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Veronica Guerin
Veronica Guerin 1.jpg
Monument to Veronica Guerin
Born 5 July 1958(1958-07-05)
Dublin, Ireland
Died 26 June 1996 (aged 37)
Naas Dual Carriageway, Newlands Cross, County Dublin
Education Trinity College, Dublin
Occupation Journalist
Nationality Irish
Notable credit(s) The Sunday Business Post
Sunday Tribune
Sunday Independent

Veronica Guerin (5 July 1958 - 26 June 1996) was an Irish crime reporter who was murdered on 26 June 1996 by drug dealers, an event, which alongside the murder of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe three weeks earlier, helped establish the Criminal Assets Bureau.



Veronica Guerin, nicknamed "Ronnie", and her four siblings were born in Dublin and attended Catholic school where she excelled in athletics. Besides basketball and football, she was a superb camogie player and a diehard fan of the Manchester United football team. Veronica Guerin's father was an accountant, and she studied accountancy at Trinity College, Dublin. After graduation, her father hired her at his company. When her father died three years later, she changed professions and started a public relations firm, which she ran for seven years.[1]

Journalism career

In 1990, she changed careers again, switching to journalism as a reporter with the Sunday Business Post and Sunday Tribune. In 1994, she began to write about criminals for Irish newspaper the Sunday Independent. She used street names or pseudonyms for underworld figures to avoid Irish libel laws.[1] When she began to cover drug dealers, 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 a murdered drug kingpin was published. Guerin dismissed the "warning". Three months later, she answered her doorbell to a man pointing a revolver at her head. The assailant shot her in the leg. Regardless, she vowed to continue her investigations. Independent Newspapers installed a security system to protect her and the Garda Síochána (Irish police) gave her a 24-hour escort, but she did not approve of this, saying that it hampered her work.

On 13 September 1995, convicted criminal John Gilligan attacked her when she confronted him about his lavish lifestyle with no source of income. He later called her at home and threatened to kidnap and rape her son and kill her if she wrote anything about him.[1][2]

Guerin received the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists in December, 1995.[1]


On 26 June 1996, while Guerin was driving her red Opel Calibra she stopped at a traffic light on the Naas Dual Carriageway near Newlands Cross, a few miles outside Dublin, not knowing she was being followed by a motorbike. One of two men sitting on the motorbike shot her six times with a .357 Magnum pistol killing her. The murder weapon has never been recovered. Guerin's murder caused outrage, and Taoiseach John Bruton called it "an attack on democracy".


In the wake of Guerin's death, the Irish parliament realised the potential of using tax enforcement laws as a means of deterring and punishing criminals. It then enacted the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 and the Criminal Assets Bureau Act 1996, so that assets purchased with money obtained through crime could be seized by the government. This led to the formation of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).

In 1997 a Garda witness in court named Patrick 'Dutchy' Holland as the man suspected of shooting Guerin. Holland was a former US Marine, though he was from Dublin. He was never convicted of the murder and he denied the accusation up until his death in June 2009 while in prison in the UK.[3]

In November 1998, Dublin drug dealer Paul Ward was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison as an accomplice because he had disposed of the pistol and the motorbike. This conviction was later overturned on appeal, though Ward continues to serve a long prison sentence for his participation in a prison riot.

Brian Meehan, a major Dublin drug dealer who fled to Amsterdam, was extradited to Ireland in late 1997, where he was convicted of murdering Guerin and sentenced to life imprisonment.[4]

John Gilligan, who left Ireland the day before Guerin was murdered, was extradited from the United Kingdom on 3 February 2000. He was tried and acquitted of her murder but convicted of importing cannabis and sentenced to 28 years in prison; this was reduced to 20 years on appeal. To aid in these prosecutions the first ever Witness Protection Programme in Ireland was created. In January 2008, Gilligan made a court appearance in an attempt to stop the State from selling off his assets. He accused John Traynor of having ordered Guerin's murder without his permission. Despite the presiding judge's attempt to silence Gilligan, he continued to blame a botched Gardaí investigation and planted evidence as the reason for his current imprisonment. Ironically, Traynor had been Guerin's confidential source during the inquiry into drug trafficking which led to her assassination. Traynor is believed to have been on the run since the murder.

In popular culture

  • Two films have been based on her story: When the Sky Falls, (2000), starring Joan Allen as "Sinead Hamilton" and Veronica Guerin (2003), starring Cate Blanchett.[2]
  • Eleanor McEvoy features the song, Easy To Lose Hope, which she wrote in the early days after Veronica Guerin's murder, on her 1999 album Snapshots. The song was produced by Rupert Hine.
  • Heavy metal band Savatage has a song about Veronica Guerin on their 1998 album The Wake of Magellan.
  • Christy Moore has written and recorded a song called "Veronica" which appears on his Live in Dublin (2006) CD. (This does not appear on the DVD of the same concert.)
  • A road in Collingwood Park, Australia is named after her.
  • Paul Bowen, Irish singer songwriter, composed and recorded a tribute song, Veronica


  1. ^ a b c d [1], Biography: Veronica Guerin
  2. ^ a b Allen, Liz: [2] BBC News, May 6, 1998-The second fall of Veronica Guerin
  3. ^ Obituary of Patrick 'Dutchy' Holland, The Irish Times, 20-Jun-2009
  4. ^ [3] New York Times, December 10, 1997-Extradition of Irishman
  • O'Reilly, Emily. Veronica Guerin: The Life and Death of a Crime Reporter. Vintage, 1998. ISBN 0-09-976151-3

External links

Simple English

File:Veronica Guerin
Veronica Guerin

Veronica Guerin (July 5, 1958 - June 26, 1996) was an Irish journalist who was murdered in 1996 by Irish drug dealers. Her death made many Irish people angry, which brought down most drug dealers on the island. The criminal John Gilligan was later convicted of her murder and sentenced to 28 years in prison, though Gilligan said in High Court that it was his friend John Traynor who murdered Guerin.[1]


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