was a combination of public interest and interest to the public. The general public enjoyed reading investigative crime reporting, in a similar way that they enjoy reading about sexual indiscretion. Unlike most stories concerning sexual practice, Guerin’s genre of journalism was of a genuine public interest. Her tenacious inquiries into the practices of notorious Dublin figures like Martin Cahill and John Gilligan were of a great inconvenience to both of them. Gilligan in particular went to the extent of threatening to “sexually assault her young son if she didn’t back off”. When Guerin was murdered, the public outcry was of such magnitude as to lead almost immediately to the Criminal Justice Act of 1996 (Drug Trafficking), ratified in the Dail five weeks after her death.

Veronica’s martyrdom has not been in vain. Her death was a wake up call that has inspired citizens to action. People countrywide have been putting pressure on the Government to empower the Gardai and the courts even further. Never in the history of Ireland has legislation been enacted as swiftly as this crime bill was.

The work and fate of Guerin was as powerful a testament to strength of investigative and public interest journalism as could possibly occur.

Because of her reporting and writings about a topic that she considered dangerous in Ireland, the drug war, her writings quickly launched her up into a celebrity-like status among her readers and in her community. She was well known for discovering and publishing the truth about something that most people preferred to keep quiet. She was well-known for continuing to go after a story long after most reporters would have given up. She didn’t work from an office, but rather her car. She went to people’s houses to retrieve quotes and kept after individuals who she believed played a large role in the focus of her stories. Many other journalists considered her and her tactics to be unethical. They believed that her determination and perseverance to retrieve the truth was an invasion of privacy. They thought that she did not respect the people in which she was writing about and her ways of retrieving the information was unethical.

Craving first-hand information, she pursued a story directly to the source with little regard for her personal safety, to engage those she deemed central to a story. This allowed her to build close relationships with both the legitimate authorities, such as the Garda Síochána (Irish police), and the criminals, with both sides respecting her diligence by providing highly detailed information. She also reported on Irish Republican Army activities in the Republic.

John Gilligan started his criminal life at a young age. When he was 15, he was arrested for importing cigarettes and soon after moved on to selling marijuana. While in prison, Gilligan met associates who aided Gilligan in drug trafficing after his sentence was over. Brian Meehan and Paul Ward became Gilligans right-hand men and were the originators of Gilligans gang.

Gilligan’s organized crime became a profitable business and he purchased the Jessbrook home and horse ranch. The 100-acre land was home to Gilligan’s racehorse. Gilligan laundered his money through a casino but he wasn’t able to launder all of it. Gilligan hid some of his money under beds and laundry baskets. Gilligan is known as the father of organized crime in Ireland.

Because of Ireland’s liberal laws, she was not allowed to publish the true names of the people whom she was referring to in her stories. She used nicknames to conceal the identities of the individuals whom her stories were based off of. One of the most popular stories she wrote was about the man whom she gave the nickname “The Monk” aka Gerry Hutch. The article framed “The Monk” as a man suspected in masterminding the largest robbery in Ireland’s history.

Using her accountancy knowledge to trace the proceeds of illegal activity, she used street names or pseudonyms for underworld figures to avoid the Irish libel laws.

When she began to cover drug dealers, and gained information from convicted drugs criminal John Traynor, she received numerous death threats. The first violence against her occurred in October 1994, when two shots were fired into her home after her story on murdered crime kingpin Martin Cahill was published. Guerin dismissed the “warning”. The day after writing an article on Gerry “The Monk” Hutch, on 30 January 1995, she answered her doorbell to a man pointing a revolver at her head. Traynor had hired the gunman to shoot her in the head although he missed and shot her in the leg at her home as a warning.

After being released from hospital, she declared that this would not stop her from continuing her reporting. “I vow that the eyes of justice, the eyes of this journalist will not be shut again,” Guerin said. “No hand can deter me from my battle for the truth.”

