James Fogarty in the Roscommon Herald
James Fogarty in the Roscommon Herald
PUBLISHED21/02/2017 | 02:30
The only man ever charged over the death of Roscommon priest Father Niall Molloy was laid to rest in Co Westmeath.
The Galway native was laid to rest beside his late wife Theresa in Tubberclair Cemetery following midday Funeral Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Tubberclair, Glasson, Co Westmeath.
The acquittal of Mr Flynn of the killing of Fr Molloy sparked a controversy that lasted 30 years after the priest’s death.
Fr Molloy’s body was found in the home of Richard and Theresa Flynn at Kilcoursey House in Clara, Co Offaly, on July 8, 1985.
After a lengthy investigation a garda file was sent to the director of public prosecutions and Mr Flynn was charged with manslaughter and assault.
But at his trial, the late Judge Frank Roe directed the jury to find Mr Flynn not guilt on both counts. The decision fuelled the nationwide interest that already existed in the case and created a flurry of rumours, none of them substantiated, about what had taken place that night.
Since then, further allegations have been made about the events and the subsequent garda investigation.
The fresh outcry prompted garda authorities to appoint members of the serious crime review team, or cold case unit, to carry out a review of the case.
The government then appointed senior counsel, Dominic McGinn, to take a fresh look at the review and he concluded that, given the passage of time, the death of so many pertinent witnesses and the reluctance of others to give evidence, it was unlikely that any further inquiry would have a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth.
The Justice Minister has revealed that a senior counsel was paid more than €92,000 for carrying out a review of Roscommon priest Niall Molloy’s death.
The Castlecoote-based cleric was brutally killed in the Clara home of Richard and Theresa Flynn in July 1985, but no one was ever convicted of the crime.
Following continued claims that it was never thoroughly inspected, in February 2014 the government tasked Senior Counsel Dominic McGinn with reviewing the latest Garda investigation.
After his independent examination, Mr McGinn found in March 2015 that a further inquiry wouldn’t be warranted – a recommendation Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald accepted.
Responding to a parliamentary question from Dublin Bay North TD Tommy Broughan recently, the Minister revealed that the senior counsel was paid €92,250 for his task.
A Department of Justice spokesman said that the amount payable, made up of a fee of €75,000, with Vat at 23 per cent, was subject to sanction by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
Friday afternoon this is an email My cousin Henry and myself were sent from the Department of Justice. We had a meeting with the Minister last year and she promised to get back to us after the summer break. We heard nothing and both of us wrote to the Minister and got not reply. On the 8th of August a letter was sent to the Ombudsman complaining about the Minister’s non response to our meeting and letters. As a result of which the following was received by email. Interesting to see if hard copies will follow
Minister’s Reference: 0718095057
26 August, 2016
Dear Mr. McCourt,
I have been asked by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality,
Ms. Frances Fitzgerald T.D., to refer to her meeting with you and Mr. Bill
Maher on 1 July 2015, the matters outlined in the documents which you gave
to her at the meeting and in your subsequent correspondence.
In the first instance, I should say that it is a matter of regret that it
did not prove possible to issue a definitive response until now. Of
course, the papers submitted by you had to be fully reviewed by the
Tánaiste since originally submitted and she wanted to take the time that
was necessary to fully consider all of the matters raised in light of your
strong concerns. Moreover, you will appreciate that in the interim,
events, relating to other pressing matters, placed very significant demands
on the Tánaiste’s time.
The Tánaiste would like, once again, to acknowledge the very sincere
support which many people have conveyed to you and your family in relation
to the death of your uncle, Fr. Molloy, and the extent of the efforts which
have been made over many years to obtain answers to the various questions
which have been raised about the case.
The Tánaiste has reflected on the issues discussed with you at the meeting
and as referred to in the documentation supplied and sympathises with you.
However, the detailed examination by the SCRT of the case, together with
Mr. McGinn’s subsequent report, lead her to conclude that there is no
reasonable prospect that a further inquiry would give rise to more
conclusive results. The objective expressed in Mr. McGinn’s terms of
reference was to obtain definitive independent advice on the question of a
further inquiry and having received such advice, it would be highly unusual
for the Tánaiste not to take it on board.
The Tánaiste has also considered your comments on the shortcomings of the
original Garda investigation but as you note in your documentation, these
have been highlighted by the SCRT and were outlined and carefully
considered by Mr. McGinn in arriving at his recommendations concerning any
further inquiry. While the Tánaiste fully appreciates your dissatisfaction
with these aspects of the original investigation, she does not believe that
a further inquiry to examine these specific matters would be viable or
warranted at this remove. As stated in previous correspondence, the
Tánaiste is of the view that a further inquiry would most likely come to a
similar assessment in relation to the original Garda investigation and such
an assessment is already available and in the public domain. In these
circumstances, and given the passage of time and the evolution of
investigatory practice since then, the establishment of a further inquiry
into these matters would not be of material public benefit.
The Tánaiste is very much aware that unanswered questions in relation to
the case remain and are of course a cause of concern for the family. She
sympathises with your desire to see further steps taken in relation to the
investigation but, as you know, the case has been considered by the DPP on
foot of the SCRT report and a direction received that there not be a
further prosecution. The Tánaiste has no role in that process, but by
publishing Mr. McGinn’s report has taken exceptional measures to put into
the public domain as much information as possible in relation to a criminal
investigation, and in relation to the steps taken to examine the issues
which have been raised concerning the case over many years.
Having carefully considered the points which you raised at the meeting, and
in your correspondence, the Tánaiste remains of the view that there are no
further avenues open to her in relation to this matter, and that she is not
in a position to accede to your request to establish a further inquiry into
Private Secretary to the
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality
CC Mr. Bill Maher
Where is the evidence ?
