Frances Fitzgerald – Still no reply

It is now going on 14 months since members of the Molloy family met with Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald. She promised to respond to the meeting after the Summer break. ( Last year’s Summer break ) We still have heard nothing and despite again promising Denis Naughten TD last November that she would be in contact with the family. NOTHING. Also not answering letters from the family over the past year.

Naughten raises Fr. Molloy report with Justice Minister

Naughten raises Fr. Molloy report with Justice Minister

 

 

Naughten raises Fr. Molloy report with Justice Minister

Local TD Denis Naughten has been informed by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in the Dáil today that she is now in possession of the report on the review of the files pertaining to the death of Fr. Niall Molloy.

Denis Naughten has again raised the issue in the Dáil, where he has on many occasions called on the Justice Minister to establish an independent inquiry into the priest’s violent death, a request that the family of Fr. Molloy have sought over a long number of years.

Responding, Minister Fitzgerald stated that the report “is being considered in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General”.

QUESTION NO: 106
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Ms. Fitzgerald)
by Deputy Denis Naughten
for ORAL on Tuesday, 18th November, 2014.

To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality when she expects to receive the review of the file on the death of Fr. Niall Molloy in Clara, County Offaly, in July 1985; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Denis Naughten

REPLY.
As the Deputy will be aware, Mr. Dominic McGinn, Senior Counsel, was appointed to carry out an independent examination of the report of the Serious Crime Review Team relating to the Garda investigation into the death of Fr. Niall Molloy. My Department has recently received a report from Mr. McGinn and this is being considered in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General.

http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20authoring/DebatesWebPack.nsf/takes/dail2013121000012?opendocument

http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20authoring/DebatesWebPack.nsf/takes/dail2013121000012?opendocument

Questions in the Dáil yesterday 5/11/13

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.

Justice Minister considering Fr. Molloy report – Naughten

Wednesday, 25 September 2013
Department of Justice and Equality
Garda Investigations
Denis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Independent) | 
52. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will accede to the request by the family of Fr. Niall Molloy for an independent inquiry into the priest’s violent death; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39605/13]
Alan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael) | 
The Deputy will be aware that this case was examined by the Garda Síochána Serious Crime Review team, who forwarded a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The DPP subsequently advised that, on the basis of the papers provided, there be no further prosecution in this matter. In the circumstances, I have only recently received a detailed report from the Garda Commissioner on the investigation, which I am currently studying in the context of considering any further steps which might be appropriate in relation to this matter.

Alan Shatter finally confirms DPP role

QUESTION NOS: 41 & 50
DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter)
by Deputies
for ORAL on Thursday, 13th June, 2013.

41. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality 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 for an independent inquiry into the priest’s violent death; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Denis Naughten

50. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update of the cold case file given to the Garda Commissioner on 11 March in relation to the Fr. Niall Molloy case and the promised report on the matter..

– Joe Higgins

REPLY.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that the examination surrounding the circumstances of the death of Father Niall Molloy has been completed and that an investigation file has been forwarded for the attention of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The Deputies will appreciate that in these circumstances it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on this matter at this time.

Replies from Minister Alan Shatter

June 2012

To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No 8 of 20 June 2012, if the Garda Commissioner has received the final report from the gardaí carrying out the examination; if he has received an update from the Commissioner; if he has received a final report on the examination from the Commissioner, and if not, when he expects to receive this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Denis Naughten

REPLY.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that the review of the case in question is not yet finalised and that a number of matters remain outstanding. I expect to receive an update from the Garda Commissioner when these are finalised. As I indicated in my reply to the Deputy’s question on 20 June, I am very aware of the concerns which have been expressed about this case, but feel it is important in the first instance that we allow the present Garda examination to proceed to a conclusion. Upon receipt of Commissioner’s report I will then review the situation.

 

October 2012

 

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter)
by Deputy Denis Naughten
for ORAL on Wednesday, 24th October, 2012.

To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality 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.

– Denis Naughten

REPLY.
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.