After her attack, her employers issued round-the-clock protection. She was issued a police escort to be around her 24/7. However, a few short days later she cancelled and refused the protection. Guerin claimed that it interfered with her work and prevented her from getting the information she needed. Her people of interest were intimidated by her escorts that stood just a few feet away as Guerin tried to interview them and refused to release any relevant information. Once again, Guerin had placed her job and love of reporting above the value of her own life.

A second attack occurred on September 13, 1995 by convicted criminal John Gilligan. Guerin appeared at Gilligan’s house with the intent of having an interview. However, Gilligan brutally beat her and forced her to quickly remove herself from his property. According to Guerin, Gilligan called the next day, threatening her. Stating that if she mentioned him at all in her articles he would kidnap and rape her son and then kill her.

After Guerin’s murder it set off mass chaos in Ireland. Prime Minister John Bruton called it “an attack on democracy.” Her death upset many people throughout Ireland who revered her as more than just a journalist. She was someone who reported something that was important to her, something she thought that the community in which she lived in had a right to know what was going on around them.

Gilligan was arrested and the judge said that he didn’t doubt Gilligan was somehow involved in Veronica’s death but prosecution was unable to directly connect Gilligan to Veronica’s death.

The car belonging to Veronica Guerin on the Naas Dual Carriageway at Newlands Cross, Dublin, on the afternoon of June 26, 1996. While driving her red Opel Calibra Guerin stopped at a red traffic light on the Naas Dual Carriageway near Newlands Cross, on the outskirts of Dublin. Not knowing she was being followed, she was shot six times, fatally, by one of two men sitting on a motorcycle.

The car belonging to Veronica Guerin on the Naas Dual Carriageway at Newlands Cross, Dublin, on the afternoon of June 26, 1996. While driving her red Opel Calibra Guerin stopped at a red traffic light on the Naas Dual Carriageway near Newlands Cross, on the outskirts of Dublin. Not knowing she was being followed, she was shot six times, fatally, by one of two men sitting on a motorcycle.

veronica1

The 1997 Report

On the evening of 25 June 1996, Gilligan drug gang members Charles Bowden, Brian Meehan, Peter Mitchell and Seamus Ward had met at their distribution premises on the Greenmount Industrial Estate. Bowden, the gang’s distributor and ammunition quartermaster, had supplied the three with a Colt Python revolver loaded with .357 Magnum Semiwadcutter bullets.


The first radio bulletins were sketchy, saying only that someone in a red sports car had been murdered execution style at a major intersection outside Dublin. The police and reporters on the scene knew the victim’s identity. They just didn’t want to believe it.

When news spread that it was Veronica Guerin, in some mysterious way it touched the Irish soul. People left flowers and cards at government buildings. There was a national moment of silence at offices and factories around the country. Thousands of people attended the funeral, including the President and the Prime Minister. The country wept when her 6-year-old son Cahal kissed his mother’s casket in a final goodbye.

“Everybody read Veronica Guerin,” said Chris Finnegan, a retired narcotics detective who was one of her sources. “Everybody throughout the length and breadth of Ireland who wanted to know what was happening went to the Veronica Guerin column, because it was undiluted.”

The stories she wrote took her readers into an Ireland few people ever saw, away from the peaceful streets of a tranquil country into an underworld of drugs and organized crime. Inner-city neighborhoods had become infested with heroin. There were 8,000 addicts in Dublin alone. Angel dust, ecstasy and marijuana were finding their way into middle-class neighborhoods. There were a dozen gangland murders. Not one of them was ever solved.

It was as if no one cared, except for Veronica Guerin, who spoke out frequently on Irish television.

The gangsters finally had someone to fear. In the fall of 1994, gunshots were fired through the front window of her house. It didn’t stop her. A few months after the warning shots, a gunman burst through the front door. The assailant pushed her up against a wall and put the gun to her head, then moved it slowly down to her thigh and pulled the trigger.

