Thursday 8 December 2016

'All we can do is pick up baton Veronica left us' - Archbishop

Jane O'Faherty

Published 27/06/2016 | 02:30

The late ‘Sunday Independent’ journalist Veronica Guerin
The late ‘Sunday Independent’ journalist Veronica Guerin

Ireland must "pick up the baton" left by Veronica Guerin after her death and tackle corruption and crime, the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said.

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Archbishop Martin was speaking at an emotional remembrance mass for the 'Sunday Independent' journalist, who was murdered by drug lords 20 years ago.

The archbishop said we still live in a time of "questions Veronica would like to have seen properly addressed".

"All we can do is to pick up the baton she left us and keep that going with determination, courage, restlessness and integrity," he said.

Veronica was driving on the Naas dual carriageway near Newland's Cross when she was fatally shot six times by one of two men on a motorcycle on June 26, 1996.

She had already received several threats from gang leaders, who also warned her that they would harm members of her family. Her death sparked an outcry throughout the country, and ultimately led to the formation of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).

In his homily, Archbishop Martin said Veronica remains someone who showed integrity and courage, two decades after her death.

"All of us here today…are proud of what she did, and there are many who over these years have been inspired by Veronica to become themselves ever more people of courage and integrity."

He also said that true democracy requires honesty and integrity, and a willingness to speak out against violent gangs.

"The corrupt flourish in a society where complacency and turning a blind eye flourish. We vilify democracy when we lack the courage and perseverance to call evil 'evil'," he said.

"We vilify the men and women of integrity when we fail to remember and support what they stood for. We honour the men and women of integrity when we show our own mettle."

"I have said on many occasions in the face of the current bout of violence in Dublin that the men and women of violence have two weapons in their armoury: their guns and our silence," he added.

But he stressed that Veronica Guerin should be remembered "not as a news story of the past, but as an example for today.

"We have uncompromisingly to expose and condemn the horrible violence and corruption of those who are involved in the traffic of death and disregard for life which is the drugs trade," he continued.

"We have to support the work of the gardaí and law enforcement in fighting this traffic of death," he added. "Those who are involved in this disgusting and despicable industry will still attempt to silence anyone who has the courage to call evil 'evil'."

"We must not let them overcome," he stressed.

The ceremony, in the Church of St Nicholas of Myra in Kinsealy, was attended by Veronica's family, including her husband Graham Turley and son Cathal.

Veronica's brother, Cllr Jimmy Guerin, was also among family members.

Close family and colleagues paid their respects at the intimate service, which also took time to remember murdered Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, who was killed in June 7, 1996.

Those gathered also remembered the words of the late Fr Declan Doyle, who officiated at Veronica's funeral.

At the time, Fr Declan said: "Veronica's death is one of those events when a nation stops, when time stands still, when we look at ourselves as a society and ask: 'Where are we going?' This time of questioning is a special moment in history."

Concluding his tribute, Archbishop Martin said all who had gathered could be proud of what she did and the "courage and determination she showed".

"She paid a high price and her family and friends suffered an unimaginable loss," he said.

"Her integrity gives her still today a noble place in our recent history."

Irish Independent

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