71. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 8 of 20 June 2012, the position regarding 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. [46430/13]
85. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality in view of the fact that the Director of Public Prosecution has advised that there will be no further prosecutions in relation to the death of Fr. Niall Molloy the further steps he will take; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45678/13]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): I propose to take Questions Nos. 71 and 85 together.
The Deputy will be aware that this case was examined by the Garda Síochána Serious Crime Review team, and that a report was forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The DPP subsequently advised that, on the basis of the papers provided, there be no further prosecution in this matter.
I have recently received a detailed report from the Garda Commissioner on the outcome of the review by the Serious Crime Review Team and have studied it carefully.
I welcome the fact that this case has been reviewed extensively by the Garda Serious Crime Review Team. Under our system of law it is a matter for the criminal justice system to investigate crimes and for the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide whether persons should be charged. The Director, of course, has to assess evidence; not rumour, speculation and innuendo. It is no part of our system to establish special inquiries to investigate such killings and it would be clearly invidious if this mechanism were available to some families, but not to others. Nor is it the function of inquiries to satisfy public curiosity about particular cases; instead they are meant to address issues of genuine public interest and concern.
Wider concerns have, of course, been expressed about the case including claims that it has been subject to some sort of cover up by the State. Against that background, I am anxious to put as much information into the public domain about this matter as is possible and appropriate so as to address these claims. However, it is not open to me to publish the report of the Garda Serious Crime Review Team. First, it is, quite properly, not the practice to publish Garda reports of criminal investigations and, second, the report contains unsubstantiated allegations against named persons.
I am conscious that to leave the matter at that would allow baseless assertions to be made that I, or my colleagues in Government, have some interest in suppressing information about this case when, in fact, what is at issue is having due regard to the rule of law and protecting the rights of all.
In the circumstances, I am consulting with the Attorney General with a view to the appointment of a Senior Counsel to conduct an independent examination of the Report of the Serious Crime Review Team into this case. In the light of this examination the Senior Counsel will be asked to do two things. First, he or she will prepare a report which can be put into the public domain on any issues of public interest which may arise from the report, having regard to the rights of all those involved. Second, he or she is being asked to identify whether there are matters of significant public concern arising from this examination and, if so , whether any form of further inquiry, aside from the criminal investigation, would have a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth of such matters and would be warranted in the public interest, taking into account the fact that it is the function of the criminal justice system to investigate criminal acts. An Garda Síochána will, of course, cooperate fully with this examination.
I am taking this step solely in the interests of transparency and of bringing the advice of an independent person into consideration of this matter. I should emphasise that it does not imply in any way that I am dissatisfied with the work undertaken by the Garda Serious Crime Review Team.