Abuse survivors calls for inquiry into activities of Bill Kenneally
Man claims gardaí were aware as far back as 1979 that Kenneally was abusing boys
Bill Kenneally. File photograph: Patrick Browne
The revelation that gardaí in Waterford were aware of the activities of sex abuser, Bill Kenneally in the 1970s further highlights the need for a full Commission of Investigation into the activities of state agencies in the city, a survivor of Kenneally’s abuse has claimed.
Jason Clancy, whose complaint to gardaí in 2012 led to an investigation which resulted in Kenneally (67) being prosecuted and jailed for 14 years, said he had recently been contacted by a man who said he had been abused by Kenneally in 1979 and gardaí in Waterford were aware of the abuse.
“This chap is living now in America and he told me that he and some other lads ended up in Waterford Garda Station over an incident out at a garage in the Dunmore Road in 1979 and the guards asked him about Bill Kenneally,” he said.
“The chap was around 15 at the time and he and a handful of his friends had been abused by Kenneally in the Dunmore Road area for a number of years and he said that the gardaí seemed to be well aware of Kenneally’s activities when they questioned them about him.”
Mr Clancy pointed out that if gardaí were aware of Kenneally’s sexual abuse in 1979, it means that they knew about it eight years earlier than previously thought after details emerged at Kenneally’s sentencing in 2016 that gardaí received a complaint of abuse about Kenneally in 1987.
Det Garda Maureen Neary told Kenneally’s trial at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court in February 2016 how he admitted to gardaí during a search of his house in 2012 that he had met with gardaí in 1987 after the family of another boy contacted gardaí concerned he had abused their son.
And Det Garda Neary confirmed to Kenneally’s defence counsel, Michael Counihan SC that Kenneally had been invited to Waterford Garda Station on December 30th, 1987, where he met with Supt Sean Cashman and Insp PJ Hayes after this other boy’s parents contacted gardaí about their concerns.
The meeting had been arranged by his uncle, former Mayor of Waterford and local TD, Billy Kenneally and Kenneally made verbal admissions in relation to his activity with the boy but no written statement was taken as the boy’s family opted not to make a formal complaint.
But Mr Clancy said the news that a now 52-year-old man alleges gardaí knew about the abuse some eight years earlier calls into the question the handling of the case by gardaí and other state agencies at the time and further underscores the need for a full public investigation.
“If gardaí knew about Kenneally’s activities as far back as 1979 and had acted on the information that they received, myself and the other boys abused by Kenneally in the mid-1980s could have been saved from that abuse – it’s just incredible to think that nothing was done by the authorities.
“It really highlights the need for the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan to allow this Commission of Investigation, which the government promised us last April, to go ahead as a matter of urgency because there are some serious questions about who knew what that need to be answered.”
Mr Flanagan said yesterday that legal advice from the Attorney General had pointed out the fact the new complainants had come forward since Kenneally was jailed for abusing Mr Clancy and nine other complainants and files had been sent to the DPP means Kenneally may face further charges.
The new complainants are entitled to have their complaints investigated fully while any potential accused was entitled to a fair trial and it would be inappropriate for the Government to undertake any action that would compromise these investigations or prosecutions, he said.
“Therefore, even if a Commission were to be established now, its work would be seriously delayed to allow for the completion of outstanding investigations and prosecutions. This would not be in the public interest, or in the best interest of those directly affected,” he said.