Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil 15th April 2015
On the last day the Dáil met, Deputy Wallace tried to jolt the Taoiseach’s memory regarding his inaction on problems with senior gardaí in the Athlone area. Little did we know that at the very same time representatives of the Department of Justice and Equality were in the process of contacting the family of Fr. Niall Molloy, thereby giving them less than one hour’s notice that the Minister for Justice and Equality was about to publish the outcome of the McGinn report into their uncle’s murder. For four months she sat on a report that, let us remember, was a paper review of a Garda review of a Garda investigation. The Minister later acknowledged that the report identified unanswered questions and serious shortcomings in the investigation but concluded that it was too long ago and we will never find out the truth. Of course, she did not admit that the report’s terms of reference were preordained to have that outcome. Mr. McGinn himself indicated that his task was not to establish the truth, or even venture an opinion about the truth; it was simply to identify issues of public importance or concern that might warrant further investigation. In other words, the truth is out there somewhere but we are not going to bother getting to it.
In fairness to Mr. McGinn, he raised a number of issues, such as the fact that the Garda failed to identify and interview witnesses and neighbours; the fact that a statement was not taken from the solicitor whom Niall Molloy consulted shortly before his death in regard to his financial problems with the Flynns; the lack of forensic analysis of blood and fingerprint samples taken at the scene of the crime; and, critically, the important fact that the opinion of Professor Michael Farrell, the expert neuropathologist to whom John Harbison deferred, was not sought. Dr. Farrell’s opinion confirmed that Niall Molloy took between three and six hours to die. In other words, as Mr. McGinn indicated, the account given by Richard and Therese Flynn was not accurate. Mr. McGinn went on to note that the review did not say how it happened. Such information could only be ascertained by an independent commission of investigation, as recommended by the serious crime review.
I presume the Taoiseach is aware this is only one of more than 300 historic cases of Garda malpractice currently being considered by the independent review mechanism and that the Minister has already teed matters up so that a large percentage of these cases are unlikely to result in action. Can we now take it that the review is nothing more than a fig leaf to divert attention from serious allegations of Garda malpractice? It is a bit of a stunt, like replacing the previous Minister for Justice and Equality and Garda Commissioner. The people who submitted these cases can expect to be re-victimised and re-violated. Does the Taoiseach really think that the Molloy family, or Cynthia Owen, who was raped and impregnated at the age of 11 years and her child murdered, are going to leave matters at that? If he is serious about Garda reform, he will have to deal with the past before he can deal with the future.
The Taoiseach: The 300 cases to which Deputy Clare Daly referred involve issues that were brought to my attention in the House or to the attention of the Minister for Justice and Equality by the Deputy, Deputy Wallace and members of the public. The vast majority of these cases have been assessed by an independent legal team. She may have information because she appears to know the outcome of the examination of these cases. The Minister has confirmed that she will shortly commence writing to the members of the families concerned in regard to the report of the legal team once it has assessed all of these cases. Fr. Molloy is deceased and nothing we say in this House will bring him back. The Government considered and accepted the McGinn report in the last several weeks, after it was presented to the Minister. She has confirmed that she will commence the process of informing the families about the cases referred to her Department and my Department, in respect of which a legal team was appointed to analyse the issues arising. Many of them have been considered at various levels over the years. I do not know the details of the responses that will issue in respect of these cases because I have not seen the report of the legal team.
Deputy Clare Daly: The information to which I have access is contained in the Official Report of the Dáil. I presume that if the Minister for Justice and Equality was in contact with the Taoiseach, she would have told him what she has stated on the public record, namely, that because of the passage of time and other issues she expects no action to be taken in a majority of cases. It is not good enough for the Taoiseach to say Fr. Molloy is dead. His family know that but they have been devastated by the outcome of this report. They cannot figure out how the Government can correctly pardon somebody who was hanged in 1941 based on a re-examination of that case while expecting us to believe it cannot re-examine Fr. Niall Molloy’s case, which occurred in 1985, even though eight out of 11 witnesses present in the room are still alive and forensic evidence which was never examined is presumably still available. I do not think the Taoiseach realises the seriousness of these cases. He has not addressed the bigger picture of dealing with the past before we can deal with the future. I am somewhat worried about his memory at this stage. He has had trouble recalling certain events. Perhaps he remembers one of the cases he referred to the review panel.