Saturday 24 February 2018

'She was a woman just doing her day’s work as Veronica was and taken down' – Veronica Guerin's widower sends condolences to husband of Jo Cox

Graham Turley, inset Veronica Guerin
Graham Turley, inset Veronica Guerin
Veronica Guerin pictured with husband Graham and son Cathal at home
Graham Turley. Photo: Mark Condren
Graham and Cathal Turley with Bernie Guerin.

Meadhbh McGrath

Veronica Guerin’s widower has expressed sympathy for the husband of Jo Cox, the British Labour MP who died yesterday after being shot and stabbed outside her constituency office.

Speaking on RTE Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Graham Turley described father-of-two Brendan Cox as being in the same position he found himself in 20 years ago.

“She was a woman just doing her normal day’s work as Veronica was and taken down. Brendan now has a huge, huge mountain to climb with two kids. I had one,” he said, referring to Cathal Turley, who was just six years old when his mother died.

“You’re just doing your normal day, being a husband and a father, and all of a sudden your life is turned upside down in minutes.”

Read More: Veronica Guerin’s son Cathal Turley: 'To live with that hatred wouldn't be living at all'

Veronica was killed on June 26, 1996, when one of two men on a motorcycle shot her at close range while she waited in her car at traffic lights on the Naas Road in Dublin.

Mr Turley described how the reality of Veronica’s death didn’t hit him for almost a year.

“It doesn’t sink in really until months or maybe even a year after the event, because you’re surrounded by a shroud of help. People just come out of the woodwork to help you and you don’t do the things you normally do.

Veronica Guerin pictured with husband Graham and son Cathal at home
Veronica Guerin pictured with husband Graham and son Cathal at home

“You have help from family and from friends, you have cards and letters and phone calls to get on with, so it sort of keeps you in a little haze. It’s only when all that dies down, after maybe six months or a year, when you’re on your own and you have to get back up on the horse’s back and kick on,” he said.

Reflecting on that horrifying day in 1996, he said it passed him by in “a total haze”.

“The day was a normal day to me. Veronica and myself and Cathal were in the garden on June 26 that morning, we were a little bit late going to Malahide and Veronica was heading to the court in Naas as we all know,” he said, recalling that Cathal had come with him to the job at a train station.

“I just vaguely remember Cathal crying because a guard from Coolock came into the site and said I had to go to Coolock garda station, and I insisted on driving my own car, thinking I was coming back. Little did I know.”

Cathal is now 26 and living in Dubai. Mr Turley described his son as “a chip off the old block”: “Cathal has got this aura about him, there’s a halo about him no matter where he goes. He has a buzz in him, and it was his mother’s buzz.”

During the interview, he also discussed his admiration for Veronica’s work and how she “never got put down” in her pursuit of a story.

“She had made her mind up what she wanted to do. There was no such thing as second best for Veronica, be it football or basketball or her business or her work. She wanted to be the best,” he said.

As the 20 anniversary of Veronica’s death approaches, Mr Turley said “nothing has changed” in the battle against gangland crime since that time.

Graham and Cathal Turley with Bernie Guerin.
Graham and Cathal Turley with Bernie Guerin.

He said he believes the gangland violence that took his beloved wife’s life two decades ago is just as brutal today.

“It looks as if nothing has changed in 20 years. CAB was great at the time when it came out, and it was said that this would be sorted after Veronica’s murder, but 20 years down the road, crime in Dublin is the same,” he said.

“Nothing has changed, there’s a shooting every week.”

Mr Turley argued for pay increases for gardaí, saying: “What incentive is there for a guard to go out and put his life on the line?”

He added: “The resources for the guards should be limitless. They should have everything they need.”

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