January 2013 

 

29/01/2013 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the Serious Crime Review Team has finalised their enquiries into the case of the death of Fr. Niall Molloy; if an Garda Síochána has submitted a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4237/13]
29/01/2013 Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): I propose to take Questions Nos. 557, 574 and 575 together.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that the examination surrounding the circumstances of the death of Father Niall Molloy 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 Com- missioner I will review the situation. I understand that the officers carrying out the examina- tion 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 avail- able 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 Deputies will agree that, in the first instance, we need to allow the present Garda examination to proceed to its conclusion.

 

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.

 

401237_484703934912824_1407685031_n

 

April 2013

 

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter)
by Deputy Charles Flanagan
for WRITTEN on Tuesday, 30th April, 2013.

* To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has already received, or if not, if he will request as a matter of urgency the report of the formal review by the Garda Serious Crime Review team in to a murder enquiry (details supplied) in 1985 in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Charles Flanagan(Details Fr Niall Molloy death at Clara )
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 is expected to be submitted to the Commissioner sometime in May. 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.

 

 

 

May 2013

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)

8. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will instigate a public inquiry into the death of Father Niall Molloy. [20854/13]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
 

I am advised by the Garda authorities that the examination surrounding the circumstances of the death of Fr. Niall Molloy is almost complete and that a report of this examination is expected to be submitted to the Garda Commissioner some time this month. 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 Garda to the Director of Public Prosecutions that persons can be brought fully to account.

Therefore, I hope the Deputy will agree that, in the first instance, we need to allow the present Garda examination to proceed to its conclusion, which, I reiterate, I understand is almost complete. I understand it will result in a report being furnished to the Garda Commissioner this month, and I then expect the Garda Commissioner to report to me.

Photo of Pádraig MacLochlainnPádraig MacLochlainn (Donegal North East, Sinn Fein)
 

We will await the outcome of that report. The Minister will be very familiar with this case going back to the time when he was an Opposition spokesperson on justice. I have had a chance to review what is known about the case, most of which is in the public domain. Potentially it is one of the biggest scandals in the history of the State in terms of the range of people associated with it, including people in medicine, the Judiciary, policing and politics.

This was a remarkable scandal where a priest, Fr. Niall Molloy, who by all accounts was beloved in the midlands community he served, had his life taken. His family deserve answers. More importantly, the people of the State deserve answers. I believe it was a remarkable abuse of power by a range of people to deny information to the people of the State, the people of the community who loved him and, more importantly, his family. We will await the outcome of the report. Sadly, it is police investigating police. Owing to the seriousness of potentially one of the biggest scandals in the history of the State, we need an independent inquiry to examine all the allegations in the public domain, which are of the most serious nature and have serious implications for administration of justice

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)

 

Like the Deputy, I am very familiar with the case. I am familiar with all the allegations made. I was familiar with it when I came into office. Shortly after assuming my position as Minister, I requested that these allegations be investigated. The Garda Síochána was the appropriate body to conduct the investigation should evidence emerge that would justify the taking of any criminal prosecution. It has taken a substantial amount of time for this investigation to be concluded. In 2011, I did not anticipate that it would take until May 2013 to conclude it. I understand it is on the verge of being concluded. I have been assured the Garda Commissioner will receive a report this month.

I hope the Deputy will understand if I, as Minister, do not in any way comment on what he has said about the matter because it is very important I do not prejudge the outcome of the investigation, that I say nothing that might prejudice any matters arising from it. At present, I am not privy to the outcome of the investigation and do not know what conclusions have been reached. I am very conscious that the tragic death of Fr. Molloy took place very many years ago. Clearly, in investigating his death, there are certain evidential issues that may be a cause of difficulty, but I have no reason to make any presumption one way or another about that.

