OIREACHTAS

http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0368/D.0368.198606240136.htmlDáil Éireann – Volume 368 – 24 June, 1986Death of Member. – Malicious Injuries (Amendment) Bill, 1986: Second Stage (Resumed). [1059] An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Liam Skelly is in possession.Mr. Hyland: On a point of order, I would like you to adjudicate, Sir, on the sweeping and unfair allegations made by Deputy Skelly when he moved the adjournment of this debate.An Ceann Comhairle: This is not a point of order.Mr. Hyland: With respect, unless you allow me to bring to your notice the point of order which I want to make I do not see how you can fairly comment on it. I am referring to an unprecedented breach of privilege in this House by Deputy Skelly who made an unfair and sweeping allegation against Cardinal Tomás O FiaichAn Ceann Comhairle: Please, Deputy.Mr. Hyland: I want to ask the Chair——An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy, you cannot be on your feet when the Chair is on its feet. It is a well settled rule of this House that we cannot begin today’s proceedings with a post mortem into something that happened last week or even yesterday. I cannot allow it. I will deal with anything that arises.Mr. Hyland: With respect, you were not in the Chair when the debate concluded. The allegations which were made on that occasion——An Ceann Comhairle: There is another ruling, Deputy. Deputy Hyland is abusing his privilege in the House. There is another ruling that the Chair does not review rulings of other occupants of the Chair, Deputy Skelly, please.Mr. Hyland: I want to say——An Ceann Comhairle: You cannot say.[1060] Mr. Hyland: ——that I am unhappy with your ruling.An Ceann Comhairle: You may not be happy, Deputy——Mr. Hyland: The people may interpret the silence of this House as agreement with Deputy Skelly on that occasion.An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair has ruled. Deputy Hyland will resume his seat.Mr. Skelly: In relation to the Minister’s contribution on this Bill, I found it disappointing and extraordinary that he should spend 90 per cent of his speech on the exceptions to the Bill rather than the effects of the terms of the Bill and the general effect it will have in the community and on general business and small business. He has followed the trend of previous speeches he has made in the last few weeks in not arguing properly the need for this Bill but merely assuming that it was going through the House by introducing it in the first paragraph, going on to talk about the exceptions and telling us it is here, it has arrived. I would have thought that it would have been necessary in making such a major change in insurance law which affects malicious injuries to try to set out the case for it. The case that he attempted to set out in the Courts Bill was alone the same lines. It might indicate that it was coming from the same Department, the Department of Justice, and that he felt it was really unnecessary to prove it, that it was a fait accompli, something that the Government had intended to do and that it will be carried out. The key to his argument is contained in the first paragraph in which he said:

In August 1984 the Government announced as one of a number of measures aimed at reducing public expenditure the termination of the malicious injuries scheme contained in the Malicious Injuries Act, 1981. The purpose of this Bill is to give effect to that decision by replacing the existing scheme with a new scheme under [1061] which compensation for malicious damage will be available in a limited number of circumstances only.

He went on to talk about that limited number of circumstances and the machinery he is setting up in order to put them into effect. Maybe it was unintentional, but more respect than that is due to the House and as thinking people we would like to see the arguments for bringing in this legislation and not simply to hear that the intention is to reduce public expenditure because this is what we generally want to do in any event and a very handy £20 million is there in the cost of claims relating to 1985 which we will be able to pick up in order to help the economy.

After those two sentences the Minister went on to talk about the new scheme and the protection it will give in a very limited number of cases and these new arrangements that we have first of all from recoupment from the Exchequer of compensation awards by local authorities under this new scheme — I suppose that is the sweetner. He said that under the new arrangements damage to property will be compensated in three circumstances: (1) where the damage is caused during a riot; (2) where it results from an act committed maliciously by an unlawful organisation; and (3) when it results from an act committed maliciously by an organisation outside the State.

Under normal circumstances — if we take it for the moment that normal circumstances do not obtain in that there is an element of terrorism and there are unlawful and illegal organisations operating in the State and very much so in the northern part of the country — there would be very few instances which would give rise to a claim because we are depending on riots which are civil disorder, on unlawful organisations or an organisation from outside the State to cause this damage. One could almost say in truth that in the normal course of events we will have no need to call on these exceptions. However, the Minister goes on to talk about the exceptions for [1062] the remainder of his speech in total. That is extraordinary. What is worrying everybody is, of course, the removal of this protection from malicious injuries and that this £20 million would be passed on to a section of the community, in many cases, probably mostly, to the hard pressed businesses in the community, and in most cases to those people who are fortunate or unfortunate enough, depending on how you look at it, to be resident in or have a business in or around built up or city areas.

The Minister pointed out that insurance companies may refuse to give cover for malicious damage in some individual cases but we get no consolation from this point that he makes because he merely points out that it is very likely that similar difficulties exist already in relation to other insurable risks and that if a problem arises in an individual case the Department of Industry and Commerce will be prepared to examine the matter to see what can be done. Is that a promise? Is the Minister saying the Department of Industry and Commerce will do something about it or are we creating more bureaucracy? Are we being unfair to the Department and their personnel who will be at the other end of the complaints line? The Minister has not made any concrete proposals because he does not say what will happen in the event of insurance companies not providing cover in certain circumstances. I can see abuse being meted out to those officials.

Has the Minister consulted the Minister for the Public Service because the Department of the Public Service have been doing a public relations job to try to improve the relationship between the Civil Service and the public? They have been successful in this regard because we do not hear about the 97 per cent of successful outcomes to complaints but only about those who are dissatisfied with the service. This Department, like the Department of Social Welfare where, no matter what you do, you are likely to incur the wrath of someone, will cause a problem. We do not know if the Department of Industry and Commerce are prepared to get into the area of risk. [1063] Perhaps this can be dealt with on Committee Stage.

During the last year or so this problem was also discussed in regard to banks who are not prepared to take up risks. Other Members and I suggested that the Government should step into that area either by subsidising the banks or by stepping in themselves. They did so by setting up the National Development Corporation. In this area, the Minister should also be more specific and decide whether the Department will become involved because it is obvious that there will be problems in cases where insurance companies refuse to pay. This happens at present in the case of young drivers who are refused insurance expect at exorbitant rates which make it impossible for them to avail of it. Whole areas of cities and towns will be a no man’s land as far as insurance companies are concerned.

It is very easy to point out those areas in Dublin. There is a high crime rate and malicious damage is carried out at the drop of a hat. As usual late on Saturday I left my home in Dublin west to buy the newspapers and I counted five bus shelters which had been smashed. This was due to the actions of the crowds coming from the fireworks display. I read that blocks were thrown through windows of business premises around the city and the corporation were blamed for not clearing away the building material before the weekend. I am just pointing out the level of vandalism and malicious damage. People passing by see a pile of bricks and throw them through a window. Not alone is the window smashed and its contents damaged but there may also be a loss of property because of a subsequent robbery. There will be whole areas of Dublin which cannot be insured.

The insurance companies are having a field day in Dáil Éireann because we are bending over backwards to change the law to suit them. We are even abolishing juries in civil cases and, as a bonus, we are getting rid of compensation for malicious injuries which means that premiums will be much higher which, in turn, means more profits for the insurance companies. [1064] Insurance companies do not deserve any help from this or any Government to make more profits. That is what it is all about and no matter who is involved, the unfortunate victim of a road traffic accident, a person injured at work as the result of an industrial accident, an inner city householder or business occupier, the insurance company will take their pound of flesh.

Insurance companies must be one of the most despised industries in the world and they should examine their consciences to find out why people have so little praise for them. It is not very difficult to find the answer because, as far as personal injuries are concerned, it is obvious that their massive resources are not used to educate the public as is the case in regard to other companies. Insurance companies do not try to influence people in regard to abuses of the Road Traffic Act. The same applies to malicious injuries. They do not try to educate younger members of the public in regard to vandalism and juvenile delinquency. However, they commit a certain percentage of their resources towards marketing and advertising. As I said on the Courts Bill, they should direct some of their resources towards educating the public in regard to black sports, defective cars and driving under the influence of alcohol. They could do a marvellous job in counteracting other companies who are trying to get everybody to drink their heads off. The insurance companies should be in competition and should advocate drinking tea, taking part in quizzes and games and getting away from the pub mentality.

Insurance companies should also do something to reduce insurance costs in industrial and road traffic accidents. In regard to malicious injuries, they should direct their advertising and marketing people to convince young people that they should develop other interests. They should also provide facilities for them. It could be made widely known that a certain insurance company had set up this project for the youth in an area like, for example, Dolphin’s Barn. The insurance [1065] company would thereby be encouraging the youth to enjoy themselves in a harmless way and at the same time keep from becoming involved in causing malicious damage and so on. That is only a suggestion which I am sure will not be acted upon.

The Minister’s arguments is even weaker than the one used to abolish juries in civil actions. He says that in the final analysis no insurer can be compelled to underwrite a particular risk but that advice may be available from the insurance company to the person seeking a policy to reduce the risk to enable it to be covered. That is the height of naivety. Acting on such advice might cost more money than whatever they are trying to insure is worth. It might involve rebuilding a premises, calling in consultants, burglar alarm companies, adding new roofs and reinforced doors and all sorts of other things. The insurance company do not give two tuppenny damns whether the person looking for insurance can afford to do that or not.