“I could hear the gunman’s footsteps running out of the house, and I was just banging my head off the floor saying, ‘Christ, I’m alive! I’m alive’!” Guerin said.

Subsequently, her newspaper spent thousands of dollars on a security system for her home. For a while she was given around-the-clock police protection, but she called it off because it was interfering with her work.

That work involved a man by the name of John Gilligan, a nasty thug and suspected drug trafficker who, in the few years he had been out of prison, had managed to build a multimillion-dollar estate and equestrian center in the Irish countryside. In September 1995 Guerin paid Gilligan a visit and was unprepared for his response.

“She said he just came out at her, and he started beating and punching her and swearing at her,” said Paul Williams, a crime reporter for Dublin’s Sunday World newspaper, who was Guerin’s competitor and friend.

“There was so much venom in his voice that it scared her,” Williams continued. “And he punched her, and he hit her very hard, scared the living daylights out of her. She was on her own. And she said afterward, she said, ‘I shouldn’t have gone out there, I know that’.”

According to a statement Guerin gave the police, her attacker called the very next day to make sure she’d gotten the message. If she wrote about him, he told her, “I’m going to kidnap your son and sodomize him. I’m going to shoot you, do you understand? I’m going to kill you.”

If anything, the threats made her more determined to carry out her work.

“Every time we would write about the fact that these guys were getting more dangerous, more sinister and more prepared to blow anybody away who tried to stop them or tried to expose them, we were laughed at,” said Williams.

In the end, it took Veronica Guerin’s own murder to convince people that everything she’d been writing about the criminal underworld was true. About 1 p.m. in the afternoon she stopped for a traffic light at a busy intersection on the outskirts of Dublin. She was being followed by two men on motorcycles.

According to several witnesses, the motorcycle pulled alongside her car, the passenger on the back jumped off, walked over and fired five shots through the window. Veronica Guerin was killed instantly. The gunman jumped back on his motorbike and disappeared in the midday traffic.

“And I know for a fact that in the moments before Veronica was murdered she actually said something to one of the guys because I know that the scumbags who murdered her actually bragged about it to each other afterward,” said Williams. “She said, ‘Don’t shoot me in the face.’ And they didn’t shoot her in the face because the guy on the bike, who rode the bike, talked about it afterward.”

It’s impossible to know right now whether that story is true, but it will no doubt become part of Veronica’s legend. It’s also impossible to know exactly why she continued to pursue the story in the face of such danger. Was she simply naive? Did she allow ambition and the thrill of a good story to cloud her judgment?

Here’s what she herself said: “If I said, ‘OK, over the next 12, 18, 24 months you’re going to have shots fired into your house, be shot yourself and be severely assaulted, and that your family are going to be threatened and intimidated,’ a I going to get into it? No, I would never have got into it. But having got into it, I cannot walk away from it because it is a job that must be done, and I’m a journalist.”

The investigation has been meticulous, and police have a number of leads. Whether the authorities will be able to prove their suspicions in court is another matter. John Gilligan has not been charged in the murder case, although he has acknowledged he is the prime suspect. Since October he’s been locked in an English prison awaiting trial on money-laundering charges.

Irish police recently raided his equestrian center and seized many of his assets, an action made possible through tough new laws passed as a result of Veronica Guerin’s death. But maybe the most dramatic evidence of change can be seen at least once a week in the streets of Dublin.

There had been anti-drug marches before, but now people come by the hundreds and, on some nights, by the thousand, adults and children, ordinary people, activists and politicians, marching through poor inner-city neighborhoods and surrounding the homes of suspected drug dealers and ordering them to leave.

“What we’re seeing here at the moment is probably one of the most dramatic periods in Irish criminal history,” said Williams. “The criminals are on the run big time, and literally gangland has become a very quiet place suddenly.”

The 1999 Update

It may have been quiet in gangland, as the people responsible for Veronica Guerin’s murder fled the country within days of the shooting. But since 60 Minutes ran the first story in 1997, it has not been quiet at police headquarters in Dublin. Investigators have been relentless, and their work has paid off.

