‘Truth out there’ Full article by Maresa Fagan in The Irish Times

Fr Niall Molloy: ‘Truth out there’ as chapter in unsolved death closes

Relatives believe it is not too late to find answers; Man acquitted of 1985 manslaughter dies

Drizzle fell as a stream of cars began to arrive on Monday into Tubberclair, near Athlone a half an hour before the funeral mass began.

Two hundred mourners had come to mark the passing of Richard Flynn, a man acquitted of assault and manslaughter of a priest in a trial that lasted less than a day, 30 years ago, which still remains controversial.

Mr Flynn’s daughter Sandra read William Butler Yeats’s The Lake Isle of Innisfree, while his grandchildren brought gifts at the start of the service, remembering his life.

They included a photograph to show his love of family, a rugby ball marking his passion for sport, an Irish language book for his love of Gaelic and a radio for his abiding interest in current affairs.

Later, the Galway-born native, who had lived into his 80s and died in a nursing home after a long illness, was laid to rest beside his late wife Therese in the cemetery adjacent to the church.


Mr Flynn’s passing closes another chapter in the unsolved killing of Fr Niall Molloy in 1985, though the priest’s relatives believe that the truth is still to be uncovered despite the passage of the years.

It was a case that shocked and fascinated: a priest found dead in the bedroom of a prominent business couple in 1985 was the stuff of popular soap operas, like Dynasty and Dallas, but not life in a rural village in the Irish midlands.

In the words of The Observer, one of many international titles to follow every twist and turn, it offered a “rich mix” of religion, high finance, horse breeding and even politics.

For the Roscommon-born Fr Molloy, July 7th began as usual, with the celebration of Sunday Mass in his parish of Fuerty. Later, however he made his way to Clara in Co Offaly.

There, he went to Kilcoursey House, the home of his friends of three decades, Richard and Theresa Flynn to join in the revelries of a family wedding that had taken place the day before.

He was a frequent visitor to the 23-roomed Tudor-style home. The former Army Chaplain shared an interest in horses and show jumping with the Flynns, who owned and ran a number of businesses in the Midlands.

Within hours, however, the keen horseman was found dead in the house’s master bedroom: the exact time of death remains uncertain, like much else that night, but it was sometime between 10pm and the early hours of Monday.

Emergency Services 

His face was bloodied and bruised. His body showed no defensive marks. A long bloody dragmark on the white bedroom carpet suggested the body was moved. Blood smears and spatters were evident in the room and elsewhere.

Emergency services were never called. Medical evidence later suggested the priest may have been alive for several hours after the assault. Richard Flynn telephoned a now-deceased local priest at 1am to come and be prepared for an anointment.

It was after 3am before local gardai were alerted. By this time the family doctor, who like many others in the story is now dead, was at the house, as were other members of the Flynn family; Therese Flynn had been taken to hospital.

When questioned, Richard Flynn admitted he was the culprit. Charged subsequently with the manslaughter and assault of Fr Molloy the 47-year-old businessman was acquitted of all charges a year later.

In a trial that lasted less than four hours, Justice Frank Roe, then President of the Circuit Court, directed the jury to acquit. The medical evidence, Judge Roe said, was inconclusive and it would be improper to convict on Mr Flynn’s statement alone.

“It is a little bit unusual but not improper of me to say that no one intended any injury to be caused,” Judge Roe remarked. The acquittal came despite Garda concerns over monies owed to Fr Molloy after a land deal fell through.

A month later, a jury in an inquest decided, however, that that Fr Molloy had, in fact, died from head injuries, which prompted a public outcry and calls in political circles for the case to be re-examined.

Medical Evidence

In 1988 even more questions were raised when new medical evidence suggested that Fr Molloy had survived for a number of hours after the assault. In the years that followed there were a succession of yet more extraordinary twists and turns.

Files on the case were among a batch stolen from the offices of the Director of Public Prosecutions in August 1987 – in a theft carried out, it is believed, by criminal, Martin Cahill, otherwise known as The General.

In 1988 Therese Flynn was linked to a fraudulent life insurance claim on Fr Molloy’s life but denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of the policy, which was eventually paid out to the Molloy family.

In 1994 there were claims that Judge Roe was known to both the Flynns and Fr Molloy and should not have heard the court case.

The case refused to go away. New medical evidence was brought to light in 1988 but nothing came of it at that time.

On a rare occasion, after the trial and inquest, when Mr Flynn spoke to one national newspaper, the Sunday Independent where he said his “conscience was clear” and that he had “never lost a moment’s sleep”.