Many people have been asking us the question for a long time and rightly so. We have been talking to the Gardai and Politicians for many, many years and have unearthed many problems and contradictions.
The McGinn report published last year highlighted many problems with the Garda investigation in 1985 ( Or should I say lack of investigation )
We were not shown a copy of the report by the SCRT . Why ?
If there is nothing to see in it then why not show it to the Molloy family’s Legal representative ?
Who did get to see the report. ?
Were changes made to the Report after it was completed and submitted to the Garda Commissioner ?
Why will the Gardai not put anything in writing to the family. ?
Why will the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald not respond to the meeting with the family last July ? She was presented with evidence and has gone silent on the case since.
We met with Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald in July 2015. We spent an hour talking to her and left her with a file and photographs which she herself described as ” distressing”. She promised us she would respond after the Summer break..
In November 2015 she informed Denis Naughten T. D. that she would be in touch with family members.
Nine months on from our meeting and we have heard NOTHING from her.
Statement by Senator John Whelan
Notwithstanding the best efforts of the Gardaí and the Government I have to reluctantly conclude and concede that we may now never see justice for Father Niall Molloy and his family.
The recommendation of the review into this tragic and unsolved case of the murder of Father Molloy in Offaly that any further inquiry would most likely not lead to any positive outcome is disappointing and frustrating.
While it is almost 30 years ago since Fr Molloy was murdered, if this happened in any other jurisdiction we would be horrified and appalled that such a crime could go unsolved and unpunished. This was Clara, 1985 and there are those still alive who know the truth of what happened and continue to frustrate the investigation and deny justice to Father Molloy, his family and loved ones.
The Government and Minister for Justice are to be commended for their quite exceptional course of action in directing a review of the case by the Garda Serious Crime Review Team and a further independent assessment of that investigation by Senior Counsel, Mr Dominic McGinn.
Such a review and revisiting of the Father Niall Molloy case was first sought in the Senate by myself and my colleague Senator John Kelly, three years ago. While the review has been useful and worthwhile in terms of shedding some light on the sinister events of July 8th, 1985, it is nevertheless inconclusive and brings no closure to Father Molloy’s family and friends.
The report determines that many important questions remain unanswered and that the truth of these appalling events may never be established and that any further inquiry would serve no useful purpose.
That as it may be, the murder of Father Molloy did not take place in the Deep South 100 years ago, but in County Offaly as recent as 30 years ago. Some key witnesses and protagonists have evidently since passed away, however, there are those who in the view of this 100 page report have still not been frank, forthcoming or truthful in what they know of this awful event.
The report has served some purpose, but those responsible for the murder and cover-up of the murder of Father Molloy have served neither time nor justice.
Notwithstanding the conclusions and recommendations of this thorough and comprehensive report I continue to appeal to those who have evidence to come forward even at this late juncture, to clear their conscience, to clean the slate and to bring closure to this sordid chapter in Clara’s history for all concerned and affected.
If they do not, we will never know the truth, justice will not be served and the shadow that this casts reflects upon us all.
In this regard, I note and quote the comments today of the Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald:
“There have been concerns expressed regarding this case for many years, and it was therefore very welcome that the Garda Serious Crime Review Team re-examined it in a comprehensive fashion. The outcome of that process was that a further prosecution was not directed by the DPP. That decision will have come as a disappointment to Father Molloy’s family but we need to recognise that this is the independent process through which our system determines whether criminal charges should be brought for serious offences. The DPP must proceed on the basis of evidence and the law, notwithstanding the strength of feelings which exist regarding a case.
“As Minister I have no role in the prosecution process but I am of course very aware of the claims which have been made about Father Molloy’s death over many years. In an effort to address concerns about this matter, it was decided to appoint Mr. McGinn to independently assess what information could be put into the public domain regarding the case, and to advise as to whether further inquiry would be warranted. This was an exceptional course of action, motivated by the desire to bring the greatest possible transparency to bear.
“Mr. McGinn’s report does an important service in outlining in considerable detail the background to the case. It brings greater clarity to many of the issues raised regarding the case, and outlines how some of the concerns expressed are simply not supported by evidence. It sets out shortcomings in the original investigation, which were identified by the SCRT Review. The Report does not answer all of the questions raised, however, and concludes that the precise events surrounding Father Molloy’s death cannot now be ascertained. In these circumstances, Mr. McGinn recommends that examination by a further inquiry would not be warranted.”
Mr McGinn said that Fr Molloy’s family had “a completely reasonable sense of injustice”.
The McGinn report was published today. It was dated Oct 10th 2014 . Why did it take five months for Minister Frances Fitzgerald to publish it
An official report into the death in 1985 of Co Roscommon priest, Fr Niall Molloy, is expected to be published shortly.
Fr Molloy’s badly beaten body was found at Kilcoursey House, the Co Offaly home of Richard and Teresa Flynn, on the day after their daughter’s wedding in July 1985. Richard Flynn was subsequently charged with manslaughter but was later acquitted.
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said she had sought legal advice on the limited redactions that might be necessary before the report was put into the public domain.
“I do have that report. I would like to publish it as fully as possible. Once I have legal advice from the Attorney General in relation to any redactions that may be necessary. But I certainly would like to put that report into the public arena,” she said.
“I have received it. I have asked the Attorney General for legal advice into some necessary redactions, minimum necessary obviously, and then I will publish it. I would hope to publish it shortly.”
Senior Counsel Dominic McGinn was appointed to carry out an independent examination of facts in the case.
Fr Molloy’s nephew Bill Maher said the family wanted to meet with Ms Fitzgerald as a matter of urgency.
“We have no idea what the findings are. We want to discuss the report with her before they publish any findings,” he said.
Mr Maher said the family had sought a meeting with Ms Fitzgerald and her predecessor Alan Shatter.