The first big break in the case came with the arrest of Charles Bowden, a member of John Gilligan’s gang and the person who supplied the weapon for the hit squad. Bowden told police he didn’t know Veronica Guerin was the target. He has since given the police crucial information, deciding to testify against the drug gang.

He told reporter Paul Williams, who is writing a book, what it was that made him crack during a long police interrogation.

“One old detective was interviewing him and he said, ‘You know, you don’t realize what this is about do you?’ And he said, ‘I do.’ And there was a lot of mind games going on,” says Williams.

“So the police officer left the interview room and came back with a picture of Veronica’s body on the slab and another picture of her lying in the car. And he threw them down on the table in front of him and he said, ‘This, Charlie, is what all this is about.’ This is what it’s all about.’ And after that he saw visions that night, he just couldn’t hack it anymore. He broke down and he decided to talk,” Williams continues.

Bowden is now under heavy guard in the basement of an Irish prison and the first person to enter Ireland’s witness protection program, which is part of the emergency legislation passed after Guerin’s death. Police fear Bowden is still in danger, and they are worried that evidence at police headquarters could get blown away.

“Part of the roof had to be removed from the police station,” Williams explains, “in case the terrorists were being paid by the mob, by John Gilligan and his gang, to blow up the police station. In case they did manage to plant the device, that they wouldn’t damage the evidence.”

Williams says it is now known why she was murdered. It all goes back to that visit she paid to John Gilligan’s horse farm. Gilligan was on parole when he beat her up, and when she decided to press assault charges against him, her testimony could have sent him back to jail.

Gilligan is still tossing out threats from his prison cell in England. He reportedly placed a $5 million bounty on the head of Charles Bowden. Recently, the police foiled two assassination attempts on Bowden’s life, both linked to former IRA operatives.

None of this has scared Irish reporters and newspaper editors away from the story.

“We’ve told the people of Ireland every aspect of the case, what they did, what they did with the money, even up to finding the gun,” says Williams. “We told them everything, the public, of what happened and who these people were and their background.”

Patrick Eugene Holland, who has links to the Irish National Liberation Army, was reportedly paid $200,000 to pull the trigger. While he has not yet been officially charged in Guerin’s murder, he is serving a long sentence on drug charges while the investigation continues.

Holland was never convicted of the murder, and he denied the accusation up until his death in June 2009 while in prison in the UK.

The man suspected of driving the motorbike, Brian Meehan, was finally cornered in Amsterdam by a Dutch SWAT team working with Irish authorities. Paul Ward was given a life sentence for his role in the murder.

Guerin’s slaying, was the first murder of a journalist in the Irish Republic, it sent shock waves throughout the country. Prime Minister John Bruton called it “an attack on democracy.” The Irish Parliament marked her death with a moment of silence. In a joint statement, leading editors in Ireland and Great Britain declared:

“Veronica Guerin was murdered for being a journalist. She was a brave and brilliant reporter who was gunned down for being tenacious. This assassination is a fundamental attack on the free press. Journalists will not be intimidated.”

 About an hour after Guerin was murdered, a meeting took place in Moore Street, Dublin between Bowden, Meehan, and Mitchell. Bowden later denied under oath in court that the purpose of the meeting was the disposal of the weapon but rather an excuse in a public setting to place them away from the incident.

At the time of her murder, Traynor was seeking a High Court order against Guerin, to prevent her from publishing a book about his involvement in organised crime.

In November 1998 Paul “Hippo” Ward, a Dublin drug dealer, was convicted of Guerin’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. Although not the man who pulled the trigger, he had disposed of both the pistol and the motorcycle used by two accomplices in the shooting.

