31 March 2015
Statement by Senator John Whelan
Notwithstanding the best efforts of the Gardaí and the Government I have to reluctantly conclude and concede that we may now never see justice for Father Niall Molloy and his family.
The recommendation of the review into this tragic and unsolved case of the murder of Father Molloy in Offaly that any further inquiry would most likely not lead to any positive outcome is disappointing and frustrating.
While it is almost 30 years ago since Fr Molloy was murdered, if this happened in any other jurisdiction we would be horrified and appalled that such a crime could go unsolved and unpunished. This was Clara, 1985 and there are those still alive who know the truth of what happened and continue to frustrate the investigation and deny justice to Father Molloy, his family and loved ones.
The Government and Minister for Justice are to be commended for their quite exceptional course of action in directing a review of the case by the Garda Serious Crime Review Team and a further independent assessment of that investigation by Senior Counsel, Mr Dominic McGinn.
Such a review and revisiting of the Father Niall Molloy case was first sought in the Senate by myself and my colleague Senator John Kelly, three years ago. While the review has been useful and worthwhile in terms of shedding some light on the sinister events of July 8th, 1985, it is nevertheless inconclusive and brings no closure to Father Molloy’s family and friends.
The report determines that many important questions remain unanswered and that the truth of these appalling events may never be established and that any further inquiry would serve no useful purpose.
That as it may be, the murder of Father Molloy did not take place in the Deep South 100 years ago, but in County Offaly as recent as 30 years ago. Some key witnesses and protagonists have evidently since passed away, however, there are those who in the view of this 100 page report have still not been frank, forthcoming or truthful in what they know of this awful event.
The report has served some purpose, but those responsible for the murder and cover-up of the murder of Father Molloy have served neither time nor justice.
Notwithstanding the conclusions and recommendations of this thorough and comprehensive report I continue to appeal to those who have evidence to come forward even at this late juncture, to clear their conscience, to clean the slate and to bring closure to this sordid chapter in Clara’s history for all concerned and affected.
If they do not, we will never know the truth, justice will not be served and the shadow that this casts reflects upon us all.
In this regard, I note and quote the comments today of the Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald:
“There have been concerns expressed regarding this case for many years, and it was therefore very welcome that the Garda Serious Crime Review Team re-examined it in a comprehensive fashion. The outcome of that process was that a further prosecution was not directed by the DPP. That decision will have come as a disappointment to Father Molloy’s family but we need to recognise that this is the independent process through which our system determines whether criminal charges should be brought for serious offences. The DPP must proceed on the basis of evidence and the law, notwithstanding the strength of feelings which exist regarding a case.
“As Minister I have no role in the prosecution process but I am of course very aware of the claims which have been made about Father Molloy’s death over many years. In an effort to address concerns about this matter, it was decided to appoint Mr. McGinn to independently assess what information could be put into the public domain regarding the case, and to advise as to whether further inquiry would be warranted. This was an exceptional course of action, motivated by the desire to bring the greatest possible transparency to bear.
“Mr. McGinn’s report does an important service in outlining in considerable detail the background to the case. It brings greater clarity to many of the issues raised regarding the case, and outlines how some of the concerns expressed are simply not supported by evidence. It sets out shortcomings in the original investigation, which were identified by the SCRT Review. The Report does not answer all of the questions raised, however, and concludes that the precise events surrounding Father Molloy’s death cannot now be ascertained. In these circumstances, Mr. McGinn recommends that examination by a further inquiry would not be warranted.”