Other features in the case begged questions about the Garda investigation, the criminal trial and, over two decades later, allegations of a ‘cover-up involving several arms of the state’.


In response to these allegations and new witnesses coming forward, the Garda Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT) embarked on a review of the case in 2010 and spent two and a half years re-interviewing witnesses and reconsidering evidence. The inquiry, however, did not result in any new prosecutions.

And in March 2015 the Government ruled out the prospect of a public inquiry. A senior barrister appointed to review the SCRT findings concluded that an inquiry was unlikely to establish the truth.

“It is unlikely given the passage of time, the death of many of the pertinent witnesses and the reluctance of others voluntarily to give evidence, that any further inquiry would have a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth,” senior counsel, Dominic McGinn said.

‘Disturbing’ features

Acknowledging that there were many “disturbing” features and matters of public concern, McGinn’s inquiry also pointed to serious failings by gardaí in their investigation.

Despite Richard Flynn’s passing, the Molloy family continues to pursue a full commission of investigation: “We don’t believe it’s too late, the truth is still out there. Individuals with vital information relating to Fr Niall’s death are still alive and there is still new evidence emerging,” Bill Maher, a nephew of Fr Molloy’s said.

“As far as the family is concerned the case is far from over. There are too many shortcomings and glaring inconsistencies to ignore and we will continue to push for a full independent investigation,” he added

However, the McGinn report did put to bed some of the theories that abounded since the death. Frank Roe’s directed acquittal was “extraordinary”, but it was within the law.

The 109-page report also found no documentary evidence to substantiate claims that the judge, a popular figure in racing circles who passed away in 2003, was known to the Flynns, or to Fr Molloy.

Numerous questions

Nevertheless, the outstanding questions are numerous. Why did gardaí not interview guests who attended the Flynn wedding on July 6th? Why were no door-to-door enquiries carried out?

Why was a break-in at Fr Molloy’s house not investigated? Why was Fr Molloy’s broken watch returned to his family without being investigated? Why was a medical report that could have placed “a different complexion” on the case not sought?

Why was a statement from Fr Molloy’s solicitor in relation to a land deal with the Flynn’s not included in the investigation? Thirty one years have passed, and the Molloys are closer to answers.

In July 2015, relatives of Fr Molloy met with Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to raise their concerns over the McGinn-identified shortcomings, where they shared graphic photographic evidence of injuries suffered by Fr Molloy.

The family have since taken a case against the police force for ‘neglect of duty’ in the 1985 investigation. The complaint is currently being investigated by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.

“The McGinn report and the Serious Crime Review Team identified numerous breaches of procedures in the original investigation, where many basic enquiries or checks were not carried out,” Mr Maher, a nephew of Fr Molloy’s said.

“There are still too many unanswered questions. We want a full investigation into all aspects of Fr Niall’s death, from day one onwards, including the Garda investigation or lack thereof and we will continue to push for that,” he added.

Fr Molloy’s head bashed in with statue of a horse

In her controversial book about her father Martin Cahill ( The
General ) , Frances Cahill makes revelations about details of Niall’s
death , which she alleges, are contained in the DPP file which Martin
had access to.
She wrote

” My father recalled that the priest’s head had been bashed in with a
statue of a horse, information that alledgedly came from the DPP’s
file on the case”
“According to my father, the evidence in the files suggests that the
injuries sustained by the priest go slightly beyond banging ones head
on a bedpost”

Book Details ;


Author : Frances Cahill

Publisher : New Island


The information above was confirmed to me by another source in recent weeks.

Frances Cahill Cover

How Cahill tried to cash in Fr Molloy murder file

A file on the killing of Fr Niall Molloy was stolen from the DPP’s office by ‘The General’ Martin Cahill


OVER the weekend of September 6-7, 1987, some 100 files were stolen from the Director of Public Prosecutions’ office in St Stephen’s Green. The building, containing some of the State’s most sensitive and major criminal files, had no adequate security and it was simple to break in through the original 19th Century windows in the basement. The files were kept in filing cabinets which were easily jemmied open.

OVER the weekend of September 6-7, 1987, some 100 files were stolen from the Director of Public Prosecutions’ office in St Stephen’s Green. The building, containing some of the State’s most sensitive and major criminal files, had no adequate security and it was simple to break in through the original 19th Century windows in the basement. The files were kept in filing cabinets which were easily jemmied open.

The burglars – it is thought up to three took part – were led by the man who was soon to become Ireland’s most notorious criminal, ‘The General’ Martin Cahill. He was, effectively, at war with the State. He wanted to humiliate the Government and gardai through the secrets he believed the files contained.