There is the issue of the investigation into his death. Then we come back to an issue with which we have engaged this afternoon. The matter was dealt with in the courts. The Judiciary is independent and, as Minister, I cannot, nor would it be appropriate for me, to comment on the manner in which the case was dealt with when it came to the courts. I await with great interest the outcome of the investigation. I hope we will be in a position to know this very shortly. As Minister, I must then consider what happens next

5:50 pm

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Independent)
 

I find it strange my Question No. 41, which deals with the same issue, was not grouped with this. The family was told on 11 March the report was with the Garda Commissioner. On Tuesday, the Minister told the House, through a reply to a question from Deputy Charles Flanagan, that it will be submitted some time this month, and the Minister has stated this again today. Who is wrong? Is it the Minister or the officer who is supposed to be briefing the family and explaining to them what is going on in this investigation?

Does the Minister not find it bizarre that the original Garda file was stolen, the coroner’s file was destroyed, the State Laboratory’s file is not available and now we find the review file is lost somewhere between Harcourt Street and the Phoenix Park? It is not acceptable to the family that this review is an ongoing issue when the Minister told me in the House almost 12 months ago that it was nearly completed at that stage. Will the Minister assure the House it will be with the Garda Commissioner by the end of this month and that he will, soon after this, receive a report on it and, on foot of this, take appropriate action?

Photo of Clare DalyClare Daly (Dublin North, Socialist Party)
 

The drama is clearly continuing with this and there is now so much controversy and unanswered questions that nothing short of a public inquiry will suffice. The information I have is that the head of the cold case unit, the person in charge of the investigation, briefed the family and stated the report the Minister said was not completed was completed at the end of February and given to the Garda Commissioner at the start of March. This is a fact. With regard to the Minister’s statement that the family is being consistently briefed by the Garda, the family state this is not the case and they have not been kept in the loop. This is a further vindication of my opinion that this tragic case and the cover-up around it requires a public inquiry.

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
 

An independent public inquiry will probably be required to achieve any transparency and accountability in this episode. When the Minister was in opposition, did he at any stage call for an independent inquiry on this matter?

 

 Photo of Pádraig MacLochlainnPádraig MacLochlainn (Donegal North East, Sinn Fein)

I am concerned that the confines of this re-examination and report will be limited to the immediate investigation. As the Minister knows, a range of issues flow from this case which are of the utmost concern. This case is truly shocking. I had a chance to review it in detail over the weekend and I am stunned at the extent of the scandal. The public will not be satisfied with police investigating police, looking only at the initial investigation and not at all the issues which have flowed from it in the decades since, which would be of massive public concern. The State must be held to account and there needs to be an independent public inquiry, not just of the initial death and investigation but of all the issues which have flowed from it in the decades since.

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
 

I will begin by telling Deputy Naughten I am not interested in political points scoring. I am providing the information available to me from my officials. The information is that the Garda Commissioner will have the report during this month. I assume that, as I have requested, the Commissioner will report to me. It is an issue I have regularly made inquiries about since being appointed Minister. I cannot interfere in a Garda investigation and I will not do so. It is important that operational issues are dealt with independently by An Garda Síochána. I will not draw conclusions.

I am aware of all the allegations and I am aware of all the concerns. I have been for some time, which is why in 2011 I requested this matter be investigated. Deputy Daly has a habit of coming to the House and making all sorts of allegations. I will not respond. I can only say I have had this issue raised out of a genuine concern of what I know and what I have been told about the background to this matter. As I stated, I expect to receive the report. I will give very careful consideration to what is in it. I will then consider what action, if any, is appropriate arising out of the report. I do not know at this time whether the report might indicate some papers should be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions. It may be that it will and it may be that it will not. I simply do not know the answer to this. If it does, this brings about certain consequences. I cannot be certain as to what will be said in the context of the report. I will deal with it when it comes to me. We will then see where we go from that point. It is an issue I treat with a great deal of seriousness and no one should be under any illusion about it.

I say to Deputies Daly and Wallace, I am not engaged in, nor party to, nor will be party to, any cover up. This seems to be something they love jumping to accusing people of with great regularity. My only interest and commitment is to do this job in the public interest, and this is where my focus is. I will do this job in the public interest for as long as necessary. I will cover up nothing of any description—–

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
 

I never said you would.

