Presidential hopeful Gemma O’Doherty excoriated by Veronica Guerin’s brother

‘Only John Gilligan and Gemma O’Doherty say he is not responsible for Veronica’s death’: Jimmy Guerin

Councillor Jimmy Guerin has addressed the Fingal County Council, saying he does not believe the State colluded in the murder of his sister, journalist Veronica Guerin, in June 1996. Video: Fingal County Council

Fingal councillor Jimmy Guerin, the brother of Veronica Guerin, excoriated independent presidential candidate Gemma O'Doherty over her allegations the State was involved in the murder of the investigative journalist.

Describing her allegations as hurtful, offensive and “disgusting”, Cllr Guerin told a meeting of Fingal County Council to decide presidential nominations he wanted Ms O’Doherty to allow his late sister rest in peace.

He dismissed her allegations about State involvement in his sister’s death out of hand.

"In 22 years only two people I have come across say John Gilligan is not responsible for Veronica's murder: one is John Gilligan. The other is Gemma O'Doherty," he said.


Ms O’Doherty, also a journalist, claimed at an anti-corruption meeting in Waterford last month she believed Ms Guerin “was murdered by the State because she was getting far too close to some of the State’s very dirtiest secrets”.

In a Twitter post on Sunday, Ms O’Doherty listed Fingal as one of six councils to which her team would be making presentations on Monday. Mr Guerin then announced he would be confronting Ms O’Doherty over her remarks at the meeting. In the end she did not appear before the council, travelling to councils in Monaghan, Offaly and Kilkenny instead.

In her absence, Mr Guerin made pointed criticisms of Ms O’Doherty in a personal and emotional statement at the start of the meeting. Other councillors applauded the speech at its conclusion

“It is 22 years since Veronica was brutally murdered and time doesn’t make it easier but it hurts when a presidential candidate who in my view is going nowhere, for cheap publicity tries to speak ill of my sister and make unfounded allegations against her and this state.

“A great sense of comfort at the time of Veronica’s death was how the State and various State agencies reacted.”

Mr Guerin said: “These hurtful, poisonous, unfounded allegations that Ms O’Doherty makes insult not only Veronica’s memory but the many gardaí who literally put their lives on the line and challenge the gangs that were responsible for her killing.

“It insults the prosecutors who fearlessly brought the evidence before the courts. It insults the judiciary, who heard the evidence, without fear or favour. It insults the thousands of ordinary people who contacted our family and were a great sense of support for us in a most difficult time.”

He said there was no conspiracy or State involvement.

“She was murdered because she wasn’t prepared to be bullied by John Gilligan into dropping charges against him for a most vicious assault which would have ended in his drug empire collapsing.

“They’re the facts, I know that and I’m satisfied with that. And in 22 years, there are only two people that I have come across that say John Gilligan was not responsible for arranging Veronica’s murder.

“One is John Gilligan, the second is Gemma O’Doherty.

Mr Guerin told the meeting he would rather if Ms O’Doherty found something else to use to get publicity.

"There’s no conspiracy, no State involvement. And I would ask her to allow my sister rest in peace.”

In the event, only two potential candidates, Senator Joan Freeman and Kevin Sharkey, addressed the council. Three candidates secured proposals from councillors: Mr Sharkey was not successful in getting a proposer. The three candidates were Ms Freeman, Gavin Duffy and Sean Gallagher. However, as Mr Gallagher had already secured the backing of four councils, he withdrew his name from the contest. Ms Freeman won the ensuing vote, securing the backing of 14 councillors to Mr Duffy's five.

Ms O’Doherty could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Ms O’Doherty responded by saying she rejected Mr Guerin’s claims and she would not be silenced by anybody including him.

“A member of An Garda Siochana informed me it was his belief that a State official colluded with individuals who wanted Veronica Guerin silenced. I have no reason to doubt him because he is an honest and diligent officer.

“Veronica Guerin has nothing to do with my Presidential campaign but I believe she is being used as a desperate attempt to smear my good name and my chances of getting a nomination.”


Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times