'An example for today': Veronica Guerin remembered on 20th anniversary of her murder

Investigative journalist was shot dead on this weekend in 1996

Tributes have been paid to Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin today on the 20th anniversary of her murder. 

The Dublin woman was sitting in her car at traffic lights on the Naas dual carriageway on June 26th, 1996, when she was shot six times by one of two men on a motorbike.

A leading crime reporter, she had been working to expose underworld gang leaders at the time of her death. 

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin told a mass to remember Ms Guerin at the Church of St Nicholas of Myra in Kinsealy this morning that her courage and integrity stand as an example to many others.

"The democracy which we cherish requires honesty and integrity and not just individual integrity," he said.

"The corrupt flourish in a society where complacency and turning-a-blind-eye flourish.

"We vilify democracy when we lack the courage and perseverance to call evil evil. We vilify the men and women of integrity when we fail to remember and support what they stood for. 

"We honour the men and women of integrity when we show our own mettle.  I have said on many occasions in the face of the current bout of violence in Dublin that the men and women of violence have two weapons in their armoury: their guns and our silence ...

"We have uncompromisingly to expose and condemn the horrible violence and corruption of those who are involved in the traffic of death and disregard for life which is the drugs trade."

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) also paid tribute to Ms Guerin this week, calling her an inspiration to reporters worldwide. 

“The spirit of Veronica Guerin, that determination and commitment to seeking the truth, has inspired journalists across the globe,” said Gerry Carson, the union’s chair.

'Honour her memory'

NUJ secretary Séamus Dooley said that while journalism has changed dramatically since Ms Guerin’s death, the principles with which she carried out her work remain relevant.

“Journalists still need to stand up to intimidation from those who hide behind death threats and those who seek to silence through threats of court action.

“Media organisations must meet their obligation to support journalists – staff and freelance, through the provision of adequate resources, including decent conditions of employment.

“Veronica Guerin understood well the perils of freelance contracts and the difficulties faced, in particular, by women journalists in a tough, competitive profession.

“The challenge for the industry is to honour her memory by continuing to apply the principles agreed in her memory.”  

Independent News and Media marked the anniversary of Ms Guerin's death at a commemoration in Dublin on Thursday.

In a message sent ahead of the event, President Michael D Higgins described her as a journalist who "worked tirelessly, and with extreme courage, to expose a drugs trade that wrought so much misery on families and communities around the country". 

"Veronica sacrificed her life in order that some of this country’s most powerful criminals would eventually be brought to justice, and as a society we owe her an enormous debt of gratitude," he said.

Brian Meehan, from Crumlin, is currently serving a life sentence for the murder.