Tuesday 20 November 2018

'Let Veronica rest in peace' - brother of murdered journalist urges presidential hopeful

Journalist Gemma O’Doherty. Picture: Mark Condren
Journalist Gemma O’Doherty. Picture: Mark Condren
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

The brother of late Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin has accused a presidential hopeful of using his sister’s name to garner "publicity” and urged that his sister be allowed to rest in peace.

Addressing a public meeting in Waterford recently freelance journalist and presidential hopeful Gemma O’Doherty said: "I think... oh Veronica... you know she was heavily involved with criminals, criminals and very dangerous individuals. I believe Veronica was murdered by the State because she was getting far too close to some of the State's very dirtiest secrets."

Veronica Guerin
Veronica Guerin

Ms Guerin (37) was shot dead on June 26, 1996. Convicted drug dealer John Gilligan (65) was named in court as the man who ordered her murder.

Brian Meehan (49) was convicted in 1999 of the murder of Ms Guerin in the Special Criminal Court.

Ms Guerin’s brother, Jimmy, who is an Independent councillor in Fingal, used a meeting of the council today called to hear from presidential hopefuls to take issue with the comments made by Ms O’Doherty.

He said the remarks made by Ms O’Doherty were “hurtful, offensive and to be quite honest, disgusting carry on”.

“These hurtful, poisonous, unfounded allegations that Ms O’Doherty makes insult not only Veronica’s memory but the many gardai who literally put their lives on the line in challenging the gangs that were responsible for her killing. It insults the prosecutors who fearlessly brought the evidence before the courts, it insults the judiciary who heard the evidence without fear or favour,” he said, as well as the thousands of people who were a support to the Guerin family in the wake of her death.

“There was no conspiracy or State involvement in this case,” he continued.

“Veronica wasn’t murdered because she was a journalist. She wasn’t murdered because of what she wrote or what she was about to write, she was murdered because she wasn’t prepared to be bullied by John Gilligan into dropping charges against him for a most vicious assault which would have ended up in his drugs empire collapsing. They’re the facts. I know that and I'm satisfied with that.

“In 22 years there are only two people that I’ve come across that say John Gilligan was not responsible for arranging Veronica’s murder. One is John Gilligan, the second is Gemma O’Doherty,” Mr Guerin said.

“I always ignore Gilligan- he is not worthy of it. For years I ignored Ms O’Doherty but now that she is seeking a nomination to be president it makes it all the more difficult to do,” he added.

“I’d rather Ms O'Doherty found something else to use to gain publicity - there is no conspiracy, no state involvement and I would ask her to allow my sister rest in peace,” he said.

The meeting has heard from presidential hopefuls Joan Freeman and Kevin Sharkey.

Ms O’Doherty was due to attend today’s meeting but sent her apologies.

Earlier today businessman Sean Gallagher secured the backing of three councils: Roscommon, Leitrim and Mayo.

He is now in poll position to be the first hopeful to get across the line with the backing of four local authorities.

His former Dragon’s Den co-star Gavin Duffy has secured the support of Meath and Carlow County Council, while Ms Freeman was backed by Cork City Council.

A total of 10 councils will meet today and several of these will vote on who they will endorse. Candidates need the backing of four councils to stand for the election, which will be held on October 26.

Councils are restricted to nominating one candidate and nominations close at noon on September 26.

It is expected that at least five candidates will contest the election. Outgoing President Michael D Higgins can nominate himself.

It is expected the three hopefuls who now have one council nomination apiece will secure enough backing to contest the election.

A Sinn Féin candidate, expected to be Ireland South MEP Liadh Ní Riada, will be nominated via 20 of the party's TDs and senators.

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