The 26th of June, 1996 is a day that is etched in the memories of every right-minded person on this island of ours, because it was the day that John Gilligan, by ordering the cold-blooded murder of journalist, Veronica Guerin, effectively attempted to take control of the legal system and derail every element of law and order in the country.
Already he ran the biggest drug business that had ever been seen in this state and was making millions of pounds from a business that relied on a culture of fear to survive. He employed a number of gangsters and thugs who killed anyone who got in their way, and at the time he considered himself untouchable.
However, the cold-blooded assassination of Veronica Guerin forced the hitherto inactive Government to do something. They brought in new laws to take on the drug barons, culminating in the establishment of the Criminal Assets Bureau, an organisation that for a time seemed to be hitting the drug lords where it hurt the most, i.e. in their pockets.
Jessbrook Equestrian Centre, near Maynooth in Co. Kildare, is a state-of-the-art centre that the Gilligans wanted to establish as one of the best in Europe. It was taken from them by CAB, and as Gilligan started a long jail sentence, we would all have to be forgiven for thinking that we, the people, had won and that the little crime lord had lost. It doesn’t look like that now however, because as that most courageous of crime journalists, Paul Williams, reveals this week, Gilligan is back living in the Jessbrook estate, and when Williams accidentally came across him there, the former big-time criminal was heading out into his garden to do a spot of pruning of his shrubs.
As is pointed out in the very powerful documentary, thousands of our ordinary law-abiding citizens are losing their homes to unsympathetic banks and building societies, but, unlike Gilligan, they cannot get free legal aid to fight their cases and they are being thrown out on the street. For more than twenty years, Gilligan has used every court in the land to thwart the repossession order that the state should be trying to impose, and he has cost us, the taxpayers, more than €20 million with his legal manoeuvring.
Twenty years after her brutal murder, it looks as if Veronica Guerin’s death was all in vain, and in a piece on last Sunday’s Independent, her brother Jimmy says morale in the Gardaí is at an all-time low. The drug lords are back in control, journalists’ lives are again being threatened, and the gangsters are in charge.
His final paragraph says it all, and I quote: “We can take houses from those who have fallen on hard times, yet with our millions and all our experts, we are unable to take Jessbrook back from the Gilligans – Dublin is a sad place in 2016.”
Wondering about water…
The newspapers at the weekend seemed to suggest that water charges as we know them are coming to an end, which they said is good news for the vast majority of people in the country. A draft report by an expert commission has recommended that charges for normal household usage should come from general taxation, which raises the question: What happens to those of us who are members of Group Water Schemes?
For a good while now, we have been part of the Glinsk Creggs G.W.S., and I have no problem at all with the scheme or its operation. In fact the committee have done great work in getting the scheme up to scratch, and the present quality of our water is first class.
However, as both my wife, Carol and I, are P.A.Y.E. workers, and are taxed for everything that moves, you would think that we would be like most people, exempt from the charges, if in fact they are done away with. However something tells me that might not be the case, which would seem to be pretty unfair, but I suppose all we can do is wait and see what happens! I suppose someone will have to pay for the various G.W. schemes, but the big question is – who?
Some local events
On Friday, 2nd of December the Creggs NS Parents Association are hosting Cooking up a Christmas, a cookery demonstration and craft fair in the school hall from 7 pm. In fact there are two cookery demonstrations and a craft demo, followed by a craft produce display by locals, including Trish Kelly Art, Flutterly Crafts, The Field, and Michael O’Rourke.
There will also be a selection of hand-made jewellery, gluten-free foods, and much more, and, to put you in the Christmas mood, there will be a complimentary glass of mulled wine, and some refreshments.
Admission is only €10, which as well as teaching you how to put up a super Christmas Dinner will put you into a draw for the main ingredient, a turkey, and there is also a draw for a signed Creggs jersey, so don’t forget the 2nd of December, school hall, 7 pm – be there.
Also, keeping it local, congrats to the St. Ciaran’s U-13 footballers, who won the Division 2 final recently, and thereby qualified for this coming year’s Feile competition.
Mary Kelly has asked me to remind you of the biggest and best party of them all, the Senior Citizens party, in Kilbegnet Hall, on Sunday, 11th of December at 2 pm, so pencil it into your diary, and I will give you all the details next week.
Finally, for this week, we in Creggs Rugby Club lost one of our greatest ever stalwarts, with the death of Derry O’Dwyer. All through the 1980s and ‘90s he was one of the mainstays of our club, particularly of the underage structure, and when it came to the regular sing-song he was never found wanting. His unusually deep voice singing ‘Summertime’ is something I can still hear, and, even though he was gone from the area for some time, we would run into him at internationals, home and away, and he never forgot Creggs or the people in the club.
Many, many years ago, as myself and Carol were on holidays in Kerry, as we drove along a road overlooking a beautiful beach near Caherdaniel, the home of Daniel O’Connell, I spotted a very distinctive red Alpine car, with its equally distinctive black roof, on the beach way down below. There were very few of them around, and, in the hope that it might be Derry’s, I made my way down to find out that it was indeed his. There was a pub on the actual beach which we adjourned to, and we had such a session that if I ever saw his car again, I put the boot down, and kept going. Of course I’m only kidding about that.
Derry was a great guy, a great family man, and a great club man, and I can only say I was privileged to have known him.
To his family, my sincerest sympathies and may he rest in peace.
Til next week, bye for now.