Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said the commission of inquiry into the handling of paedophile sports coach Bill Kenneally should start "in the next few weeks".
The Minister said there is "no delay" associated with the inquiry, which is due to look at how the State and church authorities dealt with the case of the former basketball coach who was jailed last year for 14 years after admitting to the abuse of a number of boys in Waterford in the 1980s.
Retired judge Barry Hickson will chair the inquiry which has been sought by a number of Kenneally's victims since the case was heard at Waterford Circuit Court in 2016.
“I want this commission of inquiry to start at the very earliest opportunity,” Mr Flanagan told reporters at the opening of the extended and refurbished Waterford courthouse on Monday afternoon. “I don’t accept that there has been any undue delay. This has been a priority of mine as Minister for Justice, however I acknowledge that there were some legal and technical challenges that had to be overcome.”
The Minister had a "round-table meeting" with some of the victims last week, he said, and has been in touch with Mr Hickson and An Garda Síochána. Officials from his department have been in contact with the DPP's office on the matter.
“We are now crossing the ‘t’s and dotting the ‘i’s on the final terms of reference. I’m pleased, of course, to discuss the terms of reference with the victims. This is a commission for them and I am anxious that, at the earliest opportunity, judge Hickson can commence his work and that the truth can be uncovered in full.”
Mr Flanagan said there were “a number of difficulties” involved in getting the inquiry up and running. “However, having considered the matter over the last few months, I’m satisfied that we can proceed and I look forward to proceeding at the earliest opportunity. This is a priority of mine, there is no delay involved here and I look forward to the commission being established in the next few weeks.”
Kenneally (67) pleaded guilty in 2016 to 10 sample counts of indecently assaulting 10 boys at different locations in Waterford city in the 1980s. The 14-year prison term imposed by Judge Eugene O’Kelly in the Circuit Court was upheld by the Court of Appeal earlier this year.