Monday 12 November 2018

Murder of Veronica Guerin an 'assault on democracy' - Mary Lou McDonald

Mary Lou McDonald .Picture: Tom Burke
Mary Lou McDonald .Picture: Tom Burke

Niall O’Connor and Nicola Anderson

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has described the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin as an “assault on democracy”.

Ms McDonald today insisted that there was no attempt by the party to cause upset for the Guerin family after one of its councillors said he was opposed to the naming of the Newland Cross flyover in her memory.

Clondalkin councillor for Jonathan Graham was criticised after he said naming the bridge after Ms Guerin would “create a hierarchy of victims”.

The Guerin family wrote to South Dublin County Council on Friday and said they were withdrawing their support for the proposal for fears their loved one was being used as a “political football”.

Ms McDonald described Ms Guerin’s death in June 1996 as “absolutely horrific and an assault on democracy” and said at no point had the party tried to block the proposal.

Read more: Family of Veronica Guerin fear campaign to rename flyover turned into a 'political football'

Veronica Guerin. Photo: Brian Farrell
Veronica Guerin. Photo: Brian Farrell

“Can I also say as somebody who remembers the day – I remember where I was when the news came in that Veronica Guerin had been shot and I remember the shock of it and I remember her little boy and her husband – it was absolutely horrific and an assault on democracy,” the Dublin Central TD said.

“And from those who knew her I understand she was a fine person and a courageous woman. The idea that any of us, that anyone from within Sinn Fein or anywhere else would set out to offend her memory or hurt her family is just ridiculous and that was certainly not our intention and I want to emphasise that.”

IRA abuse victim Mairia Cahill last week called on Sinn Fein to apologise to the Guerin family.

She accused the party of hypocrisy, pointing out that the party resisted efforts to change the name of a children's play park in the North.

The park is named after hunger striker Raymond McCreesh and other political parties wanted it changed to something different. But Sinn Fein voted against such a move. .

Read more: Gerry Adams denies Sinn Fein tried to block Veronica Guerin memorial

“The reality is that Sinn Féin hasn't blocked the naming of the bridge after Veronica Guerin.  Councillors from all parties and the independent group on the Corporate Policy Group and the management of the council decided that the bridge wouldn't be named as it would open up calls for all bridges to be named and it would become very political.  The issue of naming bridges was then referred to the transport SPC while it was agreed that the plaque to honour Veronica Guerin would be re-erected and the family would be invited to the unveiling ceremony,” a party spokesman said.

“We regret that somebody has decided to turn this issue into a political football.”

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