Full article from The Irish Sun by Barry Moran
Family of priest who was murdered in Offaly over 30 years ago call for new investigation into his unsolved death
The popular clergyman had been battered, kicked and left to die, with conflicting accounts and unanswered questions
THE family of a murdered priest last night pleaded for help and declared: “There are people still alive that know what happened.”
Fr Niall Molloy was found dead in the bedroom of a high society couple over three decades ago, resulting in an international scandal.
The popular clergyman had been battered, kicked and left to die, with conflicting accounts and unanswered questions.
An inquest found that he died from a “serious injury to the head” and there are major questions over the Garda investigation to this day.
But 33 years have passed and Father Molloy’s family are no closer to establishing the truth of what happened that night.
His nephew, Bill Maher, is one of a number of relatives who have long campaigned for justice.
In an interview with the Irish Sun, Bill insists he knows what really happened in Kilcoursey House in Clara, Co Offaly.
He said: “What we are asking for is a full independent investigation, separate from An Garda Siochana, to establish what happened.
“That is what we’ve been after since day one. We want someone with the power to compel people to testify.
“An independent commission without the gardai is what we are asking for.”
Bill told how some family members were critical of the Garda Ombudsman report, which came out last month.
He said: “We were obviously unhappy with the GSOC findings and how long it took to publish them. We were told they were waiting on replies but the report was completed long before we were given access to it.
“A lot of the information about the case that’s out there, we have had to discover it ourselves.
“There is a great support for the campaign among Niall’s parishioners and friends, they feel very strongly that there is a need for justice.
“This has hung over the community for far too long. There are still people who know the truth about Niall’s murder.
“I know what happened and I would warn that the truth will come out some day.
“Multiple people who witnessed what happened are in a position to do the right thing and are still out there. We can’t give up and we won’t give up.”
Fr Molloy was found dead in the home of friends Therese Flynn and her husband Richard in July 1985.
The 52-year-old cleric was battered to death shortly after requesting the return of a large sum of money — £11,000 in punts — owed to him after a failed land deal.
Fr Molloy kept several horses in stables at the Flynns’ property.
The attack took place the day after the wedding of their daughter Maureen in the luxury house.
Richard Flynn was later charged with the priest’s manslaughter, but acquitted after the jury was controversially directed by the judge to find the defendant not guilty.
It later emerged that the judge who ordered the acquittal — Frank Roe — was friends with the Flynn family and should not have heard the case.
The family of the slain priest have fought a long battle to restart an investigation into his death.
Bill added: “There is an online petition calling for justice and there is great support for Niall from his former parishioners. He was a very popular man.
“People still feel extremely strongly about what happened. It’s been more than three decades and people are still outraged.”
In May 2015, a government review of the mystery backed a decision from the DPP not to have a fresh inquiry into his mysterious passing.
Richard Flynn’s defence lawyers claimed head injuries sustained by the priest could have been the result of a fall following a heart attack.
But the post-mortem examination found his death was due to severe head injuries, and that he would have taken more than six hours to die.
Flynn said in court that a row had broken out, claiming it was when Fr Molloy joined him and his wife for a drink after the wedding.
He alleged that the priest and Therese attacked him in a dispute over who would get the next drink, claiming to have hit him two or three times.
Judge Roe decided Flynn had struck Fr Molloy in self-defence and directed the jury at Dublin’s Circuit Criminal Court to acquit him.
And in a move to quash “unpleasant talk” at the time, he told the jury there was no evidence of impropriety on the part of Fr Molloy and Mrs Flynn, insisting: “It is clear from all the evidence that the relationship was perfectly proper.”
But the medical conclusion was strongly contested by experts who found that Fr Molloy had no defensive marks on him.
They also found head injuries that seemed to jar with the “two or three” punches that Richard Flynn admitted to.
The victim’s furious relatives believe there were major flaws in the investigation, including the contamination of vital evidence.
Richard and Therese Flynn had long maintained that they were the only ones home at the time of Fr Molloy’s death. Other people later arrived at the house.
When a local sergeant arrived at the scene at 3.15am on July 8, 1985, he found the cleric dead in the Flynns’ bedroom — and his broken watch stopped at 10.40pm.
Richard Flynn was home with his son David and he told gardai he had struck Fr Molloy during a drunken argument. In his report, Sgt Kevin Forde was of the view that Richard appeared “calm, cool and unconcerned”.
He sat drinking coffee, apologised for bringing him out so late and described the death as a “messy old business”.
Richard was subsequently charged with manslaughter and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. But it is the belief of many connected to the case that Richard was not responsible for the fatal attack.
However, a new witness came forward in August 2012 and gave a different account of events. A local man with direct knowledge of events told gardai that Fr Molloy was attacked downstairs in the house — and it was decided “having taken legal advice by telephone, that the considerable amount of people who were present at the time should all leave the premises”.
The witness said that Fr Molloy was then carried upstairs to the Flynns’ bedroom and left to die over a period of hours.
A 2015 report by Dominic McGinn SC concluded that the “precise truth” of the circumstances of Fr Molloy’s death could not be ascertained.
He found there were “extremely unusual, if not unique, features” about the case — but he did not believe a new inquiry was justified.
Mr McGinn said: “It is unlikely given the passage of time, the death of many of the pertinent witnesses and the reluctance of others voluntarily to give evidence, that any further inquiry would have a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth.”