An outsider's observations on justice :: At home in Ireland

15 October 2013


In the mornings, the children and I listen to the news over our cereal and coffee. Today is a big day. It is budget day in Ireland and it is release day for John Gilligan.

We didn't live here when he was sent to prison, but we had read the stories and seen the footage. We had heard of a woman, a journalist named Veronica Guerin, who had been shot and killed after reporting who it was she believed was behind massive drug smuggling and dealing in Dublin in the 1990s. He was never convicted of her murder, though widely thought to have been behind it as it was his thug who pulled the trigger, it was his livelihood she had exposed, and it was himself who had severely beaten her when she approached him at his home for an interview.

Instead he was convicted of drug trafficking charges and sent to prison initially for 28 years, reduced to 20 years, then 20 years became 17 years and, today, he is released.

As I sat with Jack, all innocent hunger refilling his bowl of cheerios, I told him the story - at least, all that I know - of Veronica Guerin. How she probably didn't set out to die for her cause, but how she recognized evil, she loved her city and her country, and she never gave up fighting for what she knew was right and just and true. In the face of violence and threats, she fought for the lives of others.

It's a shame Gilligan is being released today having never paid for his role in her death. But it was a honour to share her story all the same.

If you'd like to know more about Veronica Guerin and her "one-woman-war" against drugs:
17 years on: Veronica Guerin remembered for courage and determination
Guerin's death was a pivotal moment

Fun fact: Ella gets her middle name from Cate Blanchett... we thought the characters she plays - from Veronica Guerin to Queen Elizabeth I to Galadriel - were the best kind of role models for our girl. Oh, and Kate in Bandits. She was awesome, too. 

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