Brian Meehan fled to Amsterdam. After the court dismissed additional evidence from Bowden, Meehan was convicted on the testimony of gang member turned state’s witness Russell Warren, who had followed Guerin’s movements in the hours before the murder, and then called Meehan on a mobile phone with the details. Meehan was convicted of murdering Guerin, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

John “The Monk” Gilligan, suspected of leading the gang, left Ireland the day before Guerin was murdered, on a flight to Amsterdam. He was arrested 12 months later in the United Kingdom trying to board a flight for Amsterdam, after a routine search of his baggage revealed $500,000 in cash. Claiming it was the proceeds of gambling, he was charged with money laundering. After a three-year legal battle, he was extradited to Ireland on 3 February 2000. Tried and acquitted of Guerin’s murder, he was later convicted of importing 20 tonnes of cannabis and sentenced to 28 years in prison, reduced to 20 years on appeal.

Gerry Hutch grew up in poverty in the 1970’s. Hutch became a child theif robbing banks for the cash that was in the teller drawer. It was known as a jump-over. Hutch got the nickname “The Monk” while he was serving his first jail sentence. Hutch was well-mannered and disciplined inmate. Hutch is the primary suspect in two robberies in 1996 and 1997. He has not been convicted for stealing 4 million pounds from Brinks Allied and Marino Mart.

Hutch served a six-year sentence for an armed robbery in 2001.

John Traynor, who was accused by Gilligan for ordering the hit on Veronica Guerin, started his life of crime by breaking into houses, stealing good and firearms. Traynor later moved on to prostitution. He served a seven-year sentence and when he was released he agreed to become an informant for Martin Cahill, also known as The General.

Traynor was more of a thief then a drug-dealer. He helped Cahill with some of the biggest art heists in history. Cahill was murdered by Gilligan’s gang. Traynor was the middle-man for business between Cahill and Gilligan. But since Cahill was killed, Traynor began doing work for Gilligan.

Detectives said that he enjoyed working as an informant for Veronica because Veronica made him look like a crime kingpin instead of just a common thief. Cahill’s gang and Gilligan’s gang didn’t like Traynor being so vocal with Veronica and exposing the hierarchy of their organized crime.

After Veronica was killed, Traynor fled to Portugal and Spain.

2016

Police are warning some journalists to leave Dublin thanks to drug lords angry about their stories.

Now 20 years later, some of the same crime fraternity that Guerin fought so relentlessly to expose have gotten more powerful and violent—with a reach that extends to their new base on Spain’s Costa del Sol and as far away as China.

A complicated new feud between two men long identified by Irish media as smooth, old-school Irish gangsters, Christy “The Dapper Don” Kinahan and Gerry “The Monk” Hutch—ignited by younger, dumber gang members and possibly a Northern Ireland Republican dissident—and blood is spilling all over Dublin.

Police have warned some Dublin crime reporters that they are in such danger from drug lords angry at being written about that they should leave their homes.

Not surprisingly, the press was barred from getting close to the flamboyant funeral Feb, 2016, of David Byrne, 34, a reputed key underworld figure, according to multiple Irish media accounts. Byrne was gunned down in a brutal revenge killing at a boxing match weigh-in on Feb. 5, a murder followed by yet another retaliatory hit a few days later—both of which led to the threats to reporters.

“The circumstances are worse now than in Veronica’s day, in a way, as far as the violence,” Jimmy Guerin, Veronica’s brother and an independent candidate in Ireland’s Feb. 26 general election, has said. “But at least now people are aware that the danger is real and they know what can happen. I also feel for the families of the reporters who have been targeted. You don’t understand the trauma involved until you go through it personally.”

In a cruel irony, the Criminal Assets Bureau, established after Veronica Guerin’s murder to seize the assets of the bigger criminal kingpins, only made the bad guys more creative, her brother said.

Some of the more powerful drug lords left Ireland for the Costa del Sol and organized a sophisticated new system of drug trafficking from Amsterdam to Asia. Byrne, a father of two, was reputed to be a local enforcer for Ireland’s alleged chief crime boss, “Dapper Don” Kinahan, 59, who has lived in Spain for years and, according to The Guardian, speaks four languages and has two university degrees earned during prison stints.