Does the Minister not realise that a business, or even a householder, in the city area cannot afford to be without insurance, although there are lots of them without insurance at the moment? I know places around the city of Dublin where companies really take a chance; they put up signs saying one does everything at one’s own risk. They say they are waiting for the first court case to hit them and when it does they may not be able to do anything about it but will just fight it and if they have not got the money to insure or to pay up they will close down and let go. That is not positive thinking.

I have not gone near the areas Deputy Woods touched on in his submission and I do not intend to repeat what he said. He took up the problem of schools. If there was consistency in the various Departments one could excuse it. I have asked many times for the education equipment grants, which are 80 per cent, to be extended to burglar alarm systems or security systems for schools and have been refused. I am told that, unless it is part of the building plans and unless the alarm system is put in during the course [1066] of building, they do not qualify for these grants. The cost to schools all over the city is so enormous that they have taken all the glass out and replaced it with perspex or some kind of thick plastic. Equipment is locked in strongrooms and people come in and just knock blocks out of the walls to get into the strong rooms to remove VDUs and computers and all the other equipment or smash it up.

Bills for schools are enormous. The insurance companies are taking advantage of that just as they have taken advantage of the construction industry over the last number of years. The reason they increased insurance for the construction industry above that for other businesses is that they say that they will not get accurate figures of the turnover and wages of the company and the premium is based on that. They do not accept that they are getting accurate figures so they increase the rate to about six or seven times what it is in other businesses. That is the method the insurance companies operate.

The Minister is, in effect, handing us over to the wolves and we will be devoured. They have no motivation other than to make profits. Insurance companies do not care what happens to the community or to individuals. This is witnessed by the fact that they have not directed any of their funds towards community help, to reducing the risk. They will only do this if they think it will pay them dividends. They have not done it in the case of motor insurance or personal injury insurance and they will not do it in the case of malicious damages. God help anyone who has to rely on them.

I am sure this is not the intention of the Minister but I am certain that this measure will reduce employment because most companies are under-capitalised. To get off the ground they usually operate out of cash flow and are usually short of capital. As the Minister for Finance pointed out, that is the problem of most companies here. Just as we have 20 per cent of the motorists driving around without insurance because of the high cost, businesses will have no insurance and they will not survive. The responsible [1067] members of the community, therefore, will not be able to get involved and will be unable to pay the premiums. There is now a monopoly for the insurance companies who take the best.

It will not help the deprived areas of the cities or towns because companies will locate in different areas. Insurance companies look at an area and decide that it is a bad risk from their point of view and will not even come out and assess a premises. If they are persuaded to come out and assess the premises they want it practically rebuilt and it will cost a fortune. If a company does all that and still manages to stay in business and has a claim against the insurance company the premium will rocket the following year. This happens every year. This is not guesswork. I was involved in many businesses myself and often did not make claims simply because it was better to suffer the damage than have the insurance premium go up. That becomes an overhead and the profits have to be reduced. That is why I say this little sentence about advice from insurance companies is very naive.

If this matter had been researched properly and if the Minister and his officals knew what the problem was, the sentence with which I am quarrelling would not have been inserted. I do not mind people having red faces because we all make mistakes; it happened also in connection with the Courts Bill on the removal of civil juries. The Minister was using 19th century Acts to attempt to prove that the public had got rid of civil juries in most cases and that juries were used only in the Circuit Court. I pointed out to the Minister that the public had never been consulted during the 19th century, that Parliament was run from Westminister. This was not properly reported on the last occasion, but my argument was that it consisted in the main of landed gentry, aristocrats who were elected by means of rotten boroughs throughout Britain. These were the people who removed civil juries from those cases, [1068] because they themselves were being affected. The wealth of the country consisted of property and since they controlled that wealth they were powerful enough to remove civil juries. The trading classes who owned the mills and factories became the moneyed classes and they kept that system. The ordinary Joe Soap did not remove the civil juries.

We are trying to promote an atmosphere of enterprise in the country and in the community but we cannot do so if we cripple those who are trying to get a business going. It is very difficult to contemplate getting into business. Any business which uses transport or which depends on insurance cover is impossible to get going. The money is being handed over to usurers, unscrupulous people whose interest is not the promotion of business but the making of money. The Minister tells us that he is terminating the malicious injuries scheme but does not give any argument for this decision. This is a big topic but his speech went to only nine pages. An attempt was made to stop Deputy Woods speaking. He was told he was speaking for too long and monopolising the debate, but he had a very detailed, prepared speech and had all the facts and figures.

I defy the Minister when replying to give us an argument for this decision. The first part of his speech mentions that this Bill is being brought in to reduce public expenditure and the rest deals with the exceptions and ends in the faux pas of bringing our law into line with that in England and Northern Ireland. Every piece of legislation brought in by us depends on England. I thought we wanted to get out of line with that country. I advise the Minister to tell the House why he is bringing this legislation before it and we could then decide on that basis.

It is very dangerous to continue along the path of taking this House for granted and not proving a case. This matter did not come before a committee of the House, or, as in Canada, before a caucus of the Government party. It is not considered important even that the Minister be here. This legislation is intended to get though on the nod, as the numbers [1069] game will play a part. While the intention is good, how many times would the Minister be prepared to remove a Bill from the Order Paper, or withdraw a Bill which was going through the House, or change one substantially? Usually there are just cosmetic changes to save face. That is the unfortunate situation. I received no prior notice about this legislation, any more than I did for the Lotteries Bill which will come before the House tommorrow. This has happened in other cases also.

I am very saddened at the way the civil juries Bill was presented. The insurance companies got their act together in about two weeks, which proves the enormous influence they have. They are now doing the same with regard to the Malicious Injuries Bill. I can tell the House with certainty that insurance premiums will go through the roof. The insurance people will have a field day. If we want to encourage business and maintain businesses around the city areas, we will have to become involved. We will have to subsidise security watches on the main schools, subsidise insurance in particular areas and perhaps subsidise people in business to take out the necessary premiums. If that is the case, a substantial amount of the £20 million will be spent in such subsidisation.

There is another area at which the Minister should look very carefully, which is taking steps to reduce the £20 million. He could ask how the amount managed to go from £3½ million in 1979 up to £20 million in 1985. What monitoring goes on in the Departments with regard to payouts? I know there can be appeals to the courts, but who decides if a claim is serious enough? On the last occasion I mentioned that people are wont to look for an opportunity to make malicious damages claims. One individual ran a company from New York by telex on a daily basis. Some corrugated sheets were blown down on the previous night and the managing director sent a telex describing this. A telex was sent back asking if he could claim insurance damage. The reply went back that he could not, that there was no damage done. Several telexes were sent asking him to claim damages, [1070] so eventually damages were claimed. Claims under such circumstances could be reduced. The spread would then be much more even across the board. There are serious flaws.

The Minister mentioned the three exceptions which were, unlawful organisations, organisations outside the State and riots. He concentrated on how good the effect of the Bill will be in those areas. If we had a normal, stable, steady society, there would be very few claims under those circumstances. Who wants to be assured that damages will not be paid out unnecessarily in those areas? What is omitted from this Bill and from the Minister’s speech is more important than what is in it. I will not go into those areas because it is a red herring. It is very unfortunate. I would like the Minister to tell us if he was given the speech. I know the Minister is very thorough.

I have passed the stage of frustration in this House. From 3.30 p.m. I waited to try to raise a question on the Adjournment and I have just received notice to say that because it was not in until after 4 p.m. I could not raise it on the Adjournment. The tributes to the late Deputy Coughlan and the Order of Business did not finish until 4.15 p.m. Technically the Government got out of it. I was the only person who raised a question for debate on the Adjournment and this is what we have to put up with in the House. I cannot raise the Fr. Molloy case on the Adjournment. We have not been consulted about the legislation before us. It is not properly argued and we are asked to vote on it.

What kind of way is that to treat the House? On a technical matter the establishment in this House and in the country are trying a massive cover up. There was no possibility of asking to raise a question on the Adjournment before 4.15 p.m. because the Order of Business was not introduced until after 4 p.m. The Government do not want democracy to prevail. I cannot raise a legitimate matter like the death of Fr. Molloy in this House because the establishment and everybody else are playing cards together and want it covered up and smothered. They are [1071] succeeding in doing so. I will try to raise it again. It is a disgrace. As a Member of Parliament I am ashamed of this action. The circumstances under which this man died have been covered up. To deny me the right to speak on this tonight——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Skelly, you indicated that you will raise this elsewhere. It is not relevant to the Bill. I ask you to come back to the Bill.

Mr. Skelly: I will come back to the Bill. I am just pointing out that I have been silenced once again from raising a matter of public importance. No other Deputy in the House tried to raise a matter on the Adjournment so there was no competition from anybody in the House. There were about 120 Deputies present——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy should come back to the Bill.

Mr. Skelly: I am coming back to the Bill. I am making a passing reference.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: You should get back to it.

Mr. Skelly: I am coming back to it. No other Deputy in this House raised a matter today so there was no opposition for the question on the Adjournment. I have been refused permission to raise this matter on the Adjournment. A man lies dead with a pall hanging over his name and the Church, the establishment, the DPP and this House have covered it up.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Adjournment Debate has nothing to do with this Bill.

Mr. Skelly: I was not allowed to raise it——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy will not raise it now, either.

Mr. Skelly: I will raise it before I leave this House at the end of July.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The [1072] Deputy will not raise it on the Bill while I am in this Chair.

