Thursday 12 December 2019

Reporter's epic journey to another great scoop

Veronica Guerin secured an interview with Bishop Eamon Casey
Veronica Guerin secured an interview with Bishop Eamon Casey

Willie Kealy

Veronica and her husband Graham were building an extension to their north Dublin home with money from the building society. The money was disbursed in dribs and drabs — a bit for the floor, a bit for the walls and so on. One Friday evening, Graham went to look for the money to pay for some roof timbers and discovered it wasn’t there. Neither was Veronica.

“I assumed she was off on a job and thought nothing of it, but I had no idea what happened to the money,” says Graham.

Veronica had borrowed it to fund a trip to Ecuador to interview Bishop Eamon Casey. The runaway Irish prince of the Church had already been tracked down to Quito in Ecuador by best-selling author Gordon Thomas and award-winning photographer Charlie

Collins for the Sunday Independent. Gordon managed to get the bishop on tape talking to a friend of his who had travelled to Ecuador to assist the Sunday Independent team. Then they found him in the street and confronted him. Lots of pictures were taken and questions were posed, but the bishop was not for talking.

After this sensational scoop was published, the bishop sought to discredit it by distancing himself from the words attributed to him, saying that it was not a proper interview, which indeed it wasn’t. It wasn’t an interview of any kind, just the great scoop of finding the controversial cleric who had been missing from public view since he was outed as the father of a baby resulting from an affair with the Irish-American Annie Murphy.

Bishop Casey was annoyed and eventually decided the best way to deal with the matter was to give an interview. He chose Veronica, who was then working for the now-defunct Sunday Tribune, and it was agreed at short notice that she would go to Ecuador and conduct the interview. So she grabbed the money for the timber and headed for the airport just down the road from her home. Somewhere along that short drive things were changed and she ended up going to a different international location to link up with the bishop — and another great scoop was created.

“The first I knew about it was on Monday when one of the lads I was working with said Veronica had had a big interview with Bishop Casey in the paper on Sunday,” Graham recalls.

The bishop must have been happy with Veronica’s scoop because some time later when she went to New York with Graham to pick up an award, he left South America to spend a few days with the couple in the American capital.  Willie Kealy

Sunday Independent

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