Sunday 4 December 2016

'CAB should be disbanded' - Brother of Veronica Guerin calls for end to garda unit

Once the envy of the world, the Criminal Assets Bureau should now be disbanded as it has failed both Veronica's family and society as a whole

Jimmy Guerin

Published 28/11/2016 | 10:04

Jimmy Guerin with inset sister Veronica who was murdered in 1996 and convicted drug dealer John Gilligan
Jimmy Guerin with inset sister Veronica who was murdered in 1996 and convicted drug dealer John Gilligan

In his documentary State of Fear, to be aired this week, Paul Williams describes John Gilligan living back at his home in Jessbrook as a grotesque insult to the memory of Veronica Guerin. In my view, it's worse than that.

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Within two months of Veronica's brutal killing, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) was established to seize the assets of the major criminals. Its first and most important target was to be John Gilligan, the biggest drug dealer in the State and the man responsible for the murder of Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin.

Police forces came from all over the world to see what had been achieved by setting up the CAB. It was to be the new weapon against criminal empires worldwide. The CAB was the envy of police forces everywhere.

Twenty years on, it should be disbanded. Today it is no more than an insult to the memory of my late sister.

Watching footage of this murderer Gilligan tending to his garden sickens me - this amoral thug is still enjoying his ill-gotten gains, the gains he was trying to protect when Veronica was killed. CAB is no more. It has failed Veronica, her family, and society.

To make matters worse, Gilligan is a tenant of the CAB, paying no rent. The Garda press office refused to answer me when I enquired if Geraldine Gilligan was in breach of her tenancy by allowing people live in the house with her, or has the property been inspected by the receiver in the past eight years; reasonable questions but gardai feel it's not appropriate to comment on individual cases.

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

When Gilligan was released from prison in 1993, he swore he would never return to jail again. He took on Veronica and lost, it cost Veronica her life.

When Gilligan was jailed, he swore that he would return and enjoy his home in Jessbrook, he took on the State and won. It cost the taxpayer €20m in legal fees including his free legal aid.

On Thursday, September 14, 1995 Veronica drove up the driveway at Gilligan's house. It would be a short drive that would lead to her being brutally assassinated in broad daylight on the June 26, 1996.

Veronica knocked on Gilligan's door at his luxury bungalow and when he opened the door, he lunged at Veronica, tearing her clothes and beating her black and blue. He thought by giving Veronica a severe hiding she would go away and lick her wounds. When he learned that she was proceeding with charges against him, he tried everything to make her change her mind, he tried to buy her off with his drug money, he tried to intimidate her. Veronica stood up to this drug dealer, Gilligan, who was a cancer in society. She felt a sense of duty to herself and society as a whole.

John Gilligan
John Gilligan

Many times since her awful murder I wished that she had not been so stubborn, not so brave and not so determined. When Gilligan knew that he was going back to prison for this cowardly assault, he decided if he was to avoid prison and continue to make his millions, he would have to have Veronica shot.

A 37-year-old mother assassinated in broad daylight, going about her daily business, because she stood up to the biggest drug dealer in the State. That's where Dublin was in 1996; today it is in a much worse place. As we approach the end of 2016, we have seen first-hand how the crime scene in Dublin has become much worse.

Morale within An Garda Siochana is at an all-time low. The drug lords are back in control. The lives of some journalists are under threat. The gangsters are again showing off their wealth and occasionally we see CAB operations mounted as more of a PR exercise than a real attempt to seize proceeds of crime. The Kinahan/Hutch feud has highlighted that gardai are no longer in charge. They have been starved of leadership. Some of the best investigators within our force have been driven out because of their frustration at being denied the necessary resources to tackle the criminals who now run our cities.

If gardai are being denied resources then the Justive Minister has failed us and should be held to account. If the Garda Commissioner has the resources then she has failed us and should be held to account; someone needs to be responsible for allowing the criminals take back control that was wrested from them in 1996.

Since being elected a councillor in 2014, I have seen first-hand how the criminals have become more violent, how drugs is a bigger problem and destroying more lives. Criminals no longer fear the rule of law.

But something else I have learned is that if we want to get Jessbrook from Gilligan, let's employ the banks, vulture funds or other institutions who have repossessed over 10,000 homes from families since 1996.

We can take houses from those who have fallen on hard times, yet with our millions and all our experts, we are unable to take Jessbrook back from the Gilligans.

Dublin is a sad place in 2016.

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