Mr. Skelly: I appeal to the people in my constituency and other constituencies to keep supporting me so that I can raise these matters.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: You will not raise it here and I will not take any threats.

Mr. Skelly: The Chair will not stop me——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I will stop the Deputy in this House.

Mr. Skelly: I will fight for social justice.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: If you are not prepared to speak to the Bill I will suspend the sitting.

Mr. Skelly: That is up to the Chair.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I will do it.

Mr. Skelly: I have to do the job I was elected to do.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: You are not doing the job.

Mr. Skelly: I am going to raise this matter about Fr. Molloy——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: You are not raising it here and now. If you are not prepared to come back to the Bill I will adjourn the House.

Mr. Skelly: That is up to the Chair.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: If you continue I will do it.

Mr. Skelly: I am just making the point that I sat here from 3.45 p.m. until 4.15 p.m. and I could not raise the matter any other way. I have now been told that I cannot raise it.

[1073] An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Are you coming back to the Bill?

Mr. Skelly: I am coming back to the Bill.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. – Death of Fr. Niall Molloy.

Tuesday, 1 July 1986

http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0372/D.0372.198705130008.html

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 368 No. 8First Page Previous Page Page  of 169 Next Page Last Page

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  asked the Minister for Justice if he proposes to set up a public inquiry into the death of Fr. Niall Molloy.

8.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Liam Anthony Naughten  Zoom on Liam Anthony Naughten  asked the Minister for Justice if he will hold an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Fr. Molloy.

[1627]12.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  asked the Minister for Justice if he will institute an inquiry into the circumstances of the death of a person (details supplied).

13.

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  asked the Minister for Justice if he intends to hold an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Fr. Molloy.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Dukes): Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  I propose to take Questions Nos. 2, 8, 12 and 13 together.

The method prescribed by law for inquiring into the circumstances of a death such as this is a coroner’s inquest, which of course is a sworn inquiry. The holding of an inquest is mandatory in any case where the coroner is of opinion that a death may have occurred in a violent or unnatural manner or suddenly and from unknown causes and I have been authoritatively informed that arrangements are in train to have an inquest held in this case. The date is already fixed, at least tentatively, for 24 July.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Is the Minister aware that when in the House on a number of occasions I tried to raise the question of what I would call inconsistent decisions by the Judiciary and gave notice to the Chair that I wished to raise this matter on the Adjournment I was informed that the question of an independent body to monitor the performance of judges was a matter for new legislation, and under those circumstances I should like to ask the Minister if he proposes to set up a body to monitor the performance of judges in view of——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  That is a separate question. The four questions the Minister is taking together call for the setting up of an inquiry.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  I should like to ask the Minister if he proposes to set up an inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Fr. Molloy in view of the considerable level of public disquiet arising from the court decision and in view of the opinion around at the moment that [1628] there seems to be one law for the rich and one law for the poor.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  That is not in order. The Deputy has brought the court decision into this and is elaborating on it. I should like to ask him not to do so.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  I tried to get around this in a responsible way by asking the Minister could he tackle this problem by setting up such a body and the Chair ruled me out of order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  No. I pointed out to the Deputy that that is a separate question. There is no question on the Order Paper about that.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  When I raised this matter on the Order of Business last week the Chair said this was a matter for legislation but now I am being told it is a separate question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The four questions the Minister is talking call for an inquiry into a death and the Deputy wants to ask, as a supplementary question to them, if the Minister will do something to monitor court decisions. That is a separate question.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  I will put a straight question to the Minister: does the Minister at this stage propose to hold a public sworn inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Fr. Molloy in view of the considerable level of disquiet?

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  As I pointed out in my reply, the law provides that in cases like this there should be a public sworn inquiry, that is, an inquest. I have told the House that the date of the inquest is already fixed for 24 July.

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  Will the Minister set up a tribunal of inquiry due to the many unanswered questions of fact, of a forensic, medical and financial nature, and the widespread public disquiet engendered thereby and given that the deceased’s and perpetrator’s possessions were handed [1629] over without being sent for forensic testing?

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  I can only repeat what I said at the outset: that the law provides in cases of this kind for a sworn inquiry, which is the inquest. The Deputy, and the House, will be aware that any issues that appear to be relevant to the case in question can be pursued at a coroner’s inquest.

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  Under the circumstances I do not think that would satisfy the disquiet that is around the country about this case. I am asking for a tribunal of inquiry, not a public inquiry, to be set up to look into the facts surrounding the case. What will be examined at the inquest will be different and I am sure that all the information required will not come out unless there is a tribunal of inquiry. Will the Minister address himself specifically to my question?

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  I have addressed myself specifically to the question and said that the law provides in cases like this for a public sworn inquiry, otherwise known as a coroner’s inquest. I do not think it would be right for me, or the House, to anticipate in any way either the conduct of the inquest or verdict or conclusion that might be reached by that inquest.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  Does the Minister find it unusual that the inquest will be taking place 12 months after the tragic death of Fr. Niall Molloy and after the court case has been held and a verdict handed down? Will the Minister tell the House who has ordered the inquest?

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  I would not find it at all unusual that the inquest is taking place following the court case to which the Deputy has referred, because an inquest cannot be held when criminal proceedings are pending. There is no significance whatever to be attached to the timing in this case. The holding of the inquest is required by Statute and the coroner in the case has a statutory duty [1630] to make the arrangements for the inquest which, as I have reported to the House, he has done in this case.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  Would the Minister feel it worthwhile for the DPP to refer the verdict of the court to the Supreme Court for judgment in relation to——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  That is out of order.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  It is not out of order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Director of Public Prosecutions is an independent statutory officer created by an Act of Parliament. He is independent of the Minister and the Minister is not responsible to the House for his actions.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  The inquest could have been held before charges were laid. In this case charges were not laid for some months after the events in County Offaly took place. Will the Minister state why the inquest was not held? Further, will the medical evidence of Dr. Harbison be available and taken as evidence at the inquest when it takes place in July?

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  As the Deputy knows, and as the Chair has pointed out to the House, I have no function in relation to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Therefore, the timing and the laying of charges or the pursuit of a case is entirely a matter for the DPP and not for me. Subject to correction, I would have to say I do not think it would be proper for an inquest to be held while criminal proceedings were pending. I am glad to have this opportunity of making the point to the House, which I made in my original reply, that the law provides for a public sworn inquiry into cases of this kind, that is, a coroner’s inquest. Any information and all information that may be relevant to the case can be brought before that inquiry and any questions and all questions that may appear to be relevant to the case can properly be brought before that inquiry and can be examined.

[1631]Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  I am not trying to question the decision of the Chair. My earlier question regarding a body to monitor the performance of the Judiciary was said by the Chair to be a separate question. In fact, I put down that question for today and it was ruled out of order on the grounds that it was a matter for the Judiciary. Yet the previous ruling by the Chair——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Deputy is now questioning the ruling of the Chair.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  The Chair has now said it is a matter for legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I ask the Deputy not to wrangle with the Chair on a decision made by the Chair.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Deputies can get very frustrated.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  If the Deputy wishes to come to the office of the Chair we can discuss the matter.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  In view of the strong feelings expressed by relatives of Fr. Molloy who have met many Deputies, will the Minister consider meeting them in order to discuss many of the questions raised by them about the performance of the Garda and some of the legal profession?

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  I can assure the Deputy that with the best will in the world — and I am asking the Deputy to accept that — I would think it highly improper and imprudent of me to meet any group of persons to discuss the questions the Deputy has raised, particularly in view of the fact that an inquest was pending.

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  Is the Minister aware that already there has been a court case about this death and that there was widespread dissatisfaction after that case? Is he asking us now to believe that satisfaction will result from the inquest that is to be held without having a tribunal of inquiry to satisfy the public?

[1632]Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  I am tempted to answer that question by asking another but it might be a disobliging question that the Chair might find disorderly. I can only repeat what I said to the Deputy earlier in response to a question, namely, that it would be wrong of this House to prejudice in any way either the conduct or the conclusions of the inquest.

Mr. Skelly: Information on Liam Skelly  Zoom on Liam Skelly  I may have to bring up this matter after the inquest.

Mr. Hyland: Information on Liam Hyland  Zoom on Liam Hyland  In view of the unfair allegations made in the House in relation to interference with the Judiciary in the administration of justice in this case——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  That is a separate question.

Mr. Hyland: Information on Liam Hyland  Zoom on Liam Hyland  It is relevant.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Chair is in a difficult position here if he intends to hold the line. If I yield in one direction I will have to yield in another.

Mr. Hyland: Information on Liam Hyland  Zoom on Liam Hyland  Does the Chair not consider the question to be relevant?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  It is a separate question.

Mr. Hyland: Information on Liam Hyland  Zoom on Liam Hyland  I respect the ruling of the Chair.

Mr. Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  Will the Minister state if the Attorney General has had discussions with the DPP in relation to the events that took place in the court regarding this case?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  That is another question. I am calling the next question.

Dr. Woods: Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  It is relevant to the question of a public inquiry.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  It is trying to open up what happened in court. Apart altogether from the Constitution, Standing Orders and so on, it would be a very bad day for Ireland if the decisions of the [1633] courts were to be reopened and thrashed out across the floor of the House in an impromptu manner.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  I invite the Deputies opposite to examine again the statute which sets out the functions of the DPP.

