Dáil confidence debate on Alan Shatter- Luke Ming Flanagan T.D.

Luke Ming Flanagan in Dáil debate 29th.May. 2013

If the Minister intends to morally lecture the rest of us, he should be aware that the soapbox on which he is standing is resting on quicksand that is rapidly disappearing under him. Let us look at the case of Fr. Niall Molloy, a former Roscommon man of the year. When in opposition, the Minister said he was going to help that family. He is not helping them, however, and the family has told me so. The gardaí tell them one thing while the Minister tells them another, and these people are at the end of their tether. The Minister should remember therefore that the soapbox he stood on when in opposition is not on solid ground.”

Alan Shatter requested investigation ?

” I am aware of all the allegations and I am aware of all the concerns. I have been for some time, which is why in 2011 I requested this matter be investigated.”

This is part of a reply given by Minister Alan Shatter to questions in the Dáil on the 30th. April 2013.

The Investigation/Examinination was already under way when Alan Shatter was elected. It was set up three months before Alan Shatter became Minister

Commissioner Fáchtna Murphy started the investigation into  Niall’s case when Dermot Ahern was Minister for Justice in 2010

Dáil Debate 17 /11 /2010

Dermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 39 and 40 together.

The incident to which the Deputies refer was the subject of investigation by the Garda Síochána, which resulted in the submission of an investigation file to the law officers, who directed that a person be charged with manslaughter and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. At the subsequent trial, directions to acquit were given by the judge.

Following representations which I recently received, I requested a report on the matter from the Garda authorities. I am informed by the Garda authorities that, following the publication of the article referred to by Deputy Shatter, representations were also made to the Garda Commissioner requesting an investigation of the matters raised in it. The Commissioner arranged for a detective superintendent to meet the persons making the representations, particularly in the context of an assessment of whether there is new information or evidence available which could be pursued. I expect to receive a further report from the Commissioner when that assessment is completed.

The Criminal Procedure Act 2010 introduced a significant change to our laws governing the status of acquittals, by providing that an acquittal can now be set aside and the person re-tried where new and compelling evidence emerges. Previously, an acquitted person was entitled to an irrebuttable presumption of innocence. However, the Act’s provisions do not apply to historical cases – they apply only to persons tried and acquitted on or after the date on which the provisions were commenced, that is, 1 September this year. This absence of retrospective effect stems from our constitutional framework.

“Last December, former garda commissioner Fachtna Murphy ordered a new examination of the case following dramatic new evidence given to him by the Irish Independent.”

Irish Independent 21/11/2011

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/cold-case-draws-a-blank-fr-niall-molloys-family-disappointed-26794190.html

Detective Superintendent Christy Mangan, head of the cold case unit, has been appointed by Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy to examine fresh details contained in a recent Irish Independent investigation.

Irish independent 22/11/2010

Replies from Minister Alan Shatter

June 2012

To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No 8 of 20 June 2012, if the Garda Commissioner has received the final report from the gardaí carrying out the examination; if he has received an update from the Commissioner; if he has received a final report on the examination from the Commissioner, and if not, when he expects to receive this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Denis Naughten

REPLY.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that the review of the case in question is not yet finalised and that a number of matters remain outstanding. I expect to receive an update from the Garda Commissioner when these are finalised. As I indicated in my reply to the Deputy’s question on 20 June, I am very aware of the concerns which have been expressed about this case, but feel it is important in the first instance that we allow the present Garda examination to proceed to a conclusion. Upon receipt of Commissioner’s report I will then review the situation.

 

October 2012

 

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter)
by Deputy Denis Naughten
for ORAL on Wednesday, 24th October, 2012.

To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 8 of 20 June 2012, the position regarding the Garda review into the murder of Fr. Niall Molloy in Clara, County Offaly, in July 1985; if he will accede to the request by the family of an independent inquiry into the priest’s death; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Denis Naughten

REPLY.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that the examination referred to by the Deputy is ongoing. The Commissioner has assured me that each and every line of inquiry is being or will be pursued. Upon receipt of a final report from the Commissioner I will review the situation.

I understand that the officers carrying out the examination are continuing to keep the family members of the deceased updated on progress. While I fully appreciate the concerns of the family, in any case where criminal behaviour is suspected it is only through a Garda investigation, and where evidence of criminal wrongdoing is available through the submission of a file by the Gardaí to the Director of Public Prosecutions, that persons can be brought fully to account. I therefore hope the Deputy will agree that, in the first instance, we need to allow the present Garda examination to proceed to its conclusion.

