Shatter to ask senior barrister to review Fr Molloy case

Barrister to examine how gardaí investigated unexplained death of priest in 1985

A senior barrister is to be asked to examine how gardaí investigated the unexplained death in 1985 of Roscommon priest Fr Niall Molloy and to write a report which can be published.

A senior barrister is to be asked to examine how gardaí investigated the unexplained death in 1985 of Roscommon priest Fr Niall Molloy and to write a report which can be published.

Tue, Nov 5, 2013, 20:17

A senior barrister is to be asked to examine how gardaí investigated the unexplained death in 1985 of Roscommon priest Fr Niall Molloy and to write a report which can be published.

An announcement to this effect was made today by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter who said he had told the Cabinet that he was consulting the Attorney General to have a Senior Counsel carry out an independent review of how the garda Serious Crime Review Team re-examined the case earlier this year.

As a result of that re-examination, the Director of Public Prosecutions confirmed in August that no new charges would follow. Campaigners concerned with the circumstances of Fr Molloy’s death do not believe justice has been done.

Mr Shatter said in a statement that the barrister appointed would be asked to do two things.

First, “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”.

Seco ndly, they would be 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”.

Fr Molly died in unexplained circumstances in July 1985 in Kilcoursey House in Clara, County Offaly, the home of friends of his, Richard and Therese Flynn. Fr Molloy’s body was found in the Flynns’ bedroom amid signs of apparent violence, including a bloodstain on the carpet.

Mr Flynn was subsequently charged with manslaughter but was acquitted in the Dublin Circut Court, on the direction of the late former president of the court, Mr Justice Frank Roe, following defence counsel assertions that the priest could have died from heart failure.

A later inquest found that Fr Molloy died of “sub-dural haemorrhage consistent with having sustained a serious injury to the head”.

Fr Molloy is understood to have had a business relationship with Mrs Flynn, whom he had known since childhood, having inherited money from his father. He and Mrs Flynn shared an interest in horses, owning some jointly as well as land.

Ever since the acquittal and inquest verdict, members of Fr Molloy’s family and others have campaigned for what they see as an asbence of justice relating to his death. In his statement, Mr Shatter said many claims had been made about the manner of Fr Molloy’s death,

“ I am anxious to put as much information into the public domain as is possible and appropriate in order to address these claims,” he said.

His statement continued: “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 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.”

He added that he was seeking the appointment of a senior barrister “solely in the interests of transparency” and that this did not “ imply in any way that I am dissatisfied with the work undertaken by the Garda Serious Crime Review Team”.