Included in his haul were the DPP’s files on Malcolm MacArthur, the man then serving life imprisonment for the murder of nurse Bridie Gargan in Phoenix Park in the summer of 1982. MacArthur, now free and living in south Co Dublin, was at the centre of a hugely publicised manhunt and subsequent trial.

The fact that he was arrested at the home of the then Attorney General Patrick Connolly, in Dalkey, had been one of the most bizarre elements of the story. Mr Connolly was socially acquainted with MacArthur and had been allowing him to stay temporarily at his home. The Attorney General, who was on holiday in the US, was totally unaware he was harbouring the State’s number one fugitive.

Cahill believed there were secrets in the files that could bring down major government and legal figures.

He, like almost everyone in Ireland, was also well acquainted with the story surrounding the killing of Fr Niall Molloy during a lavish wedding at Kilcoursey House in Co Offaly in July 1985. The owner of the house, Richard Flynn, was charged with manslaughter and brought before the Central Court. In what was seen as a remarkable turn in the story, which had consumed acres of newspaper coverage, Judge Frank Roe suddenly brought the trial to a close after accepting a defence submission that there was no evidence to suggest Fr Molloy did not die of a heart attack. An inquest later found that he died from blows to the head. Cahill, who was illiterate, presumably failed to find anything that could bring down the Government in the files but decided to hold on to them anyway as a bargaining chip.

The Fr Molloy file would subsequently become just that four years later for his friend and criminal associate, John Traynor, who could read, and was good at deals.

In July 1990, Traynor was arrested in London while handling stolen bearer bonds with a value of £4m that had been snatched from a courier in the City of London. He was facing seven years jail in Wormwood Scrubs and was desperate to get out and get home. He made contact with Cahill and the gardai. Traynor was transferred to the low security Highpoint Prison in Suffolk.

He was given “temporary home leave” in November 1992 and travelled home to Dublin. Traynor was awaiting trial for possessing stolen cigarettes in Dublin and, given his string of previous convictions, was also facing jail time in the Republic.

A few weeks later he arranged a meeting with a lone detective near theGarda Social Club in Harrington Street in south Dublin. The detective arrived and Traynor directed him to walk down nearby Stamer Street. As he did so, Martin Cahill stepped out from behind a hedge and handed the detective the Fr Molloy file, which – as crime journalist and author Paul Williams recounts in his book Evil Empire – was contained inside a Dunne’s Stores shopping bag.

Traynor and Cahill had been in business together since the early Eighties.

Traynor was involved in cheque forgery and any other scam that could net him money. A year after his return, however, a new face emerged on the major organised crime scene in Dublin. John Gilligan, having finished a five-year sentence in Portlaoise Prison had re-established links with his Lebanese hash trafficker in Amsterdam and had in place a major shipment, so long as he could raise the finance.

Traynor put a deal together between Cahill and GilliganGardai believed that Cahill was prepared to put up £600,000 so long as he received the same amount in interest.

The deal was entered into and Gilligan’s importation business took off.

Repayment of the loan and interest began in the summer of 1994, but didn’t last long. Cahill was shot dead near his home in Ranelagh in August.

Two days later, the Dublin IRA issued a statement saying they had killed Cahill because he had been trading with the outlawed loyalist organisation, theUlster Volunteer Force. The UVF had never heard of Cahill but some of its members had been arrested in Turkey in 1993 trying to sell some of the paintings Cahill had stolen from Russborough House in 1986. The UVF men had acquired the paintings from Ireland’s top criminal fence, Tommy Coyle, who had been handling the sale of the art collection for Cahill.

The IRA statement was a ruse, gardai discovered later. They had been bought off to cover for the real assassins, members of the splinter group the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), who had links to both Gilligan and Traynor.

Gilligan had befriended INLA members in Portlaoise Prison and Traynor was involved with them in a cheque fraud in Dublin.

Gilligan’s operation flourished for two years under the radar of the gardai and journalists. Then, in 1995, the late Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin picked up Gilligan’s name in a conversation with another journalist and double checked with one of her garda sources.

He confirmed that from nowhere Gilligan had suddenly become the richest criminal in Ireland and was probably the main supplier of hash in the country. Veronica had already established a rapport with Traynor as one of her main underworld contacts.

Traynor fed her stories about other criminals, diverting attention away from his cash-cow associate Gilligan. Veronica’s stories led to death threats. Shots were fired at her home in October 1994 and in January 1995 a story that Traynor had given her about Cahill’s remarkable double life with his wife and her sister led to demands by Cahill’s associates – who knew of his contacts with Veronica – that she be assassinated.

