The mother of murdered crime journalist Veronica Guerin has died, it was announced last night.
Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists Seamus Dooley led tributes to Bernie Guerin, who campaigned for press freedom following her daughter’s murder.
Dooley said: "Bernie indicated that she would accept the Books of Condolences after an appropriate interval and we were pleased when she agreed to attend the NUJ delegate meeting in Ennis. I vividly recall her opening remarks in which she asked journalists not to use the phrase that Veronica Guerin had 'given her life for press freedom.'
“She told deluges: ‘My daughter did not give her life. It was taken from her and she was taken from her family.’ Her speech was warm, generous and considered. She expressed sympathy to UK journalists on the then recent murder of Jill Dando and saluted the courage of Ed Moloney, who had taken a stand in defence of confidential sources of information. She then delivered a brief but direct address in which she called for libel reform and emphasised the role of journalists in a democracy. Veronica would have been so proud."
Veronica Guerin was shot dead by a drugs gang controlled by gangster John Gilligan in 1996.
The following is an excerpt from that speech delivered by Mrs Guerin on 6 April 2000.
Some months before her assassination Veronica received the 'International Journalist of the Year Award' at a ceremony in the Waldorf Astoria in New York which was televised by CNN with a viewing audience of millions. She spoke of the shortcomings of the 'Libel Laws' as they existed in this country.
I know in my heart, that as her mother, I would be failing Veronica at this 'Right to Report Seminar' if I failed to express my sadness that these laws remain the same.
We live in a democracy. Do we not then have the democratic right to know the full story? Tragic events, such as Veronica's assassination give journalists an understandable fear of those people who operate outside the law.
Journalists who report honestly and truthfully should be allowed do so without also fearing the 'Laws of the Land'. These laws must be amended. Society owes a huge debt to journalists who continue to expose corruption no matter where, or at what level, Ed. Moloney of the 'Sunday Tribune' deserves the congratulations of all of us here this evening for going to the limits to protect his sources.
I am proud to be a part of the 'Right to Report Seminar 2000', I think of it as an honour, not just for me, but also for my daughter, Sunday Independent Journalist, Veronica Guerin.
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