January 2013 

 

29/01/2013 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the Serious Crime Review Team has finalised their enquiries into the case of the death of Fr. Niall Molloy; if an Garda Síochána has submitted a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4237/13]
29/01/2013 Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): I propose to take Questions Nos. 557, 574 and 575 together.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that the examination surrounding the circumstances of the death of Father Niall Molloy is ongoing. The Commissioner has assured me that each and every line of inquiry is being or will be pursued. Upon receipt of a final report from the Com- missioner I will review the situation. I understand that the officers carrying out the examina- tion are continuing to keep the family members of the deceased updated on progress. While I fully appreciate the concerns of the family, in any case where criminal behaviour is suspected it is only through a Garda investigation, and where evidence of criminal wrongdoing is avail- able through the submission of a file by the Gardaí to the Director of Public Prosecutions, that persons can be brought fully to account. Therefore, I hope that the Deputies will agree that, in the first instance, we need to allow the present Garda examination to proceed to its conclusion.

 

March 2013

 

 

QUESTION NOS: 194 & 22

DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter)

by Deputies

forORAL ANSWER on Wednesday, 6th March, 2013.

* 194. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if there will be an independent inquiry into the death of Fr. Niall Molloy in Clara, County Offaly..

– Finian McGrath

22. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 8 of 20 June 2012, the current status of the Garda review of the murder of Fr. Niall Molloy in Clara, County Offaly, in July 1985; if he will accede to the request by the family for an independent inquiry into the priest’s violent death; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Denis Naughten


REPLY.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that the examination surrounding the circumstances of the death of Father Niall Molloy is almost complete and that a report of this examination will be submitted to the Commissioner in the coming weeks. Upon receipt of a report from the Commissioner I will review the situation.

I understand that the officers carrying out the examination are continuing to keep the family members of the deceased updated on progress. While I fully appreciate the concerns of the family, in any case where criminal behaviour is suspected it is only through a Garda investigation, and where evidence of criminal wrongdoing is available through the submission of a file by the Gardaí to the Director of Public Prosecutions, that persons can be brought fully to account.
Therefore, I hope that the Deputy will agree that, in the first instance, we need to allow the present Garda examination to proceed to its conclusion.

 

401237_484703934912824_1407685031_n

 

April 2013

 

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter)
by Deputy Charles Flanagan
for WRITTEN on Tuesday, 30th April, 2013.

* To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has already received, or if not, if he will request as a matter of urgency the report of the formal review by the Garda Serious Crime Review team in to a murder enquiry (details supplied) in 1985 in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Charles Flanagan(Details Fr Niall Molloy death at Clara )
REPLY.I am advised by the Garda authorities that the examination surrounding the circumstances of the death of Father Niall Molloy is almost complete and that a report of this examination is expected to be submitted to the Commissioner sometime in May. Upon receipt of a report from the Commissioner I will review the situation.

I understand that the officers carrying out the examination are continuing to keep the family members of the deceased updated on progress. While I fully appreciate the concerns of the family, in any case where criminal behaviour is suspected it is only through a Garda investigation, and where evidence of criminal wrongdoing is available through the submission of a file by the Gardaí to the Director of Public Prosecutions, that persons can be brought fully to account.
Therefore, I hope that the Deputy will agree that, in the first instance, we need to allow the present Garda examination to proceed to its conclusion.

 

 

 

May 2013

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)

8. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will instigate a public inquiry into the death of Father Niall Molloy. [20854/13]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
 

I am advised by the Garda authorities that the examination surrounding the circumstances of the death of Fr. Niall Molloy is almost complete and that a report of this examination is expected to be submitted to the Garda Commissioner some time this month. Upon receipt of a report from the Commissioner, I will review the situation.

I understand that the officers carrying out the examination are continuing to keep the family members of the deceased updated on progress. While I fully appreciate the concerns of the family, in any case where criminal behaviour is suspected, it is only through a Garda investigation and where evidence of criminal wrongdoing is available through the submission of a file by the Garda to the Director of Public Prosecutions that persons can be brought fully to account.

Therefore, I hope the Deputy will agree that, in the first instance, we need to allow the present Garda examination to proceed to its conclusion, which, I reiterate, I understand is almost complete. I understand it will result in a report being furnished to the Garda Commissioner this month, and I then expect the Garda Commissioner to report to me.

Photo of Pádraig MacLochlainnPádraig MacLochlainn (Donegal North East, Sinn Fein)
 

We will await the outcome of that report. The Minister will be very familiar with this case going back to the time when he was an Opposition spokesperson on justice. I have had a chance to review what is known about the case, most of which is in the public domain. Potentially it is one of the biggest scandals in the history of the State in terms of the range of people associated with it, including people in medicine, the Judiciary, policing and politics.