Byrne’s killing was so brazen—masked gunmen with AK-47s, wearing uniforms resembling Ireland’s elite police squad, burst into Dublin’s Regency Hotel and fatally shot Byrne in front of hundreds of onlookers at the boxing match weigh-in—that it seemed almost more ISIS than Irish. Except, of course, that police said one of the six gang members involved in the attack was dressed as a woman, in a reddish wig and gray dress.

According to multiple media accounts, Kinahan’s son, Daniel, who was at the hotel but escaped, was the real target. Some of the press reports, quoting confidential police sources, said the Regency Hotel hit was in response to the murder of Gary Hutch, the 34-year-old son of “The Monk” Hutch, on the Costa del Sol in September 2015. The younger Hutch was one of many trying to muscle in on Kinahan’s alleged Spanish-run empire.

Three days after the Byrne assassination, the Monk’s older brother, a taxi driver named Eddie Hutch, 59, was shot nine times in the head at his Dublin home by another hit squad. Hutch was considered a “soft target,” according to Irish media, meaning he was not an active criminal.

The Irish police, or Gardaí, normally do not carry guns, but armed officers were on patrol during Byrne’s dramatic funeral procession, which included three horse-drawn carriages bearing floral tributes, one in the shape of a boxing ring with a pair of red Everlast boxing gloves.

One report talked of fears that hand grenades might be thrown, but the packed church service went smoothly even as police helicopters circled overhead. Only about 20 members of the broadcast and print media covered the event, from more than 300 feet away. More than 500 people attended the funeral.

Daniel Kinahan and his brother, Christy Jr., flew into Dublin Airport the day before the funeral, where they were met by what the paper called their “trusted lieutenant” and Byrne’s cousin, “Fat Freddie” Thompson, as well as quite a few police who followed them back to Dublin.

Armed police have also been seen in Dublin’s inner city recently, where drug lords are alleged to operate what Irish media say has become a global drug-dealing business.

After the Byrne killing, police, reportedly acting on intelligence, warned the editors of the newspaper group Independent News and Media (INM) that the lives of some their journalists were at risk, and recommended they move out of their homes. The newspapers include the Irish Independent and the Sunday Independent, where Veronica Guerin worked. Because of strict Irish libel and privacy laws, the targeted journalists have not been publicly identified.

“We take all threats against citizens very seriously,” a Dublin police spokesman said. “We have a process in place that seeks to mitigate such threats, which includes risk assessments.”

But in a move unusual for Irish media, INM went public with the threats and also published an edition of the Independent in Feb. 2016 with a cover photo of Guerin and the headline “Why We Won’t Be Intimidated.”

The editorial comment on the front page read:

“Twenty years after the murder of Veronica Guerin by criminals who feared her courageous exposes of their activities, journalists working for Independent newspapers are under threat from gangsters. They did not intimidate her then, they will not succeed today.”

Journalists at the Independent News and Media title have been threatened by organized gangs in the city and the newspaper released a statement confirming that the Garda Siochána [police] had informed a number of reporters “that their safety is at risk from organized criminals.”

The INM newspapers have long been known for their persistent and tenacious reporting about controversial issues and people. Martin O’Hagan, a crime reporter for INM’s Sunday World in Belfast, was murdered in 2001 after he had written a series about drug dealing in Northern Ireland.

The newspaper group’s editor-in-chief, Stephen Rae, a former crime reporter himself, made it clear the paper won’t back down.

“Our media group,” he said, “will not be deterred from serving the public interest and highlighting the threat to society at large posed by such criminals.”

Seamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists, has said that INM’s “surprising” decision to talk about the threats may stem from the country’s recent complacency about the rising tide of crime in Dublin.

“I think for awhile it was a question of everyone thinking, ‘Well, they’re just killing each other so we don’t bother with them,’” Dooley said. “But the threat to journalists and the memories of what happened to Veronica really started to make all of this hit home.”

