Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Veronica Guerin is still an 'icon' in the war on drugs after 17 years

Journalist Veronica Guerin was killed in 1996
Journalist Veronica Guerin was killed in 1996
Murdered journalist Veronica Guerin
Murdered journalist Veronica Guerin

The brother of the late Veronica Guerin has told how she has become an icon in the war against the drugs barons she had been investigating.

In a new TV3 documentary, 'Veronica Guerin: Countdown To An Assassination', former senior garda officers tell how the criminal underworld changed the day the 'Sunday Independent' journalist was shot dead on June 26, 1996.

The programme retraces Ms Guerin's final days and recounts the hours leading up to her murder 17 years ago.

Her brother, Jimmy Guerin, said her name has become synonymous with the never-ending battle against crime and drugs.

"When there is a terrible crime, they talk about the reaction to Veronica's death, or if they talk about drug dealers, they talk about Veronica," he said.

"She has become an icon. There is always mention of it. I wouldn't want it any other way. I wouldn't want weeks to go by when I wasn't thinking about Veronica."

Former Assistant Garda Commissioner Tony Hickey, who led the investigation into mother-of-one Ms Guerin's murder, described it as a "clinical and cold-blooded assassination" and said it was "the tipping point", prompting an almost immediate raft of new legislation against major criminals.

The documentary, which will air tonight at 10pm, also examines the wave of public anger over Ms Guerin's killing.

Her brother said that after she was shot in the leg at her home in 1995, more action should have been taken to prevent her death 18 months later.

"These were serious criminals who would stop at nothing. At that stage, more action should have been taken in order to prevent what ultimately did happen," he said.

"I felt what she was doing was dangerous and was exposing her. She was starting to deal with immoral individuals who would have made their point through the use of violence as opposed to a discussion."

In the documentary, Mr Guerin tells how he had to break the news of his sister's death to their mother.

"I probably drove 100 miles an hour across the city and then went in and told Mam. It is something I will never forget," he said.

Felix McKenna, the former head of the Republic's Criminal Assets Bureau, said: "It delivers a message that you may be successful in your criminal activities, but after the formation of CAB, your assets are unsafe."

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