This was a remarkable scandal where a priest, Fr. Niall Molloy, who by all accounts was beloved in the midlands community he served, had his life taken. His family deserve answers. More importantly, the people of the State deserve answers. I believe it was a remarkable abuse of power by a range of people to deny information to the people of the State, the people of the community who loved him and, more importantly, his family. We will await the outcome of the report. Sadly, it is police investigating police. Owing to the seriousness of potentially one of the biggest scandals in the history of the State, we need an independent inquiry to examine all the allegations in the public domain, which are of the most serious nature and have serious implications for administration of justice

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)

 

Like the Deputy, I am very familiar with the case. I am familiar with all the allegations made. I was familiar with it when I came into office. Shortly after assuming my position as Minister, I requested that these allegations be investigated. The Garda Síochána was the appropriate body to conduct the investigation should evidence emerge that would justify the taking of any criminal prosecution. It has taken a substantial amount of time for this investigation to be concluded. In 2011, I did not anticipate that it would take until May 2013 to conclude it. I understand it is on the verge of being concluded. I have been assured the Garda Commissioner will receive a report this month.

I hope the Deputy will understand if I, as Minister, do not in any way comment on what he has said about the matter because it is very important I do not prejudge the outcome of the investigation, that I say nothing that might prejudice any matters arising from it. At present, I am not privy to the outcome of the investigation and do not know what conclusions have been reached. I am very conscious that the tragic death of Fr. Molloy took place very many years ago. Clearly, in investigating his death, there are certain evidential issues that may be a cause of difficulty, but I have no reason to make any presumption one way or another about that.

There is the issue of the investigation into his death. Then we come back to an issue with which we have engaged this afternoon. The matter was dealt with in the courts. The Judiciary is independent and, as Minister, I cannot, nor would it be appropriate for me, to comment on the manner in which the case was dealt with when it came to the courts. I await with great interest the outcome of the investigation. I hope we will be in a position to know this very shortly. As Minister, I must then consider what happens next

5:50 pm

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Independent)
 

I find it strange my Question No. 41, which deals with the same issue, was not grouped with this. The family was told on 11 March the report was with the Garda Commissioner. On Tuesday, the Minister told the House, through a reply to a question from Deputy Charles Flanagan, that it will be submitted some time this month, and the Minister has stated this again today. Who is wrong? Is it the Minister or the officer who is supposed to be briefing the family and explaining to them what is going on in this investigation?

Does the Minister not find it bizarre that the original Garda file was stolen, the coroner’s file was destroyed, the State Laboratory’s file is not available and now we find the review file is lost somewhere between Harcourt Street and the Phoenix Park? It is not acceptable to the family that this review is an ongoing issue when the Minister told me in the House almost 12 months ago that it was nearly completed at that stage. Will the Minister assure the House it will be with the Garda Commissioner by the end of this month and that he will, soon after this, receive a report on it and, on foot of this, take appropriate action?

Photo of Clare DalyClare Daly (Dublin North, Socialist Party)
 

The drama is clearly continuing with this and there is now so much controversy and unanswered questions that nothing short of a public inquiry will suffice. The information I have is that the head of the cold case unit, the person in charge of the investigation, briefed the family and stated the report the Minister said was not completed was completed at the end of February and given to the Garda Commissioner at the start of March. This is a fact. With regard to the Minister’s statement that the family is being consistently briefed by the Garda, the family state this is not the case and they have not been kept in the loop. This is a further vindication of my opinion that this tragic case and the cover-up around it requires a public inquiry.

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
 

An independent public inquiry will probably be required to achieve any transparency and accountability in this episode. When the Minister was in opposition, did he at any stage call for an independent inquiry on this matter?

 

 Photo of Pádraig MacLochlainnPádraig MacLochlainn (Donegal North East, Sinn Fein)

I am concerned that the confines of this re-examination and report will be limited to the immediate investigation. As the Minister knows, a range of issues flow from this case which are of the utmost concern. This case is truly shocking. I had a chance to review it in detail over the weekend and I am stunned at the extent of the scandal. The public will not be satisfied with police investigating police, looking only at the initial investigation and not at all the issues which have flowed from it in the decades since, which would be of massive public concern. The State must be held to account and there needs to be an independent public inquiry, not just of the initial death and investigation but of all the issues which have flowed from it in the decades since.

