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I life less ordinary
In the final months of his battle with cancer, TONY GREGORY sat down with Hot Press to discuss his life and career. Knowing it would be his final interview he was in a reflective frame of mind.
Jason O'Toole, 23 Jan 2009
I suppose Paul Williams is almost synonymous at this stage with crime reporting in Ireland....
I don’t like a lot of the stuff that he writes nowadays. He made a series there about the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), which I thought was the greatest load of crap I’ve ever seen, where he interviewed the very people who had resisted setting up CAB, such as the Garda Commissioner; the politicians, including Ruairi Quinn, who was Minister for Finance when Veronica Guerin was murdered, who had failed to do anything about setting up a Criminal Assets Bureau at the time and was panicking to doing it after she was murdered. And he interviewed all these people, talking about how wonderful CAB was – and these were the very people who had done nothing to bring it about. So, I don’t like that distortion of historically important – socially important – developments. I think he distorted (it) because he has his own agenda. I would’ve had differences with him over that sort of thing. But I think he’s probably been the most courageous journalist in the whole drugs thing. I rate him way beyond Veronica Guerin or anybody else. He was naming people way before anybody else. And he consistently does it. He’s had threats on his life. I would have respect for him on one level.
There was a story floating around some years back that you had an unusual connection with the Monk?
I know Hutch to talk to, but there has never been any connection with me. After the media said he robbed – well, assuming that it was him! – the Brinks Allied, I was asked by RTÉ’s This Week programme what did I think of the robbery. I said, ‘it was obviously a very well planned, sophisticated robbery. There’s no question about that’. I also said that what was in the media about Hutch was wrong – that, as far as I knew from local knowledge, he was not involved in drugs. And I hoped that was the case. And as far as I knew that – because he was not involved in drugs – the money from Brink Allied would not be used to buy drugs – because that’s what the media was saying. I got this call from a well known journalist – I won’t say his name, but I’ll tell you when you switch off that tape recorder – in the Evening Herald at about 8.30am the next morning. He said, ‘Tony, we have word in here – we’re going to run with a story on the front page that Hutch is financing your election campaign!’ What he wanted me to do was deny it.