Dr. Woods: Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  As I understand the statute, the Attorney General has the power to confer with the DPP to satisfy himself and thereby to satisfy the Government and to make a statement if he so wishes that everything has been in order in the conduct of a case. Deputy Leyden was trying to ascertain if the Minister had conferred with the Attorney General——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  That is also a separate question.

Dr. Woods: Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  That is the one method that exists in the Office of the DPP to give reassurance to the public in relation to a case. That is the point the Deputy was trying to make.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Deputy should not make a speech about it.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  I wish to emphasise again for the benefit of the House that an inquest has yet to be held. It is a public sworn inquiry provided for by law. If Deputies would reflect about that for a moment they would rapidly come to the conclusion that in the case we have not yet gone through all the steps laid down by law in relation to a case like this. I ask the House to reflect on that.

Seanad Éireann – Volume 113 – 08 July, 1986

Business of Seanad.

http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/S/0113/S.0113.198607080002.html

An Cathaoirleach: I have notice from Senator Michael D. Higgins that, on the motion for the Adjournment of the House today, he proposes to raise the following matter:

The urgent need for clarification by the Minister for Education on the principles by which teachers will be recruited and promoted in view of the recent statements from the School Managers’ Association that conditions above and beyond professional training, competence and general suitability will prevail in the schools under their management, such schools being the overwhelming majority in the country.

I also received notice from Senator Michael Lynch of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Finance to outline the progress to date in the renovation work to the Garda barracks at Oldcastle, County Meath, since the matter was raised in the House on 20 November 1985.

I also received notice from Senator Rory Kiely of the following matter:

The extension of the disadvantaged areas scheme in West Limerick.

I also received notice from Senator John Connor of the following matter:

[1884] The need for the Minister for Justice to instigate a public inquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry Acts into the circumstances of the death of Fr. Niall Molloy.

I regard the matters raised by Senators Higgins, Lynch and Kiely as suitable for discussion on the Adjournment. I have selected Senator Higgins’s motion for today’s Adjournment and it will be taken from 10 p.m. to 10.30 p.m., or earlier if the business ordered is concluded. Senators Lynch and Kiely may give notice for another day of the matter they wish to raise.

The matter raised by Senator Connor is too wide to be dealt with under the half-hour Adjournment procedure. In the circumstances. I must rule that the matter is not suitable for discussion on the Adjournment.

http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0372/D.0372.198705130008.html

Dáil Éireann – Volume 370 – 09 December, 1986

Written Answers. – Father Niall Molloy Case.

195. Mr. Keating asked the Minister for Justice if he intends to accede to the request of the relatives of the late Father Niall Molloy for some kind of sworn inquiry into the events surrounding his death.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Dukes): This case has already been the subject of a Garda investigation, a criminal trial and a coroner’s inquest, which is, in effect, a sworn public inquiry.

I wish to make the point that the State took every possible step to ensure that the full facts of the case emerged at the inquest. Senior and junior counsel were appointed to represent the State and all of the statements made to the gardaí and [1865] Garda maps and photographs were made available to the coroner. The holding of a further sworn inquiry could be justified only if there were some likelihood that some new facts would be brought to light. As there does not appear to be any such likelihood in this case I do not see how any further inquiry could be justified.

Dáil Éireann – Volume 372 – 13 May, 1987

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. – Appeals Against Acquittal.

. Mr. P. O’Malley asked the Minister for Justice if he intends to amend the present law in relation to appeals by the prosecution against acquittal; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

19. Miss Harney asked the Minister for Justice if he intends to amend the law so that appeals may be taken by the prosecution against acquittals directed by the trial judge in the Circuit Court; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Collins): As mentioned in this House on previous occasions, parliamentary questions about possible legislation present particular problems for Ministers for Justice because of the very wide range of their responsibilities which cover virtually the entire area of the criminal law and large areas of the civil law. Accordingly, the range of possible questions about amending legislation is almost unlimited. Nearly all legislation involves extensive preparatory work and Government approval is also required. It is not practical to deal with the issues involved between the time a question is put down and the time it is answered in the House. When Government approval is given for an announcement about legislation to be made, it is [1748] done without delay in the normal course.

That being said, I will have the matters mentioned in the questions, which involve a number of fundamental issues, examined in due course when other urgent legislative commitments have been disposed of.

Miss Harney: Does the Minister believe that since the introduction of the Courts Act, 1981, which transfers most of the criminal law to the Circuit Court it is necessary in the interests of justice that prosecution would have a right to appeal a decision made by a court in relation to something they are unhappy about? Will he agree it is unsatisfactory that this court, which is not a court of original jurisdiction and is not established under the Constitution, does not allow people to have that right? Will he agree further that since this court deals with cases related to rape, manslaughter and so on, this is unsatisfactory? Will he agree there have been many cases recently where the public were not satisfied that justice was done, that they have no recourse whatever to a second opinion and that in some cases, particularly in relation to the Fr. Molloy case, a decision of one person resulted in an acquittal and there was no further right of appeal? Does he agree this is unsatisfactory and has given rise to much public disquiet?

Mr. Collins: The DPP has approached the Department with proposals for a number of changes in criminal procedure. These are being examined at present and, when this examination has been completed, I will be in a position to go to the Government to ascertain what changes, if any, can be made.

An Ceann Comhairle: I want to bring in Deputy Pat O’Malley who is offering and has a question tabled. If Deputy O’Malley is not offering then I call on Deputy Harney.

Miss Harney: Will the Minister tell the House whether he believes it necessary to lay down specific procedures that [1749] judges will have to follow if they are going to give directions to juries?

Mr. Collins: I cannot go beyond what I have said to Deputy Harney at present. A number of suggestions by the Director of Public Prosecutions are being considered. When they have received due consideration I will then ascertain what changes can be made, if they are to be made, with the approval of the Government. Any changes that might be made will be announced in the normal way.

Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): There are many Deputies in this House who share the concerns expressed by Deputy Harney but which are not amenable to easy solution. Would the Minister consider referring the concept raised to the Law Reform Commission — who have a narrow remit — when we might expect to receive a reasonably quick answer? It is an appropriate matter for the Law Reform Commission.

Mr. Collins: I would be prepared to examine Deputy Noonan’s suggestion. If the Deputy gives me a little time to look into the matter along the lines he suggests I will communicate with him, advising him of my intentions.

Mr. Kelly: Arising out of Deputy O’Malley’s question rather than Deputy Harney’s, would the Minister say whether he will distinguish very clearly between appeals against acquittals which have been directed by a judge, on the one hand, and appeals against acquittals by a jury on the other, on the basis that, in the latter case, the Constitution and the people who drafted it and voted on it certainly never intended that a jury acquittal should be anything but final; whether he would consider that the Supreme Court judgment in O’Shea’s case about three or four years ago — which has entirely over-turned the principle at least in theory — requires to be reversed by Statute so that we can get back to the old system whereby an acquittal by a jury meant that a man could walk free, which is one of the principal pillars [1750] of a free society such as ours? Would the Minister take a look at correspondence which may be further back on his file in this regard — which passed between me and the Department under one of his predecessors — in which it appeared that the Department were willing to introduce amending legislation which would exclude from the possibility of appeal an acquittal by a jury? Would the Minister say whether he would take up that suggestion and make sure that it is enacted?

Mr. Collins: I will take up the point mentioned by Deputy Kelly with officials of the Department of Justice. I will see what is the position and will communicate with the Deputy on the matter.

Mr. McCartan: Would the Minister be agreeable to make available to the spokespersons of the various parties the submission to him from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in regard to changes in the criminal law being sought by that office? I am sure that submission would be of particular interest to the various parties here in order to ascertain what is in the mind of the prime prosecutor in the country.

Mr. Collins: I am not too sure that I could oblige Deputy McCartan in that respect——

Mr. McCartan: In broad terms, not the specifics.

Mr. Collins: I am not too sure that I can. If the Deputy would allow me to discuss the matter with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions I will see if we can meet him some part of the way on it.

Miss Harney: Will the Minister ask the Director of Public Prosecutions if he will use the existing procedures available to him to refer decisions made on a point of law to another court? For example, in the case of Father Niall Molloy, a question as to the legality of that could have been referred——

[1751] An Ceann Comhairle: I would prefer if the Deputy did not continue to refer to cases which may be regarded as sub judice.

Miss Harney: I will not mention the name of the case. Will the Minister ensure that the existing procedures available to the Director of Public Prosecutions are used by him because, although they will not have an effect on the acquittal, it would put people’s minds at rest if such matters were attended to?

Mr. Collins: As I have said already to Deputy Harney, I have a number of proposals before me with regard to changes from the Director of Public Prosecutions which are being examined. Until such time as that examination——

Miss Harney: The Minister could have done so under the existing laws.

Mr. Collins: Until such time as the submission by the Director of Public Prosecutions is examined and firm proposals come to me for submission to the Government I would rather not go beyond that at present.

Mr. Cooney: Would the Minister agree with me that if changes were to be made, as apparently is sought by these questions, there is a great danger that citizens would then be put in double jeopardy?

Mr. Collins: I am advised that there are many problems and difficulties to be overcome, that it is not as simple as it appears on the surface, that the proposals — to put it mildly — would be extremely controversial.