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
 

I will begin by telling Deputy Naughten I am not interested in political points scoring. I am providing the information available to me from my officials. The information is that the Garda Commissioner will have the report during this month. I assume that, as I have requested, the Commissioner will report to me. It is an issue I have regularly made inquiries about since being appointed Minister. I cannot interfere in a Garda investigation and I will not do so. It is important that operational issues are dealt with independently by An Garda Síochána. I will not draw conclusions.

I am aware of all the allegations and I am aware of all the concerns. I have been for some time, which is why in 2011 I requested this matter be investigated. Deputy Daly has a habit of coming to the House and making all sorts of allegations. I will not respond. I can only say I have had this issue raised out of a genuine concern of what I know and what I have been told about the background to this matter. As I stated, I expect to receive the report. I will give very careful consideration to what is in it. I will then consider what action, if any, is appropriate arising out of the report. I do not know at this time whether the report might indicate some papers should be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions. It may be that it will and it may be that it will not. I simply do not know the answer to this. If it does, this brings about certain consequences. I cannot be certain as to what will be said in the context of the report. I will deal with it when it comes to me. We will then see where we go from that point. It is an issue I treat with a great deal of seriousness and no one should be under any illusion about it.

I say to Deputies Daly and Wallace, I am not engaged in, nor party to, nor will be party to, any cover up. This seems to be something they love jumping to accusing people of with great regularity. My only interest and commitment is to do this job in the public interest, and this is where my focus is. I will do this job in the public interest for as long as necessary. I will cover up nothing of any description—–

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
 

I never said you would.

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
 

—–which could be contrary to the public interest. I have never believed in matters being covered up. I believe in transparency. I do believe where there is a suggestion of wrongful behaviour or a suggestion of criminality that these issues should be properly investigated. I will not prejudge allegations. It would be inappropriate of me to do so.

 

 

Question from Deputy Finian McGrath T.D. 9/May/2013

Question in the Dáil yesterday 9th May by Finian McGrath TD

QUESTION NO: 163

DIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr.
Shatter)
by Deputy Finian McGrath
for WRITTEN on Thursday, 9th May, 2013.

* To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an
update on the delay of the cold case file given to the Garda Commissioner
on 11 March in relation to the Fr. Niall Molloy case..

– Finian
McGrath

REPLY.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that the examination surrounding the
circumstances of the death of Father Niall Molloy is almost complete and
that a report of this examination is expected to be submitted to the
Commissioner sometime this month. Upon receipt of a report from the
Commissioner I will review the situation.

I understand that the officers carrying out the examination are continuing
to keep the family members of the deceased updated on progress. While I
fully appreciate the concerns of the family, in any case where criminal
behaviour is suspected it is only through a Garda investigation, and where
evidence of criminal wrongdoing is available through the submission of a
file by the Garda to the Director of Public Prosecutions, that persons
can be brought fully to account.

Therefore, I hope that the Deputy will agree that, in the first instance,
we need to allow the present Garda examination to proceed to its
conclusion, which, as I have indicated, will be shortly.

 

 

Minister Shatter Mistaken – Fr Niall Molloy case

In a reply to a question in the Dáil yesterday, from Finian McGrath T.D., Minister Shatter
replied  “I understand that the officers carrying out the examination are continuing to keep
the family members of the deceased updated on progress.”
 
The Minister is mistaken, this is not the case. We are NOT being kept up to date on progress
in the case. 

 

Question from Deputy Finian McGrath T.D. 9/May/2013

Question in the Dáil yesterday 9th May by Finian McGrath TD

QUESTION NO: 163

DIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr.
Shatter)
by Deputy Finian McGrath
for WRITTEN on Thursday, 9th May, 2013.

* To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an
update on the delay of the cold case file given to the Garda Commissioner
on 11 March in relation to the Fr. Niall Molloy case..

– Finian
McGrath

REPLY.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that the examination surrounding the
circumstances of the death of Father Niall Molloy is almost complete and
that a report of this examination is expected to be submitted to the
Commissioner sometime this month. Upon receipt of a report from the
Commissioner I will review the situation.

I understand that the officers carrying out the examination are continuing
to keep the family members of the deceased updated on progress. While I
fully appreciate the concerns of the family, in any case where criminal
behaviour is suspected it is only through a Garda investigation, and where
evidence of criminal wrongdoing is available through the submission of a
file by the Garda to the Director of Public Prosecutions, that persons
can be brought fully to account.

Therefore, I hope that the Deputy will agree that, in the first instance,
we need to allow the present Garda examination to proceed to its
conclusion, which, as I have indicated, will be shortly.