Former sports coach questioned over fresh abuse claims

Bill Kenneally has been arrested after three more men alleged he sexually assaulted them

Midlands Prison in Co Laois. Gardaí have arrested the imprisoned former Waterford sports coach, Bill Kenneally  at the prison following fresh abuse allegations. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Midlands Prison in Co Laois. Gardaí have arrested the imprisoned former Waterford sports coach, Bill Kenneally at the prison following fresh abuse allegations. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

Gardaí have arrested the imprisoned former Waterford sports coach, Bill Kenneally for questioning after three more men have come forward with allegations that he had abused them when they were teenagers in Waterford in the 1980s.

Detectives arrested Kenneally (66) at the Midlands Prison on January 17th and conveyed him to Portlaoise Garda station where they questioned him for over six hours about the latest allegations against him before he was returned to the Midlands Prison.

Kenneally is currently appealing the severity of a 14-year sentence imposed on him by Judge Eugene O’Kelly at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court after he pleaded guilty to 10 sample counts of indecent assault on 10 boys aged between 13 and 16, between January 1984 and December 1987.

Details of Kenneally’s second arrest comes as news emerged that Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has written to gardaí in Waterford seeking further information on how they handled the investigation into Kenneally from Laragh, Summerville Avenue in Waterford.

Initial inquiry

It emerged during Kenneally’s sentencing hearing in February 2016 that although the first of these 10 complainants only went to the Garda in November 2012, gardaí in Waterford had been alerted to Kenneally’s sexual abuse as far back as 1987 when the family of another boy contacted them.

A meeting was arranged through Kenneally’s uncle, former Fianna Fáil TD and mayor of Waterford, the late Billy Kenneally and Kenneally went to Waterford Garda station in Ballybricken on December 30th, 1987 where he met two senior officers, Supt Sean Cashman and Insp PJ Hayes.

During the 90-minute meeting, Kenneally made a verbal admission in relation to his activity with the boy.

However, no written statement was taken from him as the boy’s family had opted not to make a formal complaint for personal reasons and gardaí advised Kenneally to go for counselling.

Following Kenneally’s sentence, his victims began campaigning for a commission of inquiry into how gardaí handled the original notification of abuse in 1987.

Six of them had meetings with Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin and various TDs in Waterford and Wexford.

On November 23rd, they met Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, who had already been supplied with a dossier on the case by the victims and had written to the Garda Commissioner Noreen O’Sullivan seeking a response from her about the Garda investigation.

Commissioner O’Sullivan sought a report from gardaí in Waterford which was in turn forwarded to the Minister but Ms Fitzgerald has since asked gardaí in Waterford to furnish her with more information on the investigation into Kenneally.

Resignation

Meanwhile Kenneally’s uncle, Msgr John Shine resigned at the weekend from his position as chairman of the board of management of Holy Cross National School in Tramore following a letter the victims wrote to Pope Francis questioning his suitability to deal with child protection.

In his statement of resignation issued by the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore on Saturday, Msgr Shine said he had decided to step down, “bearing in mind the wishes, and indeed the distress, of the victims of my nephew, Bill Kenneally”.

Msgr Shine also offered to meet the victims of his nephew when he has recovered sufficiently from a recent operation “to hear their views and to share with them all that I know of events of the past” and he expressed hope that he might “be reconciled with them in their immense suffering”.