Friday 9 December 2016

'It’s a grotesque insult to the memory of Veronica Guerin' - Paul Williams on his confrontation with drug- lord John Gilligan

Published 26/11/2016 | 00:23

Paul Williams: State of Fear airs Monday, November 28 and Tuesday, November 29 at 10pm on TV3.
Paul Williams: State of Fear airs Monday, November 28 and Tuesday, November 29 at 10pm on TV3.

Crime correspondent and broadcaster Paul Williams admits he “lost it” when he confronted drug-lord John Gilligan living on the grounds of the gangster’s former sprawling equestrian centre in Co Kildare.

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The Irish Independent journalist said the criminal who was the chief suspect – but never convicted- of the murder of his friend and colleague Veronica Guerin twenty years ago – is thumbing his nose at the Irish State and people by living beside the Jessbrook equestrian centre.

“It’s a grotesque insult to the memory of Veronica Guerin,” he said of the Sunday Independent crime reporter who was gunned down by hitman Patrick ‘Dutchy’ Holland as she was driving on the Naas dual carriageway on June 26, 1996.

The award-winning journalist said the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) was “set up to take Jessbrook from Gilligan (65).

"And now after 20 years, he’s  effectively a tenant of the CAB,” he said of the property that has been lying idle for years after it was seized from Gilligan by the CAB but was sold in 2014.

Speaking as a guest on The Late Late Show last night, Mr Williams said:  “John Gilligan has spent €15-€20m of taxpayers money so he can play ducks and drakes with the law.”

Gilligan (65) was acquitted of Veronica's murder - but he remains the chief suspect.

He was eventually convicted of drug trafficking in 2001, and was initially handed a 28-year-sentence, which was eventually reduced on appeal.

Gilligan was freed from Portlaoise Prison on October 15, 2013.

Footage of Williams' visit to Jessbrook House last month and a poignant tribute to Veronica Guerin as he retraces the steps of her callous murder will feature in a documentary on TV3 on Monday and Tuesday called Paul Williams: State of Fear’.

This new two-part series sees crime journalist and writer Paul Williams go on a personal journey, comparing the horrific events of 1996 which saw the assassination of journalist Veronica Guerin, to 2016 and the spate of murders in recent months, to understand if we are winning or losing the war on crime and if we’re still living in a state of fear.

The programme features new footage of John Gilligan and Paul also speaks to a number of prominent people in Irish media, most of whom were colleagues of Veronica’s as well as Veronica’s brother Jimmy.

Following on from the two-part crime documentary on Wednesday 30th November, Pat Kenny Tonight will also hone in on the subject of organised crime in Ireland. Pat and Colette will be joined in studio by special guests to debate if anything has improved in the last twenty years or if we are all still living in fear.

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