Today is the fifth anniversary of the murder of the journalist, Veronica Guerin. The Sunday Independent reporter was killed on 26 June, 1996, when one of two men on a motorcycle shot her at close range as she waited in her car, at traffic lights on the Naas Road in Dublin.
The first murder of a journalist in the Republic sent shock waves throughout the country. The then Taoiseach, John Bruton, called it "an attack on democracy" and the Dáil marked her death with a minute's silence. In a joint statement, newspaper editors in Ireland and Britain branded the assassination "a fundamental attack on the free press". Her death led to Ireland's largest criminal investigation resulting in over 150 arrests; a crackdown on organised-crime gangs and the establishment of the Criminal Assets Bureau.
In November 1998 Dublin drug dealer, Paul Ward, was convicted of Guerin's murder and sentenced to life in prison. Another man, Brian Meehan, was accused of driving the motorcycle and sentenced to life imprisonment in July 1999. John Gilligan, suspected of leading the gang responsible for her death, was also charged with murder. Earlier this year, he was acquitted on that charge but was sentenced to a total of 28 years by the Special Criminal Court for drug trafficking offences.
Last week, a special memorial to Veronica Guerin was unveiled in the grounds of Dublin Castle. The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, described it as a fitting tribute to her memory and the ideals she defended.