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
 

—–which could be contrary to the public interest. I have never believed in matters being covered up. I believe in transparency. I do believe where there is a suggestion of wrongful behaviour or a suggestion of criminality that these issues should be properly investigated. I will not prejudge allegations. It would be inappropriate of me to do so.

 

 

Question from Deputy Finian McGrath T.D. 9/May/2013

Question in the Dáil yesterday 9th May by Finian McGrath TD

QUESTION NO: 163

DIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr.
Shatter)
by Deputy Finian McGrath
for WRITTEN on Thursday, 9th May, 2013.

* To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an
update on the delay of the cold case file given to the Garda Commissioner
on 11 March in relation to the Fr. Niall Molloy case..

– Finian
McGrath

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 is expected to be submitted to the
Commissioner sometime this month. 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 Garda 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, which, as I have indicated, will be shortly.

 

 

Dáil Debate – Fr. Niall Molloy

http://www.kildarestreet.com/debates/?id=2013-05-02a.449

 

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)

8. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will instigate a public inquiry into the death of Father Niall Molloy. [20854/13]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)

I am advised by the Garda authorities that the examination surrounding the circumstances of the death of Fr. Niall Molloy is almost complete and that a report of this examination is expected to be submitted to the Garda Commissioner some time this month. 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 Garda to the Director of Public Prosecutions that persons can be brought fully to account.

Therefore, I hope the Deputy will agree that, in the first instance, we need to allow the present Garda examination to proceed to its conclusion, which, I reiterate, I understand is almost complete. I understand it will result in a report being furnished to the Garda Commissioner this month, and I then expect the Garda Commissioner to report to me.

Photo of Pádraig MacLochlainnPádraig MacLochlainn (Donegal North East, Sinn Fein)

We will await the outcome of that report. The Minister will be very familiar with this case going back to the time when he was an Opposition spokesperson on justice. I have had a chance to review what is known about the case, most of which is in the public domain. Potentially it is one of the biggest scandals in the history of the State in terms of the range of people associated with it, including people in medicine, the Judiciary, policing and politics.

This was a remarkable scandal where a priest, Fr. Niall Molloy, who by all accounts was beloved in the midlands community he served, had his life taken. His family deserve answers. More importantly, the people of the State deserve answers. I believe it was a remarkable abuse of power by a range of people to deny information to the people of the State, the people of the community who loved him and, more importantly, his family. We will await the outcome of the report. Sadly, it is police investigating police. Owing to the seriousness of potentially one of the biggest scandals in the history of the State, we need an independent inquiry to examine all the allegations in the public domain, which are of the most serious nature and have serious implications for administration of justice

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)

Like the Deputy, I am very familiar with the case. I am familiar with all the allegations made. I was familiar with it when I came into office. Shortly after assuming my position as Minister, I requested that these allegations be investigated. The Garda Síochána was the appropriate body to conduct the investigation should evidence emerge that would justify the taking of any criminal prosecution. It has taken a substantial amount of time for this investigation to be concluded. In 2011, I did not anticipate that it would take until May 2013 to conclude it. I understand it is on the verge of being concluded. I have been assured the Garda Commissioner will receive a report this month.

I hope the Deputy will understand if I, as Minister, do not in any way comment on what he has said about the matter because it is very important I do not prejudge the outcome of the investigation, that I say nothing that might prejudice any matters arising from it. At present, I am not privy to the outcome of the investigation and do not know what conclusions have been reached. I am very conscious that the tragic death of Fr. Molloy took place very many years ago. Clearly, in investigating his death, there are certain evidential issues that may be a cause of difficulty, but I have no reason to make any presumption one way or another about that.

There is the issue of the investigation into his death. Then we come back to an issue with which we have engaged this afternoon. The matter was dealt with in the courts. The Judiciary is independent and, as Minister, I cannot, nor would it be appropriate for me, to comment on the manner in which the case was dealt with when it came to the courts. I await with great interest the outcome of the investigation. I hope we will be in a position to know this very shortly. As Minister, I must then consider what happens next

5:50 pm

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Independent)

I find it strange my Question No. 41, which deals with the same issue, was not grouped with this. The family was told on 11 March the report was with the Garda Commissioner. On Tuesday, the Minister told the House, through a reply to a question from Deputy Charles Flanagan, that it will be submitted some time this month, and the Minister has stated this again today. Who is wrong? Is it the Minister or the officer who is supposed to be briefing the family and explaining to them what is going on in this investigation?

