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The Incredible & Tragic Story Of Veronica Guerin, The Journalist Murdered By Irish Drug Lords

Updated November 5, 2019 51.4k views12 items

Journalist Veronica Guerin was known for her tenacity when it came to getting the facts. Working as a crime reporter in Dublin, Ireland, in the '90s, she had no qualms about having a chat with a hardened criminal if it meant getting a story. Her brave reporting brought her awards and accolades, as well as respect from her peers, and her direct impact on crime in Ireland had a lasting effect.

Tragically, it was Veronica's fearlessness that brought about her untimely death. After numerous brushes with several violent figures from Dublin's criminal underworld, she was murdered in 1996 by the Gilligan drug gang for what she'd uncovered.  

Guerin's legacy is an enduring one of journalistic courage and she is remembered to this day for setting an incredible standard in crime reporting. The Veronica Guerin movie, starring Cate Blanchett, brought her heroic and tragic tale to life in 2003. This list explores the amazing story of Veronica Guerin, the Irish journalist who lost her life in a quest for the truth. 

  • The Investigation Into Her Death Led To 150 Arrests

    Photo: Inside Modern Ireland / via YouTube

    There was little doubt that Guerin's 1996 death was an organized hit, and mob boss John Gilligan and company were prime suspects. Gilligan fled Ireland the day before the murder and was later extradited from Amsterdam, though he was ultimately acquitted of her murder. His right-hand man, however, Brian Meehan, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison along with another accomplice, Paul Ward.

    While on the surface the justice seems light for Veronica Guerin's death, her murder investigation led to the arrest of over 150 people in the world of organized crime. For his part, Gilligan was convicted of the sale of marijuana and given 28 years in prison – an unprecedented drug sentence in Ireland even with its reduction to 20 years on appeal.

  • One Of Her Alleged Murderers Was Legally Attempting To Stop Her From Writing About Him

    One man Irish police have long suspected to have played a role in Veronica Guerin's murder is John Traynor. The Dublin crime lord had ties to John Gilligan, and he had, at one point, been a source for Guerin. It's suspected that Traynor tipped off Brian Meehan and Paul Ward, the only two men to have been charged and convicted in the slaying, to Guerin's whereabouts on the day she was killed.

    At the time of the murder, John Traynor was seeking a court order to prevent Ms. Guerin from writing about his criminal activities. John Gilligan, after he was cleared of his charges, claimed that Traynor was "100 per cent" responsible for arranging the killing. Though authorities arrested Traynor in Amsterdam in 2010 – after being on the run since 1992 – expectations for his conviction in the Guerin case remained low.

  • Despite No Real Journalism Training, Guerin Knew How To Get Sources To Talk

    A relative late comer to journalism, Guerin started working for the Sunday Business Post as a business writer in 1990 before moving to the Sunday Tribune as a news reporter. The Sunday Independent, Ireland's largest circulating paper, hired her in 1994, and she began her career in investigative reporting, her first big scoop was that of a bishop who fathered an illegitimate child.

    Guerin's tireless work ethic was well known – she was said to take 50 to 60 calls a day and kept two cell phones on her at all times. Her background in business and finance gave her a unique perspective on organized crime operations, and she often spoke to criminals directly, giving them pseudonyms in her stories.

  • She Was An Incredible Athlete In Her Youth

    Veronica Guerin was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1958. One of five children, Guerin attended Catholic school on Dublin's north side and became an accomplished athlete. She represented her country on the national level in both basketball and soccer, and remained sports obsessed for much of her life. She's remembered for being quite knowledgeable about her favorite team, Manchester United, a topic she would use to make inroads with local crime bosses, loosening them up with football banter.