Sunday 19 November 2017

Veronica Guerin's son bids final farewell to his beloved grandmother

Cathal Guerin at the funeral of his beloved grandmother Bernie. Photo: Mark Condren
Cathal Guerin at the funeral of his beloved grandmother Bernie. Photo: Mark Condren
Cathal Guerin, son of Veronica Guerin and his cousins bring their grandmother Bernie's remains to the hearse at her funeral mass this morning. Photo: Mark Condren
Cathal Guerin, son of Veronica Guerin, at his grandmother Bernie's funeral mass this morning. Photo: Mark Condren
Nine year-old Cathal at the funeral of his beloved mother Veronica.
Cathal in the arms of his father Graham at Veronica's funeral in 1996.

These are the harrowing images of Cathal Guerin, the son of murdered journalist Veronica Guerin, saying goodbye to his beloved grandmother Bernie.

Cathal was only seven years old when his mother Veronica was murdered, and seventeen years on, he must say goodbye to another key maternal figure in his life.

Veronica was shot dead by the gang controlled by drug trafficker John Gilligan. He was never convicted in relation to the killing but was jailed for 17 years on drug charges.

After the murder, Veronica's mother Bernie Guerin campaigned for money seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau - which was established in the wake of her daughter's death - to be used to help communities destroyed by drugs.

Touching mages of Cathal saying goodbye to his mother in 1996 struck a cord with the whole nation. They proved to be a deep reminder of the savagery inflicted on innocent victims by Ireland's gangs.

Seven-year-old Cathal Guerin lost his mother due to the callousness of others.

The late Bernie Guerin once said: "Veronica had so much sympathy for [communities destroyed by drugs] and the least she deserves is that something will be done in her memory - afterall, the Criminal Assets Bureau was set up as a direct response to her murder."

Bernie was mourned by Cathal and his father Graham, and her children Martin, Jimmy, Marie-Therese and Clare, at the Church of Our Lady of Mercy, Artane.

Fr Michael O’Grady said that all were grieving the loss of a much loved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and friend.

He prayed that Bernie (84) would be reunited with her husband Chris and daughter Veronica and all of those who she mourned in this life.

“Sometimes we look for heroes in all the wrong places and heroes should be ordinary people who do extraordinary things – like Bernie,” he said.

“Bernie’s faith was very important to her, it helped her as she was forced to carry heavy crosses in life, especially the death of Veronica.”

Her son Martin thanked the staff of Tralee General Hospital for their medical care and compassion shown to his mother in her final days.

The editor of the Sunday Independent Anne Harris, Irish Independent special correspondent Paul Williams and former Fianna Fail politician Sean Haughey were also in attendance.

Bernie's funeral was followed immediately by burial in St. Fintan's Cemetery, Sutton.

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