Mr. Kelly: The Minister’s caution about this is completely right. Would the Minister appreciate that at present — in consequence of the attitude of the Supreme Court towards the expression “decision of the High Court”, as used in the Constitution — any decision of the High Court, whether it be to acquit by direction or whether it be a decision reached by a jury in the High Court [1752] apparently can be appealed? Would the Minister agree that there is that much urgency about it, that until that loophole is closed by legislation, until we get, by way of legislation, a situation such as the people back in 1937 obviously intended should continue as Deputy Cooney said, people will be put in double jeopardy?

Mr. Collins: I agree with Deputy Kelly.

Dáil Éireann – Volume 377 – 16 February, 1988

Written Answers. – DPP Office Break-in.

80. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice the outcome of Garda investigations into the break-in last year at the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions; if prosecutions are pending for the break-in; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Collins): I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 36 of 10 November 1987. [2185] All that I can usefully add is that Garda investigations are continuing.

Dáil Éireann – Volume 380 – 03 May, 1988

Written Answers. – Developments In County Offaly Case.

 54. Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for Justice if, in the light of a number of developments in the case of the death of [56] Fr. Niall Molloy in Clara, County Offaly in July 1985 he will request the Garda to reopen their investigations into the case; if, at the time legal proceedings were initiated arising from the death of Fr. Molloy the Garda were aware of the existence of an insurance policy on his life, which names Mrs. Therese Flynn as the beneficiary and which inaccurately named her as a sister of Fr. Molloy; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Collins): I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the position is still as indicated in the statement issued on his behalf on 26 April 1988 — no official complaint or additional evidence has been received by the Garda in this matter. Should such a complaint be made, or should additional evidence be forthcoming, it will be considered.

With regard to the second part of the question, it is not the practice for Ministers for Justice to make statements to the House concerning details of Garda investigations except in singular instances where the circumstances are so exceptional that such a course is deemed appropriate. I do not propose to depart from this practice in this instance on the basis of certain reports that have recently appeared in the media.

Priority Questions – Garda Investigations

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 722 No. 2First Page Previous Page Page  of 185 Next Page Last Page

  39.  Deputy Alan Shatter  Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter   asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   if his attention has been drawn to an article (details supplied) relating to the death of Fr. Niall Molloy on 18 July 1985 regarding the investigation conducted into his death and the trial that followed; if in view of the revelations contained in the report he will ask the Garda Commissioner for the investigation into Fr. Molloy’s death to be reopened so that the facts surrounding his death may be re-examined with a view to determining whether any new prosecution should take place; if he intends to ask the Garda Commissioner that an assistant commissioner now conduct an investigation into the original investigation that occurred and examine all relevant files and papers to report on whether the initial investigation was properly conducted or, as an alternative, to ask that the Garda Ombudsman undertake such further investigation and report on the matter [42918/10]

  40.  Deputy Pat Rabbitte  Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte   asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   if his attention has been drawn to the call made by the family of Fr. Niall Molloy, who died in violent circumstances in a house in Clara, County Offaly, in 1985 for a new garda investigation into the case in view of new information that has emerged; if he will request the gardaí to re-open the investigation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43092/10]

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I propose to take Questions Nos. 39 and 40 together.

[297]The incident to which the Deputies refer was the subject of investigation by the Garda Síochána, which resulted in the submission of an investigation file to the law officers, who directed that a person be charged with manslaughter and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. At the subsequent trial, directions to acquit were given by the judge.

Following representations which I recently received, I requested a report on the matter from the Garda authorities. I am informed by the Garda authorities that, following the publication of the article referred to by Deputy Shatter, representations were also made to the Garda Commissioner requesting an investigation of the matters raised in it. The Commissioner arranged for a detective superintendent to meet the persons making the representations, particularly in the context of an assessment of whether there is new information or evidence available which could be pursued. I expect to receive a further report from the Commissioner when that assessment is completed.

The Criminal Procedure Act 2010 introduced a significant change to our laws governing the status of acquittals, by providing that an acquittal can now be set aside and the person re-tried where new and compelling evidence emerges. Previously, an acquitted person was entitled to an irrebuttable presumption of innocence. However, the Act’s provisions do not apply to historical cases — they apply only to persons tried and acquitted on or after the date on which the provisions were commenced, that is, 1 September this year. This absence of retrospective effect stems from our constitutional framework.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Could the Minister indicate to the House when the meetings that are to take place as arranged through the Garda Commissioner will occur?

Does the Minister agree that the recent revelations are disturbing and indicate the possibility that the integrity of the investigation into the death of Fr. Molloy was compromised, and second, that serious question marks arise about the manner in which the matter was dealt with at trial in the context of the judge directing that the charges be dismissed on the possibility that Fr. Molloy died as a result of a heart attack in the context of the Coroner’s Court establishing that he died as a consequence of a vicious assault?

In addition to interviewing those from whom representations have been received and additional information furnished, will the Minister ask the Garda Commissioner to examine the manner in which the original investigation was conducted because there are now substantial concerns that crucial evidence was not taken account of, and in at least one instance was not made available in the context of any prosecution that did take place?

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I am not aware of when the discussions with the two people will be held, but I understand one has already been interviewed and the other, who is a third party and a relative of some of the people involved in the incident, will be interviewed in due course.

There was serious concern in and around the time of the trial and subsequent to it. There were also suggestions that it be re-opened. If any new compelling evidence comes forward, it will be a matter for the Garda Síochána. I cannot intervene in the re-opening of a criminal file by the Garda. If there is any new evidence, I would urge people in whose possession it is to come forward and give it to the Garda.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Does the Minister not agree the story published in the Irish Independent by a reputable journalist is profoundly disquieting and ought to be a cause for concern for the Minister for Justice and Law Reform of the day? I thank him for the minimal information he has given Deputy Shatter. It is a great deal more and different in character from the information contained in the written reply he gave me approximately ten days ago when he essentially washed his hands of the matter. I welcome the change of heart over there, but it raises [298]questions about written parliamentary questions and the way they are treated by Ministers and Departments.

Is the Minister not concerned that an inappropriate direction was given to the jury in this case, one that warrants the Garda’s re-opening of the case? Nothing prevents him from expressing an opinion as to whether the facts as set out in the story justify the Garda re-opening the investigation to determine whether a new prosecution might be mounted.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  The issue goes back as far as 1985 or 1986. At this remove and due to the separation of powers, it would not be appropriate for the Minister for Justice and Law Reform to comment on the holding of and procedure followed in the trial by the judge in question. In the aftermath of the acquittal and the closing of the criminal trial, significant efforts were made to re-open it. On 9 December 1986 in Dáil Éireann, former Deputy Michael Keating asked the then Minister for Justice whether he intended to accede to the request of the relatives of the late Fr. Niall Molloy for a sworn inquiry into the events surrounding his death. The then Minister, Mr. Alan Dukes, stated. “This case has already been the subject of a Garda investigation, a criminal trial and a coroner’s inquest, which is, in effect, a sworn public inquiry.” He also stated:

The holding of a further sworn inquiry could be justified only if there were some likelihood that some new facts would be brought to light. As there does not appear to be any such likelihood in this case I do not see how any further inquiry could be justified.

As a result of the recent publication in a newspaper, the Garda is in the process of discussing the issues with the people involved and those who have made representations, including the journalist. It will be a matter for the Garda Síochána to re-examine the question. It is not something in which I can intervene.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I want to allow further supplementary questions.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Will the Minister assure the House that, in the context of the Garda re-examining the matter, the discussions and interviews to be conducted will go beyond the journalist and the second individual? The Garda should interview other individuals who are available and who may have information that could assist in determining whether a further criminal prosecution is warranted. If the Garda re-investigates the matter and it emerges that someone other than the individual who was originally prosecuted is appropriately brought before the courts and has charges pressed against him or her, does the Minister agree that no obstruction in the context of the 2010 Act would prevent that from occurring? Does he agree that the mere interviewing of two individuals is not an adequate re-investigation? Given the revelations now available and which contain different and additional information from that available to the former Minister, Mr. Dukes, is it not appropriate that the Garda would engage in a far wider investigation than merely speaking with two individuals? Will he assure the House the Garda will do so?

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  It would be entirely a matter for the Garda to decide. It has received representations from two people. The Garda Commissioner has appointed a detective superintendent to prepare a report and interview the people concerned. If the detective superintendent believes other people should be interviewed as a result, I have no doubt he will do so.

Deputy Shatter is correct regarding the prosecution of someone else. The Criminal Procedure Act 2010 is not relevant in this respect. However, the prosecution of another individual is a [299]matter for the Garda Síochána and is not something the Minister can direct. It would be done only on the basis of new evidence being available.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Is it not the case that the difference between the answer given in December 1986 and today’s situation is that such new facts as referred to by the then Minister for Justice have emerged? For example, these new facts relate to the time lag between the death occurring and the Garda being called, the fire in the Offaly coroner’s office and the destruction of the file, and the retired sergeant who was first on the scene proffering new information, if not new evidence. Are these not the new facts in respect of which the Minister for Justice in 1986 seemed to say the case would be re-investigated?

I am not asking the Minister to make a judgment or to interfere inappropriately. Rather, I am asking him to say there is sufficient information surrounding this affair for him to say he is disquieted. I am not asking him to refer to the trial that took place, although a member of his party who was then a journalist wrote a timely paean of praise to the judge in that trial despite the fact the decision to direct acquittal caused uproar at the time. Could the Minister be more forthcoming?

