Republic of Ireland news

EU parliament president ‘deeply moved' at Veronica Guerin memorial

A plinth marks the spot where Veronica Guerin was shot dead (PA)
Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

European Parliament president Roberta Metsola has paid tribute to murdered journalist Veronica Guerin, and said that EU efforts have “intensified” to protect women from violence.

The Maltese MEP has been vocal about ending violence against women since beginning her tenure as president of the EU's parliament.

She paid tribute to 23-year-old Co Offaly teacher Ashling Murphy, who was killed while out jogging, upon taking up the role on January 18 last year – the same day as Ms Murphy's funeral.

In November, Ms Metsola gave a speech to MEPs after Bernice Cassar, a 40-year-old mother-of-two, was shot at through the windscreen of her car and killed in Malta.

“She is one of many examples of abuse and murder of women in Europe simply for being women,” Ms Metsola said.

“Stop killing women. No more excuses. Protect women. We need action, now.”

Ms Guerin was shot in June 1996 while her car was stopped at a traffic light outside Dublin. Aged 37, she had been attacked and threatened multiple times before her death.

The memorial to Ms Guerin in Dublin Castle is inscribed with “Be not afraid.”

Ms Metsola spoke to Ms Guerin's brother Jimmy and his wife Louann at the memorial on Friday morning, before laying a wreath of white flowers at it.

Mr Guerin told the EP president about the memorial, about a DCU journalism scholarship in Veronica Guerin's name, and about how students of journalism had visited the memorial over the years.

He also told Ms Metsola that he found out his sister had been shot when a friend rang him.

Ms Metsola told the PA news agency that she was deeply moved at the monument and paid tribute to Ms Guerin.

“I wanted to pay tribute to Veronica Guerin,” she said. “A woman. A journalist, who gave her life for the truth.

“It was important for me to do that in Dublin on behalf of the European Parliament. Too many journalists have paid with their lives in Europe and that is a price too high to pay. We are determined to do what we can to protect journalists with European legislation.

“It was a deeply moving moment for me to be there with her family and an important moment to show that Europe remembers the legacy of journalists like Veronica Guerin or Daphne Caruana Galizia. We honour them.”

Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia died in a car explosion at her home in October 2017. She had been investigating corruption in her country.

“Violence against women is rising,” Ms Metsola told PA. “We are seeing too many cases of domestic violence around Europe.

“Legislation is one answer and I must say that Irish MEPs are leading the charge in the European Parliament on this.

“The EU has in recent years intensified its efforts on this issue. Last year the EU launched the long-awaited proposal for a directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence. I hope this will help make a difference.”