Inquiry sought into circumstances of priest’s death in Clara
The family of priest Fr Niall Molloy is focusing on garnering support for an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death after news that a review of the case by the Director of Public Proseuctions in recent months will not result in prosecutions.
Fifty-two-year-old Roscommon priest Fr Molloy died after a society wedding in the Clara house of Richard Flynn in 1985, but nobody has ever been convicted in relation to his death. Speaking this week Fr Molloy’s nephew Bill Maher said he’s happy there are now no obstructions to setting up an inquiry.
Mr Maher told the Westmeath Independent this week that he “wasn’t surprised” a review of the case by the DPP led to a decision no prosecutions would result. Mr Maher and his cousin Henry McCourt were told the news at a meeting in Dublin with Detective Chief Superintendent Padraig Kennedy and Detective Superintendent Christy Mangan last Tuesday week. He did admit to being disheartened however.
“It’s been frustrating that the garda inquiries have taken so long to come up with nothing,” he said. “One would have thought if there was nothing there they could have concluded it in a lot less time.”
Mr Maher has always been in favour of an independent inquiry into his uncle’s death. Welcoming news last June that a file on the matter had been sent to the DPP, he said he still wanted a full inquiry into what happened in 1985 and the DPP review didn’t change his quest for that.
“I’m happy there’s no more obstructions to the setting up of an inquiry,” Mr Maher said. “Up to now people were saying ‘It’s with the gardai’ or ‘It’s with the DPP so we can’t comment’.” Now Mr Maher said the family are pushing for support – particularly political support – to set up an independent inquiry. “Already we have quite a lot of cross party support for an inquiry,” he said. “We want to find out the truth about what happened.”
Last November Senators John Kelly and John Whelan called for the establishment of an inquiry into Fr Molloy’s death. The senators said at the time that while the case was distressing enough, the fact that nobody has ever been convicted in connection with Fr Molloy’s death continues to cause distress and public disquiet. The two senators arranged a meeting on the matter in Leinster House in early March, which was attended by upwards of 70 public representatives. Senator Kelly also put pressure on Justice Minister Alan Shatter to set up a public inquiry last April, calling the case the biggest cover-up in the history of the State while speaking in the Seanad.
Mr Maher is also now pushing for a public statement from the Garda Commissioner regarding a file belonging to the case. Crime reporter Paul Williams claimed in his book ‘Badfellas’ that Dublin criminal John Traynor returned a stolen garda file on the case in return for charges being dropped against him.
“Now that there’s no investigation I would like him to make a statement on it,” Mr Maher said. “If it didn’t happen let him deny it. I’d like the Garda Commissioner to publicly state whether it happened or not.”