Gardaí ‘absolutely satisfied’ there was ‘full and proper investigation’ into deaths under review


Gardaí have moved to reassure the public that a review of homicides has found no discrepancy in the way they were investigated.

A review is underway into how a number of killings were classified – and fears have been raised that the figures could be incorrect, which would cause further problems for the beleaguered force.

A special investigation into 41 homicides is underway, with a report due to be delivered to the Policing Authority on Thursday.

Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said he is satisfied the crimes were properly investigated.

“There are some some minor issues in relation to the classification but the key and most important point in all of this is the investigation that was conducted,” he said.

“We have done an examination and what we call a triangulation between the data and the investigations conducted by the SIOs and we are absolutely satisfied that there was a full and proper investigation into each and every one of these deaths.”



Passage of time precludes new probe into priest’s 1985 death

An independent review of a Garda investigation into the violent death of Fr Niall Molloy 30 years ago has recommended against any further inquiry.

The examination by Dominic McGinn SC said this was despite “extremely unusual” and “quite disturbing” aspects to the death of the 52-year-old priest at the home of Richard and Therese Flynn in Clara, Co Offaly, on July 8, 1985.

Mr Flynn was subsequently charged with manslaughter and assault but, at his trial in June 1986, the jury was directed to find him not guilty.

Mr McGinn was tasked by the Department of Justice with reviewing the Garda Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT) examination of the original Garda investigation.

Mr McGinn concluded that, given the passage of time, the death of 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.

“Certainly there are extremely unusual, if not unique, features about this case,” said Mr McGinn.

“Many of these are quite disturbing and merited an in-depth analysis.”

Mr McGinn’s report said:

  • There was an “unexplained” and “significant delay” in alerting authorities to the priest’s injuries;
  • That the “calm attitude” of Mr Flynn to the “violent death of a family friend” in his house was a feature that many would find “inexplicable”;
  • Regarding the Flynn family, he said “undoubtedly at least one of them knew who was responsible” for Fr Molloy’s death;
  • In light of confessions by Mr Flynn to inflicting violence on Fr Molloy, the directed acquittal of Mr Flynn at his trial was “extraordinary”;
  • That while much of the criticism was levelled at the trial judge, his decision was at least “partially attributable” to concessions made by State pathologist John Harbison;
  • In spite of friendships the Flynns had with politicians at the highest level, there was no evidence that these connections were used.

Mr McGinn concluded that, having looked at the material in the SCRT report, “if is difficult to envisage how any further inquiry could have a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth about the issues raised”.

He said this was due to the passage of time, the death of key witnesses, and the “reluctance of others voluntarily to give evidence”.

Therefore, he said, a further inquiry was not warranted.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she accepted this recommendation.

Mr McGinn said that Fr Molloy’s family had “a completely reasonable sense of injustice”.

The priest’s nephew, Bill Maher, said the report was ultimately “disappointing” but was “quite detailed”.

“He still says that certain aspects of it warrant inquiries,” said Mr Maher.

“His main conclusion seems to be that people have died and people are unwilling to speak. If the commission [of inquiry] had been set up, which is what we’d sought all along, people would have been compelled to give evidence. There are a few people dead but there are a lot of people alive.”

Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan said that if new evidence came to light “it will be pursued”, but added: “It’s only fair to say at this moment it’s probably not right to hold out hope 30 years later.”


Garda conduct review has over 300 cases

Garda conduct review has over 300 cases

There has been a late surge in the number of complaints about the conduct of garda investigations, which is being examined by an expert panel of barristers.

The number of cases has swelled from around 200 last August to more than 300, pushing the completion of the review back a number of months. The process was due to have been completed by November, but has continued as more cases came in for examination.

Many of the cases were sent through TDs and a campaign group, Justice4All, on the back of allegations of garda abuses and misconduct made by whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe in the Cavan/Monaghan division.

These allegations were examined by Sean Guerin, who completed his review in early May. His report recommended a statutory inquiry to examine the matters further and reach definitive conclusions.

In December, some eight months later, the Government announced the establishment of the inquiry, to be headed by retired High Court judge Kevin O’Higgins.

In July, when asked about the progress of the Guerin inquiry, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald announced that she had set up an independent review of separate allegations concerning the conduct of gardaí, or inadequacies in their investigations, which had been made to the Taoiseach or herself.

