Áras hopeful 'using slain Veronica to get publicity'
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.
Independent councillor Jimmy Guerin spoke at a meeting of Fingal County Council attended by presidential hopefuls and took issue with comments made in recent weeks by freelance journalist Gemma O'Doherty.
Addressing a public meeting in Waterford recently Ms 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."
Ms Guerin (37) was shot dead in 1996. Convicted drug dealer John Gilligan 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 an emotional address to the council Mr Guerin said Ms O'Doherty's remarks were "hurtful". Ms O'Doherty - who previously worked for the Irish Independent and made a confidential settlement after being dismissed by the paper - did not attend the meeting.
"These hurtful, poisonous, unfounded allegations that Ms O'Doherty makes insult not only Veronica's memory but the many gardaí who literally put their lives on the line in challenging the gangs that were responsible for her killing," he said.
"There was no conspiracy or State involvement in this case....(Veronica) 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.
"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.
In a statement last night, Ms O'Doherty said: "I utterly reject the appalling claims by Cllr Guerin against my good name. His alleged offence is inexplicable.
"A member of An Garda Síochána informed me it was his belief that a State official colluded with individuals who wanted Veronica Guerin silenced. I have no reason to doubt him because he is an honest man.
"This has nothing to do with my presidential campaign but I believe it a desperate attempt to smear my good name and my chances of getting a nomination."