Victims of Bill Kenneally urge Government to proceed with inquiry

Abuse survivors appeal for information on former Waterford sports coach’s crimes

Victims of Waterford sex abuser Bill Kenneally have appealed to anyone with any information about the former sports coach's crimes to contact them.

They have also urged the Government to proceed with a public inquiry into what they allege was a cover up of his actions.

Abuse survivors Colin Power, Barry Murphy, Paul Walsh and Jason Clancy made the appeal for information in a video posted on Facebook just before Christmas, which has to date been viewed almost 140,000 times.

Kenneally (67), an accountant and member of a political family from Laragh, Summerville Avenue, Waterford, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in February 2016 after pleading guilty to 10 sample counts of indecently assaulting 10 boys between October 1984 and December 1987.


Last April, the then minister for justice Frances Fitzgerald announced a commission of inquiry would take place into the handling of the case by State agencies, including the gardaí, after it emerged at trial that gardaí had received a complaint about Kenneally as far back as 1987.

A month later, retired circuit court judge Barry Hickson was appointed to lead the inquiry but a stay has since been put on the inquiry pending Kenneally's appeal against severity of sentence and an investigation by gardaí of new complaints against him.

In the Facebook video, Mr Power says two boys, aged 13 and 14, told a teacher at their school in the mid-1980s that they were being abused by Kenneally. He said they were sent for counselling under the auspices of the South Eastern Health Board but nothing was done regarding Kenneally.

“These boys were in counselling and yet we were being abused at the same time – it wasn’t just the counsellors that knew it,” he said.

Mr Murphy described Kenneally’s abuse and the fact it was known by the authorities in the 1980s as “Waterford’s big dirty secret”. He said that he believed “an awful lot more people knew about this than were letting on”.

Mr Walsh said he tried to forget about the abuse but he had to speak up when he saw his 14-year-old son come home one evening in his school uniform, as he himself had done 30 years earlier after being abused by Kenneally.

He said on an almost daily basis he would meet somebody who he believed was also abused by Kenneally or who knew about the abuse but did nothing either at the time or since to come forward and report it.

Mr Clancy, who triggered the investigation into Kenneally when he made a complaint to gardaí in November 2012, said the Government’s decision to put a stay on the commission of inquiry was yet another blow to Kenneally’s victims.

“I was abused by Bill Kenneally over 300 times over the course of 3½ years. I feel absolutely disgusted by the government; they weren’t handcuffed, they weren’t blindfolded, tied to trees in forest, they weren’t abused, we were the ones abused,” he said.

“People are telling me to let it lie, to let it go but I can’t do that – I’m a father of four children and I absolutely won’t allow this be brushed under the carpet again, we were brushed under the carpet as kids, we are not going to let it happen again.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times