She said the panel comprised two senior counsel — Conor Devally and Aileen Donnelly — and five junior counsel: Paul Carroll, John Fitzgerald, Tony McGuillicuddy, Siobhán Ní Chulachain, and Karen O’Connor.

Ms Fitzgerald said the barristers would review the cases and make a recommendation to her on what further actions, if any, might be appropriate. She said their work would begin shortly and that the aim was to have the majority of cases reviewed within a period of “between eight and 12 weeks”.

The counsel are paid a fee on a case-by-case basis of €300, €550, or €800, depending on complexity. Senior counsel have an additional brief fee of €20,000 to oversee the operation of the mechanism and to ensure consistency across all the cases.

The Department of Justice said in August it was possible that some of the cases that warranted deeper investigation could be included in the terms of reference of the commission of investigation being set up to examine the Guerin cases. The terms of reference do not, so far, include any of the cases.

The department has told the Irish Examiner that the number of cases being reviewed has now reached 307. A spokesman said the independent review was “well under way” but did not say when it would be completed.

“It is important that nothing arises which might detract from the integrity of the review mechanism,” he said. “It is therefore considered inappropriate to place a time constraint upon the working of the panel, although they intend to conclude their work as soon as is reasonably practicable.”

The process has attracted criticism from some people who lodged complaints, partly as it is only a paper review and does not involve interviews with the complainants.

One family, that of Shane O’Farrell, a 23-year-old man killed in a hit-and-run in 2011, has also complained that one of the senior counsel, Mr Devally, defended the man who killed her son.

Ms Fitzgerald has said there is a procedure where conflicts of interest might arise.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Leak of report into priest’s 1985 killing ‘a gross insult’



Leak of report into priest’s 1985 killing ‘a gross insult’

The family of a priest killed in suspicious circumstances 29 years ago has described the leaking of a government-commissioned report as a “gross insult”.

Relatives of Fr Niall Molloy, Co Roscommon, are seeking an urgent meeting with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald following a series of communication blunders in relation to a report into the unsolved killing of their uncle in 1985.

The leaking of a report into the death of Fr Molloy to a Sunday newspaper has infuriated the family, who branded it as the “final insult”.

“The leaking of this report has added insult to injury. The department has repeatedly briefed the Dáil and media before briefing the family on how the report was progressing and now we see the findings of that report leaked in a Sunday newspaper; it’s a gross insult to the family and to Niall’s memory,” Bill Maher, a nephew of Fr Molloy, said.

“It was only a week or so ago that Minister Fitzgerald confirmed that the report was completed and with her department and the Attorney General.

“It was only through the media that we became aware of that fact and now 10 days on we see the report leaked.

“It really is the final insult for the family after 29 years of campaigning for the truth and for answers,” Mr Maher added.

The report was commissioned to examine the findings of a recent Garda probe into the 1985 cold case and is expected to determine whether a commission of investigation is warranted.

In 2010, the Garda serious crime unit re-opened the case but the two-and-a-half year probe failed to result in any prosecutions.

Gardaí indicated to the Molloy family in the final briefing that they would be strongly recommending a commission of investigation to ascertain all the facts surrounding the death.

The unsolved killing of Fr Molloy at the home of his friends, Richard and Therese Flynn, in Clara, Co Offaly, on July 8, 1985, has raised more questions than answers for almost 30 years.

It has led to allegations of a cover-up involving several arms of the State, as well as questions over the initial Garda investigation and the criminal trial that followed in 1986, in which Richard Flynn was acquitted.

The leaked report in The Sunday Times has attempted to pour cold water on claims that Gardai were involved in any cover-up.

In light of the leak, the family is seeking a meeting with Ms Fitzgerald as a matter of urgency.

“We don’t see any reason why the minister cannot meet with us now out of courtesy, in particular when the minister can find the time to meet with other families from other jurisdictions,” Mr Maher said.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Family fury as minister gets review into priest’s death



Family fury as minister gets review into priest’s death

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed that she has received and is considering a report into the death of Co Roscommon priest, Fr Niall Molloy, almost 30 years ago.

Ms Fitzgerald has received a report from senior counsel Dominic McGinn, who was appointed almost a year ago to carry out an independent examination of facts in the case.

In 2010 the Garda serious crime unit re-opened the historic case but the two-and-a-half-year probe that followed failed to result in any new charges or prosecutions being brought.