Does the Minister not believe this would be an appropriate case for a commission of investigation under the recent Commission of Investigations Act? The facts are so disturbing and profoundly disquieting that the family, which is only looking for the truth, deserves to have the allegations, new information and new evidence, if it be new evidence, tested. Is the fastest and cheapest way to do this not a commission of investigation? Is this not a matter for the Minister rather than the Garda Commissioner?

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  The appropriate authority is the Garda where the investigation of criminal aspects is concerned. Regarding the investigation at the time, the then Minister stated:

I wish to make the point that the State took every possible step to ensure the full facts of the case emerged at the inquest. Senior and junior counsel were appointed to represent the State and all of the statements made to the gardaí and Garda maps and photographs were made available to the coroner.

Again, the reopening of this case is a matter for the Garda authorities. It is not for the Minister for Justice and Law Reform to give an opinion in relation to this. I do not have the luxury that Members of the Opposition have. I see they have already committed themselves, if they get into Government, to a full review of this issue. Perhaps Deputy Rabbitte will have a different power when he is on this side of the House, but I have to adhere to the separation of powers principle regarding the investigation.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The commission of investigations is a matter for the Minister.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Yes, but there is already a request for a reopening of this issue by the people concerned to the Garda Commissioner and the Garda authorities. A process is now in train and a detective superintendent has been asked to produce a file.

Written Answers – Commissions of Investigation

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 764 No. 1First Page Previous Page Page  of 143 Next Page Last Page

  118.  Deputy Sandra McLellan  Information on Sandra McLellan  Zoom on Sandra McLellan   asked the Minister for Justice and Equality  Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter   if he will set up a commission of investigation pursuant to the Commission of Investigation Act 2004 in respect of the suspected murder of Reverend Father Niall Molloy CC late of Castlecoote, County Roscommon on 8 July 1985; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22243/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I am informed by the Garda authorities that the incident referred to was the subject of investigation by An Garda Síochána, which resulted in the submission of an investigation file to the law officers, who directed that a person be charged with manslaughter and assault. At the ensuing trial directions to acquit were given by the judge. Following the publication of an article concerning this case in October, 2010, representations were made requesting an investigation of the matters raised in it. I understand that the Commissioner arranged for a Detective Superintendent to meet the author of the article and the persons making the representations to make an assessment of whether there was any evidence which was not available to the original investigation team and if further investigation was required in this case. As a result, a number of lines of inquiry were identified for examination by An Garda Síochána. I have received an update on progress on the matter from the Garda Commissioner but the examination remains ongoing and I expect to receive a final report upon its completion, at which point I will review the situation.

Call for Commission of Enquiry into the death of Fr Molloy

Labour Senator John Whelan and his colleague Senator John Kelly clashed with the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad last week when they both called for a Commission of Enquiry into the death of Fr Niall Molloy.

Senator Whelan had called on the Minister for Justice and Equality to fulfill a commitment given to the Molloy family prior to the general election to establish a commission of inquiry into “the sordid and sinister murder of Fr. Niall Molloy in Clara, County Offaly, in 1985.”

However, the Cathaoirleach, Senator Paddy Burke, felt that the manner in which the topic was being brought up was inappropriate. Senator Whelan persevered, saying there had been a conspiracy of silence and cover-up surrounding the case, involving “so-called pillars of society, including individuals, elements within the Garda Síochána, the legal fraternity, the medical fraternity, the church and politics.”

The Molloy family cannot be denied justice any longer, he said. “The culprits, those responsible for the murder of Fr. Niall Molloy, are walking free. The public will not accept this is the case.”

A Commission of Enquiry was the only way for justice to be done and seen to be done. Nothing else was acceptable, said Senator Whelan. “We cannot abdicate our duty and responsibility. We are responsible to the public to restore confidence in the institutions of the State and to ensure Fr. Molloy and his family receive justice.”

Senator Kelly, who is from Roscommon, supported Senator Whelan’s call to establish a commission of inquiry into the murder of Fr. Niall Molloy. “Fr. Molloy was a Roscommon man and was given the Person of the Year award in 1985, the year of his death.”

He pointed out that Fr. Molloy’s father was a Senator and he felt the Seanad ought to give him justice. “Prior to the general election Fine Gael and Labour pledged to establish a Commission of Inquiry into his brutal murder and this must be honoured. This man was left to die for six hours following a wedding in Clara, County Offaly. He did not receive medical assistance in that time.”

Senator Kelly said it was widely acknowledged that “this was the biggest cover-up in the history of the State. When something looks and smells like a rotten apple, it certainly is a rotten apple. The Minister for Justice and Equality should honour his pre-election pledge and establish a Commission of Enquiry into Fr. Molloy’s death. It must be independent and we cannot have gardaí investigating other gardaí in this case.”

WEDNESDAY 24 OCTOBER 2012

Garda Investigations

 13. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter further to Parliamentary Question No. 8 of 20 June 2012, the position regarding the Garda review into the murder of Fr. Niall Molloy in Clara, County Offaly, in July 1985; if he will accede to the request by the family of an independent inquiry into the priest’s death; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46307/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by the Garda authorities that the examination referred to by the Deputy is ongoing. The Commissioner has assured me that each and every line of inquiry is being or will be pursued. Upon receipt of a final report from the Commissioner I will review the situation. I understand that the officers carrying out the examination are continuing to keep the family members of the deceased updated on progress. While I fully appreciate the concerns of the family, in any case where criminal behaviour is suspected it is only through a Garda investigation, and where evidence of criminal wrongdoing is available through the submission of a file by the Gardaí to the Director of Public Prosecutions, that persons can be brought fully to account. I therefore hope the Deputy will agree that, in the first instance, we need to allow the present Garda examination to proceed to its conclusion.

TUESDAY 13 NOVEMBER 2012

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath I refer to the Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill. Will the Taoiseach support the request by the family of the late Fr. Niall Molloy, in particular by his nephew, Bill Maher, for a commission of investigation into the murder of his uncle?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That is not in order on the Order of Business.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The family is very concerned that major corruption—–

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Please recognise the Chair, Deputy. You are out of order.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath I am asking with reference to the Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy should ask about the legislation.

20 NOVEMBER 2012

Commission of Inquiry

Senator John Kelly: Information on John Kelly Zoom on John Kelly I welcome the Minister of State, for whom I have great respect. I acknowledge that this matter does not fall within his area of expertise and that he is taking it on behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality. However, I am disappointed the Minister is not present because he is familiar with the case which has been ongoing for 28 years. It is a serious issue that needs to be resolved, as reputations must be restored. The Minister is a man of integrity and honesty and I would like him to address the case of the brutal murder in 1985 of Fr. Niall Molloy, to which we must bring closure, as the family requires it.

  Fr. Molloy lost his life and reputation by attending a wedding in Clara, County Offaly. He was a Roscommon man whom everybody knew, loved and respected. He was Roscommon Man of the Year in 1985. The case still leaves too many unanswered questions 28 years later and the Molloy family deserves justice. Apparently, a senior Fianna Fáil Minister was in attendance at the wedding and a post mortem certificate was signed afterwards by a doctor who did not exist. The judge who heard the case had a clear conflict of interest, as he was a friend of the accused.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The Senator needs to be careful.

Senator John Kelly: Information on John Kelly Zoom on John Kelly This is all on public record.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I do not want the Member to abuse parliamentary privilege in this House to impugn anyone.

Senator John Kelly: Information on John Kelly Zoom on John Kelly I have not mentioned anybody’s name.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The wording used by the Senator makes it easy to identify them.

Senator John Kelly: Information on John Kelly Zoom on John Kelly This is all on public record.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I am putting the Senator on notice that he should not abuse the privilege afforded by the House.

Senator John Kelly: Information on John Kelly Zoom on John Kelly I am trying not to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I think the Senator is trying to.

Senator John Kelly: Information on John Kelly Zoom on John Kelly I most certainly am not.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The Senator should be careful. I am in a difficult position.

Senator John Kelly: Information on John Kelly Zoom on John Kelly If I was trying to do so, I would mention names. I am purposely not mentioning them.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Sometimes by narrowing it down to certain individuals, one does not have to mention names. The Senator should be careful because I do not want to have the House impugned.

Senator John Kelly: Information on John Kelly Zoom on John Kelly Thank you, a Leas-Chathaoirleach.

  During the trial a senior medical professional was asked if it was possible that Fr. Niall Molloy could have died of a heart attack. When he said “Yes”, the judge directed that the jury be dismissed and found the accused not guilty of manslaughter. There have since been damning statements by Circuit Court judges who were critical of the fact that the judge had taken the case. Senior gardaí have also been critical of the Garda murder investigation. A prominent surgeon who attended the wedding said his life was in turmoil having witnessed the murder and that he could not live with himself. He died a few weeks later at the age of 50. Other gardaí in recent times have come out in support of undertaking another investigation. The Catholic Church wants the case to be reopened. Files relating to the murder were robbed by Martin Cahill from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions during the investigation. Veronica Guerin’s home was shot at when she raised her head about the case. Paul Williams wrote a book entitled, Bedfellows, in which he chronicled what had happened. To date, nobody has challenged anything written in the book. Apart from the Garda inquiry by the cold case squad which, apparently, has concluded, according to the latest edition of The Sunday Times, and found there was no cover up, I have given 12 good reasons an independent commission of investigation should be set up.

