Friday 19 December 2014

Jimmy Guerin: John Gilligan's evil grin haunts our family

Jimmy Guerin

Published 02/03/2014 | 02:30

Notorious gangland boss John Gilligan was released from Portlaoise Jail after serving 17 years behind bars in October. But life on the outside would bring its own dangers. Within two months, there was an alleged attempt to kill him although the would-be assassin turned up at the wrong pub. It transpired that Gilligan was drinking in a bar less than a kilometre away.

I remember many years ago when I was getting ready with my wife to go to court my son asked: "Would you like to see someone shoot John Gilligan, Daddy?"

I replied no, that it was wrong to take a person's life no matter who he was or what he had done. I gave the right answer to a 10 year-old who we wanted to have basic values and grow up a good Christian.

There are times when you have to make a judgment call and lie to your loved ones because it is the right thing to do.

That same child all these years later phoned me last night with the news that Gilligan was shot – but was not dead. The sentiments we both expressed shall remain private.

My son is a man now and at this stage has his own values.

The shooting has also made me question my beliefs in respect of the next life. My mother passed away six weeks ago and I have no doubt that if there is a Heaven she is there now.

If that is the case I would say she may have even confronted the man above and questioned why so many prayers went unanswered.

There is no doubt that the release from prison of John Gilligan hurt those who loved Veronica and the pain it caused my late mother will never be known, as she was not a lady who shared such feelings lightly.

John Gilligan, murderer and drug dealer, was responsible for Veronica's death. We had to sit and listen as not guilty verdicts were handed down to a bastard who arranged for my sister to be killed.

The damage that he did will never be fixed, the hurt he caused will never heal but – here's how I really feel – the news of his shooting makes it all the easier to deal with his evil deeds.

My wife, Louann, and I sat through the trials of all those charged in relation to Veronica's murder.

It was a very difficult time, one we would not have got through were it not for each other, the support of a dedicated team of gardai and her former colleagues in Independent Newspapers.

The one lasting image I have of John Gilligan is as he smiled and looked over at both Louann and I as the details of Veronica's death were revealed during his trial.

His sick grin no longer hurts, as I doubt he smiled much on his journey in the back of an ambulance last night. At least we were able to take some comfort that Veronica never suffered. Now I have some more things to take comfort from.

Sunday Independent

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