CORMAC MURPHY – 20 DECEMBER 2013
A COLD case file on the mysterious death of Fr Niall Molloy (inset) almost 30 years ago is to be examined by barrister Dominic McGinn.
ALSO IN THIS SECTION
Charity’s stores ‘bare’ for first time
‘Water rebels’ defend walkout during debate
Irish language plans
Mr McGinn, a senior counsel, is to identify if there are any issues of “public interest or concern” in connection with the probe by theGarda Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT), Justice Minister Alan Shatterannounced.
As a result of the SCRT’s report, the Director of Public Prosecutions confirmed last August no new charges would be brought over the death of Fr Molloy.
But campaigners seeking justice for the Co Roscommon priest complained strenuously about the outcome.
Fr Molloy died in suspicious circumstances at a house near Clara, Co Offaly, in July 1985.
Mr Shatter published the terms of reference of Mr McGinn’s independent examination yesterday. The barrister is to “conduct a review” of the SCRT report, the terms state.
In the light of his review, he will prepare a report, which is to be published, “on any issues of public interest which may arise from the SCRT report”.
Mr McGinn will also “identify matters, if any, of significant public interest or concern which would warrant examination by a further inquiry”.
The terms indicate any further probe should have “a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth”.
Mr McGinn is to submit his review, together with a document identifying matters of public interest, to Mr Shatter “as soon as possible”.
While his appointment has not formally taken place, it is understood to be imminent.
When Mr Shatter initially revealed his intention to appoint a barrister, Fr Molloy’s family gave the announcement a guarded welcome.
The priest’s nephew, Bill Maher, said it was “a step in the right direction”, but expressed disappointment it would fall short of the commission of inquiry the family had sought.
The SCRT re-examination took place over the past three years.
Fr Molloy (52) was found beaten to death at the home of his friends Richard and Theresa Flynn in Clara on July 8, 1985.
Businessman Richard Flynn was charged with Fr Molloy’s manslaughter, but at the 1986 trial, Judge Frank Roe directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict — it later emerged the judge was a friend of the Flynns and had written to the then DPP before the trial stating he knew them.
Mr Flynn was acquitted at Dublin Circuit Court following defence counsel assertions the priest could have died from heart failure.
A later inquest found that Fr Molloy died of “sub-dural haemorrhage consistent with having sustained a serious injury to the head”.