  Prior to the general election, both Fine Gael and the Labour Party vowed that if they got into power, an investigation into the death of Fr. Molloy would be a priority. The credibility of the institutions of the State is at stake and there is only one way to restore confidence in them. I would like to think the Minister will not shatter public confidence in our institutions by failing to sanction an independent commission of inquiry. The Molloy family, the friends and neighbours of Fr. Molloy and the people of the country deserve it. As Shakespeare said, “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark”. If he was in Ireland in the mid-1980s, Denmark would have been off the hook.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring I thank the Senator for raising this matter which I am taking on behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality who is unable to be present because of other business. However, he is fully aware of the concerns expressed about the death of Fr. Niall Molloy and sympathises greatly with the Molloy family.

  Fr. Molloy’s death was the subject of an investigation by An Garda Síochána which resulted in the submission of an investigation file to the law officers who directed that a person be charged with manslaughter and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. At the subsequent trial, in June 1986, directions to acquit were given by the judge. The circumstances of Fr. Molloy’s death gave rise to considerable public concern at the time and the Minister appreciates that the family has sought answers ever since as to how its well loved relative met his death. I am sure Senators will join me in also expressing sympathy to other families during the years whose loved ones were killed and where the perpetrators were never brought to justice.

  Most recently the concerns raised surrounding the death of Fr. Molloy found expression in the publication of a newspaper article in October 2010, accompanied by strong representations made by the family. It is important that we acknowledge, in particular, the journalistic work of Ms Gemma O’Doherty in unearthing information on the case for the Irish Independent. On foot of this development, the Garda Commissioner arranged for a detective superintendent to meet Ms O’Doherty, as the author of the article, as well as family members.

(Speaker Continuing)[Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael RingThe purpose of this was to facilitate an assessment of whether there was any evidence that was not available to the original investigation team and whether further investigation was required in the case. Shortly after the Minister’s appointment, he inquired into the steps being taken by An Garda Síochána and was advised of the position. He has at all times emphasised the importance of all relevant matters being thoroughly examined and investigated. This examination is ongoing and the Minster is receiving regular updates from the Commissioner. The Garda authorities have indicated that during the examination additional information was provided to the investigating gardaí identifying further lines of inquiry which have had to be followed up. The Garda Commissioner has assured the Minister that each and every one of these lines of inquiry is being, or will be, pursued. The Minister also understands that the officers carrying out the examination are continuing to keep Fr. Molloy’s family members updated on progress.  The Minister is well aware of the many issues of concern raised in the public domain surrounding the circumstances of Fr. Molloy’s death and the context in which some form of inquiry has been considered desirable, but what needs to be considered first and foremost is that the matters at the heart of the Garda examination relate to potential criminal liability and, in that context, possible charges. It is important, therefore, that nothing is said or done which could prejudice or be seen to prejudice criminal proceedings. Moreover, in any case in which criminal behaviour is suspected, it is only through a Garda investigation and, where evidence of criminal wrongdoing is available, through the submission of a file by the Garda to the Director of Public Prosecutions that persons can be brought fully to account before the courts. This cannot be done by a commission of investigation, through journalistic inquiries or by any other type of review, no matter how thorough or independent.  The best form of justice for the Molloy family would be for anyone who has criminal liability in his tragic death to be brought to account through facing charges. In the Minister’s view, it would be deeply inappropriate to do anything which could prejudice the possibility of that happening. It is also of crucial importance that the Garda receives the fullest co-operation from any individual who can provide information of relevance to the inquires being conducted. Whatever questions there may be about the original investigation, people should not prejudge the outcome of the current Garda examination. That examination, in the Minister’s view, must be allowed to proceed unhindered, and he has been assured by the Garda Commissioner that all relevant evidence will be fully pursued, wherever it may lead. The House will appreciate that ultimately a criminal prosecution must be based on hard evidence, not rumour, speculation or conjecture. The Garda examination has not been completed and, accordingly, any media reports of its findings are, of their nature, speculative.  I would like to make clear that the Minister’s commitment to reviewing the situation when he receives a final report from the Garda Commissioner remains firmly in place. Against that background, I hope the House can accept that we all share the desire to see justice done as much as possible in this case. I have tried to set out why, in the first instance, the best chance of achieving this lies with allowing the current Garda examination to proceed.An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The Senator should be conscious that the Minister of State is not the Minister responsible when posing questions.Senator John Kelly: Information on John Kelly Zoom on John Kelly I do not have questions. I appreciate that the Minister of State is substituting for the Minister for Justice and Equality. Perhaps the reply was written last Friday because The Sunday Times this week clearly stated that the Garda investigation had concluded and no evidence of a cover-up had been found. Today the Molloy family wrote to the Garda Commissioner asking him to remove all of the members of the serious crime review team from the investigation. That is why I believe the Minister of State’s response was written last Friday and is not up to date. The Minister said that if he was in power, he would give this investigation priority. No matter how many times other Members, the Molloy family and I are knocked back, we will still seek justice for Fr. Niall Molloy.Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring I will pass the Senator’s remarks on to the Minister. He asked me to stress that he is conscious of the distress this is causing the relatives of Fr. Molloy.

Creed calls for independent commission of inquiry into priest’s death

Cork North West Deputy Deputy Michael Creed joined forces with two other Deputies in the Dáil  to call on the Minister for Justice to establish an independent commission of inquiry into the death of Fr Niall Molloy in Co. Offaly  in 1985.

The Cork North West Deputy told the Dáil that on 8 July 1985, Fr. Niall Molloy was murdered. “To date nobody has been brought to justice for that murder. There is a view, which I believe is sustained by the facts, that the cover up of that murder was aided and abetted by an omertà-style collusion between the most powerful forces in the State – the senior political establishment, the Judiciary, the Catholic Church, senior medical personnel and the Garda. For that reason alone, it is imperative that the Minister accedes to the request being made by me and Deputies John Paul Phelan and Michael McGrath that an independent commission of inquiry be established.”

The Minister might well reply that the case is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Garda cold case unit, added Deputy Creed. The family had communicated with the Garda Commissioner to indicate its members no longer have confidence in that inquiry. The level of mismanagement of this case by gardaí sustained their case and it was imperative that the Minister should now act on the issue.

There was an enormous amount of information in the public arena at this stage about mysterious fires in coroners’ offices, files being stolen from the Garda and deals done to retrieve those files, pointed out Deputy Creed “but we have no answers. Gardaí investigating gardaí – which in effect is what the cold case unit is doing – is not an appropriate way to proceed.”

The Deputy said the Minister was familiar with the facts; he had written to him on the issue. “I urge him to accede to the family’s request for an independent commission of inquiry.”

Minister of State at the Department of Defence Deputy Paul Kehoe said he would relay the concerns expressed by the Deputies to the Minister. “The three Deputies referred to inconsistencies and allegations of a cover-up in the investigation of the case. I assure the Deputies that all the concerns raised by them will be brought to the attention of the Minister. The Minister has asked me to emphasise that he is very conscious of the distress of the relatives of Fr. Molloy. However, the position remains that the outcome of the Garda examination must be awaited before the matter is considered further.”

Deputy Kehoe added that the Minister and the Garda authorities were aware of the need to deal with this matter as expeditiously and fully as possible. They would update the family on the progress. If the Garda Síochána discovered any evidence which could lead to a criminal prosecution, a file would be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Upon receipt of the final report from the Commissioner, the Minister would be in a position to properly consider the matter further.

6 / March / 2013

QUESTION NOS: 194 & 22

DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter)

by Deputies

forORAL ANSWER on Wednesday, 6th March, 2013.

* 194. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if there will be an independent inquiry into the death of Fr. Niall Molloy in Clara, County Offaly..

– Finian McGrath

22. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 8 of 20 June 2012, the current status of 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.

– Denis Naughten


REPLY.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that the examination surrounding the circumstances of the death of Father Niall Molloy is almost complete and that a report of this examination will be submitted to the Commissioner in the coming weeks. Upon receipt of a report from the Commissioner I will review the situation.

I understand that the officers carrying out the examination are continuing to keep the family members of the deceased updated on progress. While I fully appreciate the concerns of the family, in any case where criminal behaviour is suspected it is only through a Garda investigation, and where evidence of criminal wrongdoing is available through the submission of a file by the Gardaí to the Director of Public Prosecutions, that persons can be brought fully to account.
Therefore, I hope that the Deputy will agree that, in the first instance, we need to allow the present Garda examination to proceed to its conclusion.

