Friday 28 October 2016

Name 'Veronica' bridge after the SF/IRA victims

On anniversary of her murder, Jimmy Guerin exposes hypocrisy of republicans

Jimmy Guerin

Published 28/06/2015 | 02:30

Veronica Guerin
Veronica Guerin

Someone said to me last week that next year would be the 20th anniversary of Veronica's death. They spoke about its significance and suggested something should be done to commemorate her murder. As they spoke I was thinking that this person, who was full of good intentions, was unbeknownst to himself slightly insensitive. Does it matter if it is 20, 17 or as it is, 19 years last Friday since Veronica was assassinated for going about her work as a Sunday Independent journalist?

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The years do not make it easier, the loss becomes no less as time goes by. But things do happen and Veronica, who is a champion to many, becomes less of a person in some people's eyes, more of a commodity - and if you allowed it, a political football, which is hard to take.

The inquiry into the affairs of paedophile Brendan Smyth last week reminded me of Veronica. Her story about the Smyth files lying in the Attorney General's office played its part in bringing down the Albert Reynolds-led Fianna Fail/Labour coalition. She also played her part in exposing Brendan Smyth and the huge cover-up carried on by the Catholic Church. Veronica worked hard for victims of child abuse and victims of the drug lords.

Veronica was murdered because of her work. Some had hoped that for her 20th anniversary this would have been recognised and a new flyover at the Naas Road, close to where she was gunned down in cold blood, would have been named in her honour. The proposal fell when Sinn Fein decided that Veronica did not deserve such an honour. They felt there was no "hierarchy of victims", that loss is loss. Sinn Fein saw no difference between Veronica being shot down by drug dealers and drug dealers shooting each other in a turf war.

So there is no hierarchy of victims in the eyes of Sinn Fein. I wonder, do they hold the same view in the case of perpetrators? As we learned again last week, the church covered up vile sexual assaults on children: they protected paedophiles and moved them to safe houses - just like the Provisional IRA did in the 1970s and 80s and so on.

The solution was the same: find a safe house, give them a few pounds and if a vacancy arises in community work, sure, let them at it and to hell with the children exposed to sexual assault, to hell with the victims, just protect the organisation.

In the case of those suspected as 'informers', and who may have damaged the organisation, things were different: justice was abduct, torture, murder and then disappear. These are a different type of victim. Their families never had closure. They never had the chance to bury loved ones - a right that was taken away from them by Sinn Fein/IRA. Sinn Fein got it wrong, in my view. There is, and always was a "hierarchy of victims".

So let's recognise Veronica's 20th anniversary next year and let's do what she would have wanted, not a bridge in her name but a flyover named after victims.

Here is my suggestion on the 19th anniversary of Veronica's murder: let us name the Naas Road flyover after the Disappeared and the victims of child sex abuse who were bullied and denied justice by SF/IRA.

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