Does the Minister not find it bizarre that the original Garda file was stolen, the coroner’s file was destroyed, the State Laboratory’s file is not available and now we find the review file is lost somewhere between Harcourt Street and the Phoenix Park? It is not acceptable to the family that this review is an ongoing issue when the Minister told me in the House almost 12 months ago that it was nearly completed at that stage. Will the Minister assure the House it will be with the Garda Commissioner by the end of this month and that he will, soon after this, receive a report on it and, on foot of this, take appropriate action?

Photo of Clare DalyClare Daly (Dublin North, Socialist Party)

The drama is clearly continuing with this and there is now so much controversy and unanswered questions that nothing short of a public inquiry will suffice. The information I have is that the head of the cold case unit, the person in charge of the investigation, briefed the family and stated the report the Minister said was not completed was completed at the end of February and given to the Garda Commissioner at the start of March. This is a fact. With regard to the Minister’s statement that the family is being consistently briefed by the Garda, the family state this is not the case and they have not been kept in the loop. This is a further vindication of my opinion that this tragic case and the cover-up around it requires a public inquiry.

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)

An independent public inquiry will probably be required to achieve any transparency and accountability in this episode. When the Minister was in opposition, did he at any stage call for an independent inquiry on this matter?

 

 Photo of Pádraig MacLochlainnPádraig MacLochlainn (Donegal North East, Sinn Fein)

I am concerned that the confines of this re-examination and report will be limited to the immediate investigation. As the Minister knows, a range of issues flow from this case which are of the utmost concern. This case is truly shocking. I had a chance to review it in detail over the weekend and I am stunned at the extent of the scandal. The public will not be satisfied with police investigating police, looking only at the initial investigation and not at all the issues which have flowed from it in the decades since, which would be of massive public concern. The State must be held to account and there needs to be an independent public inquiry, not just of the initial death and investigation but of all the issues which have flowed from it in the decades since.

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)

I will begin by telling Deputy Naughten I am not interested in political points scoring. I am providing the information available to me from my officials. The information is that the Garda Commissioner will have the report during this month. I assume that, as I have requested, the Commissioner will report to me. It is an issue I have regularly made inquiries about since being appointed Minister. I cannot interfere in a Garda investigation and I will not do so. It is important that operational issues are dealt with independently by An Garda Síochána. I will not draw conclusions.

I am aware of all the allegations and I am aware of all the concerns. I have been for some time, which is why in 2011 I requested this matter be investigated. Deputy Daly has a habit of coming to the House and making all sorts of allegations. I will not respond. I can only say I have had this issue raised out of a genuine concern of what I know and what I have been told about the background to this matter. As I stated, I expect to receive the report. I will give very careful consideration to what is in it. I will then consider what action, if any, is appropriate arising out of the report. I do not know at this time whether the report might indicate some papers should be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions. It may be that it will and it may be that it will not. I simply do not know the answer to this. If it does, this brings about certain consequences. I cannot be certain as to what will be said in the context of the report. I will deal with it when it comes to me. We will then see where we go from that point. It is an issue I treat with a great deal of seriousness and no one should be under any illusion about it.

I say to Deputies Daly and Wallace, I am not engaged in, nor party to, nor will be party to, any cover up. This seems to be something they love jumping to accusing people of with great regularity. My only interest and commitment is to do this job in the public interest, and this is where my focus is. I will do this job in the public interest for as long as necessary. I will cover up nothing of any description—–

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)

I never said you would.

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)

—–which could be contrary to the public interest. I have never believed in matters being covered up. I believe in transparency. I do believe where there is a suggestion of wrongful behaviour or a suggestion of criminality that these issues should be properly investigated. I will not prejudge allegations. It would be inappropriate of me to do so.