Mr McGinn was appointed in December last year to examine the findings of the Garda cold case review.

Now Ms Fitzgerald has confirmed to the Dáil that the review is now completed and is being considered by her department and the attorney general.

“My department has recently received a report from Mr McGinn and is considering it in consultation with the office of the attorney general,” she told the Dáil last Thursday.

While welcoming the completion of the review, the family of Fr Molloy has expressed their disgust at the minister and her department’s failure to notify them of the completed report.

The Molloy family only learned of the completed report by chance when a family member stumbled on an online story about the review yesterday afternoon.

Henry McCourt, a nephew of Fr Molloy’s, said the family was appalled by the lack of communication.

The death of Fr Molloy at the home of his friends, Richard and Therese Flynn, in Clara, Co Offaly on July 8th 1985 has raised more questions than answers for almost three decades.

The historic case has led to questions about the initial Garda investigation, the criminal trial that followed in 1986, and subsequent allegations of a ‘cover-up’ involving several arms of the State.



Shatter asked to clarify phone calls relating to 1985 murder of priest

Shatter asked to clarify phone calls relating to 1985 murder of priest

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has been asked to clarify if phone calls to gardaí relating to the unsolved murder of Fr Niall Molloy in 1985 were recorded.

The family of the Co Roscommon priest has expressed concern over the possible recording of phonecalls between family members or their legal representatives and gardaí over the past 28 years.

The concerns come in the wake of an inquiry into the recording of calls to and from 26 garda stations since the 1980s. Bill Maher, a nephew of Fr Molloy, has written to Mr Shatter seeking clarification on whether gardaí have tapes of any such conversations relating to the killing of his uncle in Clara, Co Offaly in July 1985.

Mr Maher also requested any recordings from 1985 on, or more recently since the Fr Molloy cold case was reopened, be given to the family. In addition to questions over the initial garda investigation and the criminal trial that followed in 1986, the case has also led to allegations of a cover-up involving several arms of the State.

Last year the DPP said no charges or prosecutions would be brought after a garda cold case review in 2010. Senior counsel Dominic McGinn has now been commissioned to examine the findings of the garda serious crime unit review. However, the Molloy family are continuing to press for an independent commission of investigation and a meeting with Mr Shatter.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Molloy killing to be reviewed

Molloy killing to be reviewed

Tuesday, November 05, 2013 – 06:38 PM

The investigation into the killing of Fr Niall Molloy by the Garda cold case unit is to be examined by a senior lawyer.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter ordered the review to establish if any other inquiry could get to the truth of how the priest died at a lavish wedding in 1985.

Fr Molloy died during the celebrations at Kilcoursey House in Co Offaly in July that year and the owner of the house, Richard Flynn, was charged with manslaughter but was acquitted at the direction of a judge.

Judge Frank Roe ended the trial when he accepted a defence submission that there was no evidence to suggest the priest did not die of a heart attack.

An inquest later found that he died from blows to the head.

Mr Shatter is to appoint a senior counsel to review the three-year investigation by the Garda cold case team after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) recommended earlier this year that no charges be brought.

“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,” the minister said.

“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.”

Mr Shatter said he was anxious to put as much information into the public domain as possible.

The senior counsel will carry out an independent examination of a report by the Garda cold case unit, the Serious Crime Review Team, to determine what information is of public interest and can be released.

The lawyer will also be asked to identify “matters of significant public concern arising from this examination” and if another form of inquiry could get to the truth.

The justice campaign for Fr Molloy has pressed Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan for answers over why the Garda investigation ended with no charges being brought.

Liz Molloy, Fr Molloy’s niece, has alleged a cover-up over the killing and demanded a public inquiry. She claims it was promised by Mr Shatter and Labour’s Pat Rabbitte before they got into government.

The cleric’s family have claimed that gardai mishandled the case for almost 30 years, failed to interview vital witnesses properly, if at all, and contaminated evidence.

It has been claimed that the judge in the trial knew the accused.

Mr Shatter said he was happy that the Garda cold case review was extensive but he said it is not open to him to publish its report.

“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,” he said.

“I am conscious that to leave the matter at that would allow baseless assertions to be made that the Government has some interest in suppressing information about this case when, in fact, what is at issue is having due regard to the rule of law; the independence of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions; and protecting the rights of all.”