Veronica Guerin (pictured with her husband Graham Turley and their son Cathal) was an Irish crime reporter who was murdered by drug lords on June 26, 1996. Graham said, "Veronica stood for freedom to write...she was not a judge or a juror, but she paid the ultimate price with the sacrifice of her life."

Veronica Guerin (pictured with her husband Graham Turley and their son Cathal) was an Irish crime reporter who was murdered by drug lords on June 26, 1996. Veronica stood for freedom to write…she was not a judge or a juror, but she paid the ultimate price with the sacrifice of her life.

“It’s very hard on the families left behind,” Veronicas brother said. “But Veronica didn’t back down and I don’t think you will see the reporters today giving up either. I think they may do away with bylines for awhile but the coverage won’t stop.”

 Veronica’s murder led to the formation of the Criminal Assets Bureau and a clampdown on gangland crime. Her death resulted in the largest criminal investigation in Ireland; resulting in over 150 arrests followed with more immediate attention to organized crime. In honour of her and her dedication to her job, a Bust of Guerin sits in the Dubh Linn Gardens.

Her family remember Veronica as always being determined and never slacking off. She was well-known to them at a young age that when she wanted something she went out and retrieved it. “When she set out to do something, she became the best at it,” her brother Jimmy said.

Bernadette her mother, believed that her daughter had a very charismatic charm about her personality which allowed her to obtain the information necessary for her to write her stories. Her daughter was likable and knew what to say and how to say it in order to get the truth.  “She was incredibly charming, incredibly vibrant, and was a great reader of situations, which was why these criminals were able to open up.”

Guerin cared about the people she interacted with and always wanted to help. According to Bernadette, “From the time Veronica was a child, Veronica cared about people. If she saw that there was a niche there where she could help in some way, yeah, the crusader took over.”

This shows that Guerin grew up with that need and want to help. She had a desire to offer her assistance even if for only a little bit. When Guerin was beaten by Gilligan, her mother remembers holding her daughter as she cried. This sign of weakness shows that she was comfortable with her mother and that they had a good relationship. Guerin obviously felt that her mother was someone she could trust and rely on whenever she had doubts about what she was doing or reporting on.

Strong family values continued into Guerin’s own family. Close friends recall Guerin always placing her son and his needs above her own. She spent as much time as she could with her little boy and husband and had a strong relationship with both. Now, years later her son Cathal is “is troublesome and boisterous and everything his mother [was],” according to her brother Jimmy.

Guerin’s legacy continues to live on in her family as well as in the Sunday Independent. Jimmy picked up where his sister left off, writing for the paper as their crime reporter.

Cathal Turley was just six-years-old when his mother, Veronica was murdered two decades ago. Cathal has said his mum simply wanted to help people: “I think her goal was to help the Irish people or the people of Dublin, whether that was criminals working in the banks, or criminals selling drugs on the streets, I think she would just have been after that.”

 Veronica Guerin devoted her career and life to exposing the drug barons and leading figures in Dublin’s underworld. “I am simply doing my job,” she said. “I am letting the public know how this society operates.” She paid the ultimate price for her pursuit of truth.

A memorial statue to Veronica Guerin is located in Dubh Linn Gardens, in the grounds of Dublin Castle.

A memorial statue to Veronica Guerin is located in Dubh Linn Gardens, in the grounds of Dublin Castle.

Video: Veronica Guerin

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Gangster wanted over murder of Veronica Guerin finally arrested …

Women’s Museum of Ireland | Articles | Veronica Guerin

Veronica Guerin – The New York Times

A Murder That Changed Ireland – CBS News

Murdered journalist Veronica Guerin’s son: “I am just so proud of mum …

 


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  • kereru

    A courageous woman who stood up for what was right and paid the ultimate price for her stand. Would that we had such journalists today. Thanks Lux.

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