The drug-addict gunman sent to kill her had a defective gun which misfired when he pointed it at her chest and pulled the trigger. The jam cleared and the bullet fired as the gunman shook the weapon, striking Veronica in the leg.

To avoid blame and show he was still amenable to the queries of the journalist, Traynor again turned to the Fr Molloy file which he had photocopied for future use. To divert Veronica’s attention he again produced ‘juicy’ parts of the file to lead her away from Gilligan’s life and drug trafficking network.

A story is a story and Fr Molloy was still news.

It was unlikely, however, that Veronica would miss out on Gilligan. Within days of hearing his name for the first time she had discovered Gilligan had set up home and had built a massive equestrian centre at Mucklon in Co Kildare. She set out for the house and confronted Gilligan on September 13, 1995.

He savagely attacked her and subsequently made threats to rape and kill her son. Gilligan was arrested and charged with the assault. A week before Gilligan was to have appeared in court on the assault charge the journalist was shot dead as she stopped at the traffic lights at Newlands Cross.

Since her revelations, the Fr Molloy case has cropped up again and again. Three years ago gardai agreed, in response to yet more publicity, to re-examine the file.

They did so and sent a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions who found no grounds for any further charges. Last week the Government concurred and refused a request for a public inquiry.

Sunday Independent


Stolen DPP File, The General, Judge Frank Roe and Veronica Guerin

The following is an extract from a front page article by Veronica Guerin published by the Sunday Independent on Oct 16th 1994

“The file was stamped “top secret” but it’s content related to one of the most explosive criminal investigations and trials this century. The file was so important that garda authorities were willing to trade it for a convict’s release from high security prison.

Within the folder were two documents, letters from a Circuit court judge to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. They gave the judge’s thinking on a death that has mystified Ireland for nine years.

Fr. Niall Molloy died in a violent argument in the bedroom of Theresa and Richard Flynn in Co. Offaly in 1985. The following year with official investigations apparently concluded, Richard Flynn stood in a circuit court dock charged with manslaughter and assault.

He was acquitted after justice frank Roe accepted expert evidence that the priest may have not have died from his injuries but from a heart attack. An inquest jury found the priest died from head injuries sustained in the fight,  a difference of opinion that led to nine years of speculation, some of it aired publicly in the Dáil.

This week it is Judge Roe’s letters to the DPP that bring new questions to a mystifying case. The Sunday Independent has also learned that Fr. Molloy’s last will and testament, believed missing for nine years, is said to have been sent  to his Diocesan headquarters, and may have made provisions for Mrs. Flynn.

Judge Roe’s letters are remarkable, both for their contents  and for the method by which they were made public. the Garda file in which they were held was one of 145 stolen by the late martin Cahill, Dublin’s infamous General from Garda headquarters.

Cahill used the file about Fr. Molloy’s death to bargain with the authorities, effectively promising it’s return upon release from an English high -security prison of a close criminal associate. the man was transferred to an open prison and then finally back to Ireland.

The file was returned but not before the General had taken photocopies of it’s content for further use. He told associates he planned to make it’s contents public, but he had not decided on the nature and date of their release when he died. Cahill had, however made sure a colleague was kept fully aware of the file’s location, and of it’s content.

last week the Sunday independent was shown the two letters. One is hand written and, from other examples of his hand writing, the hand of Justice Frank Roe, can be identified.

The first hand written letter dates from before charges were made against Richard Flynn, and is a communication from Mr Roe to Eamon Barnes, the Director of Public Prosecutions. The letter says Mr Roe knew Fr. Molloy and the Flynns.

The second letter was written after the trial and is an explanation – the word ‘explain” is actually used – of judge Roe’s reason for the dismissal of the charges against Richard Flynn.

Mr. Roe  last week refused to discuss the letters. ” that case is dead and buried,” he said. ” I have nothing to say.”

He also refused to comment on why he sent the handwritten letter to the DPP, and would not elaborate on his associations with Fr Molloy and  the Flynns. 

” They were lovely people all of them.” he said ” God bless them all.”

Veronica Article

Fr Niall Molloy……………YES or NO Commissioner Callinan ?

The Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has still not answered the simple question put to him in January of last year.

Did the Gardai do a deal with “The General” Martin Cahill for the return of the Niall Molloy  file which had been stolen from the DPP’s Office.

Numerous letters have been exchanged between myself, my cousin and the Commissioner’s office but we still have not been given a reply. Mr Callinan has referred us back recently to the Cold Case Unit who say they know nothing about it and it is a matter for the Commissioner to comment on.

Veronica Guerin wrote about “The Deal” and more recently Paul Williams has mentioned it in a book ,on radio and in a newspaper article


YES or NO  Mr.Callinan