Obituary: Veronica Guerin

The crime reporter Veronica Guerin, who was gunned down in an apparent reprisal attack by Dublin gangland assassins yesterday, was as fearless a reporter as it was possible to imagine. She had also crammed careers in business and politics, and a family, into her 36 years.

She first appeared at the Independent's Dublin office in early 1991, a doughty and sharp-witted character, where she was to be based for most of the next 18 months while writing freelance for Irish newspapers and reporting for the Irish television service RTE.

She came from a large Donegal and Dublin family and grew up in the Artane district in north Dublin. Though a late entrant to journalism, she made up for this with a driven energy. Conversations were invariably interrupted by her two telephones. Few days passed without her making 50 or 60 calls.

Initially she used her accountant's training and business expertise to take fraud reporting to a new level of detail - she had earlier worked in PR and in travel businesses. Damien Kiberd, her then editor on the Sunday Business Post in Dublin, said, "I have never met a reporter so unrelenting in pursuit of a story." She would fly off at minimal notice to South Africa, London or Nigeria to pursue a key witness.

The strength of her approach was also her biggest risk. She craved first- hand detail and showed little regard for her personal safety in chasing those she deemed central to a story. Gardai and police forces abroad respected her diligence and gave her detailed information.

She made the acquaintance of many of Dublin's most active professional criminals. Her subjects ranged from Tipperary farmers who dabbled in high and dubious finance, to heads of long-standing armed robbery families to the major heroin dealers in Ireland. She had also become involved in reporting IRA activity.

She was politically well- connected, serving as personal assistant to the then Fianna Fail leader Charles Haughey in 1983 during the New Ireland Forum. She was a family friend, and took Mediterranean holidays with the younger Haugheys. In 1987 she served as election agent and party treasurer in Dublin North for Haughey's son Sean, who later took over his father's Dail seat. Her husband Graham, with whom she had a son, now five, was best man at the wedding of another son.

She loved high-level gossip, retailing choice and barbed anecdotes from the corridors of power. Though absorbed by crime reporting, she hankered for political journalism and had she lived her forensic eye and tremendous energy would have been expressed in that field too.

Her other big passion was soccer and most mornings began with a dissection of the football pages. Once an Irish women's soccer (and basketball) international, she also played senior level camogie (women's hurling). She often travelled abroad to Irish soccer internationals during the Charlton years. Her hero was the Manchester United star Eric Cantona, and her prized possession a photograph taken with him on a visit to Old Trafford.

Veronica Guerin, journalist: born 15 July 1959; married Graham Turley (one son); died Dublin 26 June 1996.

Comments