Father Niall Molloy murder-Press Release

13/03/2013 16:12:13

“Failure to deal with Fr Molloy Case undermines institutions of the State.” McGrath
13-03-2013

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called for the establishment of a swift, effective inquiry in to the unresolved and controversial murder of Fr Niall Molloy in 1985. Speaking during Leader’s Questions yesterday, Deputy McGrath said that Fr Molloy who was beaten to death and left bleeding for up to six hours, according to an independent neuropathologist, said all of the evidence points to a high level cover up, involving all of the institutions of the State, including, sadly, elements of An Garda Síochána, the Judiciary, politicians, the health service and the Catholic Church.
Deputy McGrath challenged the Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter, who had committed to holding an independent inquiry on this sordid affair while he was in Opposition, as did the Minister Pat Rabbitte, when he was justice spokesperson for the Labour Party, to act now to restore the credibility of the institutions involved.
Deputy McGrath said “our justice system, An Garda Síochána and the institutions of the State must be held in the highest of esteem and put above reproach.”
In response the Taoiseach acknowledged this is a serious matter but would not comment further on it other than to say that he will bring the facts raised by the Deputy to the attention of the Minister on his return. The Taoiseach also said he was not going to commit to an independent inquiry without a full analysis by the Minister.
Deputy McGrath thanked the Taoiseach for indicating that he will bring the matter to the attention of the Minister for Justice.
Deputy McGrath concluded with the observation that a mountain of evidence has come to light since 1985 and he saluted the late Veronica Guerin and Gemma O’Doherty, who is now pursuing this case, as well as the many other journalists who have dared to write about it.
“It is vital, in this time of debating banks and repossessions, that we have faith in our justice system and the institutions of the State. Things are at a low ebb but this is an opportunity for the Taoiseach to be the leader of the country and put this sordid matter to bed. We all look forward to that.”
Ends.

Order of business315 2

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Senator John Kelly: Information on John Kelly Zoom on John Kelly I support my Senator colleagues regarding the mistruth being promulgated by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Richard Bruton, on possible savings following the abolition of the Seanad. The accounts for this House show that it costs €8.8 million. When one accounts for tax, PRSI and the universal social charge, one arrives at a figure in the region of €4.4 million. It is outrageous that the Minister is now using people with disabilities as bait and saying the money will be diverted towards them when the reality is that the money will be diverted towards new committees, providing extra resources for Deputies and some kind of overarching advisory body that the Taoiseach is to put in place. If the people want evidence of the fact that this is something along the lines of a pre-election promise that will not be honoured, they should note that the pre-budget promise I received that the €7 million taken from the home help service in 2012 would be restored in 2013 was not honoured. Not one cent of it has been restored.

  I was at a mass yesterday in Castlecoote marking the 28th anniversary of Fr. Niall Molloy’s murder. It was attended by a huge crowd, including family, friends and supporters of Fr. Molloy. Many of them said to me that they wanted to see justice done in this case. Three to four months ago I tabled an Adjournment matter on this issue. The Minister stated the cold case investigation was taking place and that he could not comment any further until it was concluded. It concluded over two months ago and the report has been on his desk for the past two months. The people of Castlecoote, County Roscommon want to see justice done; they want to see a conclusion. If somebody broke the law, they would plead for mercy. The man in question did not break the law but was murdered. We are pleading for justice for him.

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Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath We have a serious situation. I salute the Garda Reserve who give their time. They should be given the first chance to become recruited to the Garda Síochána if they are suitable.

The Garda Representative Association, GRA, has repeatedly called for impartiality in investigations. No one is hiding in that regard. The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and its forerunner, with which I was involved, must restore trust with the Garda and people. I have seen on television that when a garda is involved in an accident in some cases a helicopter flies members of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to investigate. I accept there must be independence but I question the resources that are put into the commission. The investigations must be carried out in a proper manner. We must examine the situation. The Garda must be investigated by an independent body. The GRA has asked for that. However, when we see cases such as those of the late Fr. Niall Molloy and Shane Tuohy they spoil the whole atmosphere for the rest of the good gardaí. I have seen gardaí being abused at the front gate trying to protect us in this House from people who want anarchy on the streets. I salute the Garda and I support it. I have been involved in the community alert initiative all my life. A police force cannot operate without the support of the public. We must build trust.

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Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan Ba mhaith liom tacaíocht a thabhairt don Bhille agus aitheantas a thabhairt do na Teachtaí Dála de réir an obair iontach a dhein siad ionas go mbeadh an Bille os ár gcomhair, go háirithe an obair a dhein an Teachta Dála Wallace.

In the Chamber yesterday, I heard the opening speeches from Deputies Mick Wallace, Clare Daly and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, who along with Deputy Joan Collins, have done most of the work to bring this Bill before the House.

At the end of the Minister’s speech, however, I had to ask myself if the people in the Visitors Gallery, who had issues in the area, were reassured by what he said. In recent years, I have attended countless meetings and briefings that were distressing and disturbing. They generally concerned injustices that had been allowed to continue for many years. I also attended the meeting in the audio-visual room yesterday. I listened, appalled, to the stories by people who had had experiences with gardaí because of particular incidents involving members of their families, and their efforts to get answers, information and justice.

Their encounters with the system, including gardaí and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, did not leave them feeling that their voices were heard, the issues were addressed or that justice had been achieved. Their stories were of Garda investigations being well below professional standards, shortcomings in Garda conduct and families forced to go to court – even to the Supreme Court – at considerable expense, in order to get information. They were simply seeking answers to genuine queries about what had happened to them or their loved ones. They have been treated very badly over quite a number of years.

It was horrific to listen to these people talking about harassment, gardaí not identifying themselves, inappropriate searches, false accusations and cover-ups. Some of this harassment, which went on in front of children, was because of what was described as collusion between certain local influential people and gardaí in the area. It was all basically impeding the course of justice.

We saw what happened in Donegal but it has certainly spread to other areas. I have been involved in one particular incident, trying to get information for a family in the inner city whose son was murdered. He was a criminal but he was their son and, like any parents, they are entitled to answers about what happened to him. So far, I have written to the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Garda Chief Superintendent, but I am still waiting for answers. The family have also been waiting for a number of years.

The Minister of State seems to have so much confidence in the current system, which she has outlined. The Minister is answerable to the Dáil for the Garda Síochána. The Garda Commissioner is the Accounting Officer for the Garda Síochána and in that capacity is liable to appear before the Committee of Public Accounts. Whether that is supposed to inspire confidence, I am not too sure. The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission will carry out independent investigations into Garda conduct and the Garda Síochána inspectorate. However, that system has not worked for the people who told their stories yesterday. Neither did it work for Dr. O’Flaherty or the family of Fr. Niall Molloy. In their case, they have been waiting for over 30 years.

Meanwhile, In Seanad Éireann

The sacking of Irish Independent journalist Gemma O’Doherty (right) prompted Labour Senator John Gilroy to say the following on Wednesday:

“I seek a debate on the freedom of the press in light of disturbing reports I have heard in respect of the sacking in recent weeks of an award-winning investigative journalist, Gemma O’Doherty. Some of her work has been raised on the floor of this House. This case has been reported extensively in international media and social media but it does not seem to have generated any traction in our domestic media. When any journalist is sacked it is noteworthy, but when an investigative journalist of Ms O’Doherty’s standing is sacked this must raise great concerns for all democrats. I hope the Leader may arrange, at his earliest convenience, a debate in general terms on the freedom of the press.”

Mr Gilroy’s call was supported by several senators,

Jim Walsh, of Fianna Fáil, said:

“I agree with what Senator Gilroy said about the sacking of Ms Gemma O’Doherty. Many people have come to me in recent months, since the House went into recess, who told me about their difficulties in getting their points of view and their letters into some newspapers because of the particular perspective those papers took on the abortion Bill. That does not serve democracy. Within our media there is self-censorship. If this came about via the Executive or if the State were to impose such censorship, there would be considerable objection and hostility.”

Martin Conway, of Fine Gael, said:

“I was also deeply disturbed to hear about the sacking of Ms Gemma O’Doherty. I was not aware of it. I know her and know her to be a very fine, capable, passionate and determined journalist. I am sure she will have no problem picking up alternative employment with another publication. I would like to know more about how the sacking happened and the reasons for it. She certainly drove the Fr. Niall Molloy case in recent times, an injustice of which we are all aware.”

Labour’s John Kelly said:

“I compliment Ms Gemma O’Doherty on her great work in the Fr. Niall Molloy case. She took it from nothing to being fairly and squarely on the desk of the Minister for Justice and Equality, who promised before the last election an independent commission of inquiry into the death of Fr. Molloy after everything else had been addressed. The cold case investigation has been concluded, the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, has made a ruling and the matter is now with the Minister. Given the great work done by Ms O’Doherty, I call strongly on the Minister to allow the commission of inquiry to go ahead.

Fidelma Healy Eames, of Fine Gael, said:

“I welcome back my colleagues. As citizens, we enjoy rights, but we never really know how strong they are until they are tested. Like others, I am worried about the sacking of Ms O’Doherty. She was expressing her right to report on various stories. For some reason or other, however, she has been sacked. A debate on the freedom of the press and journalists’ rights must be considered.”

Paul Coghlan, of Fine Gael, said:

“I also wish to compliment Ms Gemma O’Doherty on her research and writing on the Fr. Niall Molloy case. I have spoken on this matter before, as have several other Members. I agree very much with what has been said earlier today by Senator Kelly.Hopefully, now that the matter is with the Minister, something will be done.”

 

THE DÁIL  5 / 11 / 2013

 

71.Deputy Denis NaughtenInformation on Denis NaughtenZoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and EqualityInformation on Alan ShatterZoom on Alan Shatter 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 KennedyInformation on Marcella Corcoran KennedyZoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Justice and EqualityInformation on Alan ShatterZoom on Alan Shatter 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): Information on Alan ShatterZoom on Alan ShatterI 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.

On 5 November 2013 12:32, William Maher <wsmaher@mac.com> wrote:

71. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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 Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on 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.

On 5 November 2013 12:32, William Maher <wsmaher@mac.com> wrote:

71. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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 Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on 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.

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