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Veronica Guerin (2003) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • An Irish journalist writes a series of stories about drug dealers.

  • Based on a true story, this is about the Irish journalist Veronica Guerin (Cate Blanchett), a reporter for The Sunday Independent, who exposed some of Dublin's most powerful crime barons and drug lords in 1996. But later that year she was gunned down by assasins hired by the same criminal drug lords she exposed.

  • All Irish know where they were on 26 June 1996 when they learned that crusading journalist Veronica Guerin had been gunned down on Dublin's Naas Road. The film starts with her assassination and looks back at what brought it on. For more than 18 months, she'd been digging into and writing about Dublin's drug trade, starting with the youths who were hooked and working up to the big dealers. As she gets close to the biggest crook, John Gilligan, she's given a warning shot, a gunshot wound, a beating, and a threat against her young son. Her husband and mother try to dissuade her, as does a key informant, double-dealing John Traynor. What drives her on - idealism, the chase, fame?


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • Veronica Guerin is a feisty crime reporter for the Sunday Independent. When she becomes aware of how much Dublin's illegal drug trade is encroaching upon the lives of its working class citizens, especially the children, she becomes determined to expose the men responsible for its spread.

    Guerin begins by interviewing the prepubescent addicts who shoot up on the street or in abandoned buildings in the housing projects. Her investigation leads her to major suppliers and John Traynor, a notable source of information about the criminal underworld. Traynor is willing to assist her to an extent but is not above misleading her in order to protect himself from nefarious drug lord John Gilligan. In order to steer her away from Gilligan, Traynor suggests Gerry Hutch, a criminal known as The Monk, is in charge of the operation. Guerin pursues him with a vengeance, only to discover he is not involved.

    As Guerin's investigation deepens and she comes closer to the truth, she and her family become targets. When a bullet fired through a window in her home as a warning fails to stop her, she is shot in the leg and the life of her young son Cathal is threatened. Her husband Graham, mother Bernie, and brother Jimmy implore her to stop, but when Guerin confronts Gilligan at his home and he savagely beats her, she becomes more determined to expose him for who he is. Rather than press charges against him, which would necessitate her being removed from the story, she forges ahead with her investigation.

    On June 26, 1996, Guerin appears in court to respond to an accumulation of parking tickets and numerous citations for speeding she has ignored. She is charged a nominal fine of £100, and while en route home calls her mother and then her husband to report the good news. She is speaking to her office while stopped at a red light on the Naas Dual Carriageway when a motorcycle with two men on it pulls up beside her. The driver breaks the window of her car and then shoots her six times. The two flee and dispose of the bike and the gun in a nearby river.

    Guerin is mourned by her family, friends, associates, and the country at large. Her martyrdom results in the establishment of the Criminal Assets Bureau, and Gilligan and several of his henchmen are tried and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. In an epilogue, we learn "Veronica Guerin's writing turned the tide in the drug war. Her murder galvanised Ireland into action. Thousands of people took to the streets in weekly anti-drug marches, which drove the dealers out of Dublin, and forced the drug barons underground. Within a week of her death, in an emergency session of Parliament, the Government altered the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland to allow the High Court to freeze the assets of suspected drug barons. Everyone in the Republic of Ireland remembers where they were when they heard that Veronica Guerin had been murdered on the Naas Road."

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