O Cuiv was also approached by sister of rapist


The Minister of State for Rural Development, Mr Eamon Ó Cuív, has said he was contacted by Patrick Naughton's sister, and that he met her on more than one occasion.

However, the Minister of State told The Irish Times he had made it clear to her that he could not interfere in a legal matter and he informed her of the separation of powers between the Oireachtas and the judiciary.

The Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West received a request to meet Ms Ann Naughton as a constituent and agreed to talk to her in his office at the Department of Agriculture in Dublin. "I didn't know her and I explained to her in detail that I couldn't get involved," Mr Ó Cuív said.

He did not have a date for the meetings, but believed that they took place before Christmas. He believed Ms Naughton had told him that she had also contacted Mr Robert Molloy.

Mr Ó Cuív said he was aware the case involved abuse, but did not seek any more details from Ms Naughton. Nor did he follow the case in court. "Politicians tend to concentrate on the matters directly before them, and we don't always have the time to follow tribunals, court cases and such like, unless we have to comment publicly on them."

The Minister of State said both he and Mr Molloy enjoyed a very high following in Connemara, and it was therefore more likely that approaches would be made to them. However, he said requests for help in relation to a matter before the courts were rare. This was only the second case he had been directly involved in where he had had to explain the judicial process to a constituent, he added.

The Minister of State said it was a pity that Mr Molloy's "illustrious career" should have ended in this way, but he also accepted that there was no motive or intent on Mr Molloy's part. "I also accept that he didn't know the people," the Minister of State said. He had "done the right thing" in resigning, and believed he had no choice but to do so.

The family at the centre of the political row are not known to have any obvious political affiliations, and sources close to the PDs said the convicted man, Patrick Naughton, was not known to the constituency office in Galway West. Naughton is separated from his wife, who is still living in Connemara.

Mr Molloy's Saturday clinics, which he held in Galway's Imperial Hotel and in Oughterard and Clifden, were always very busy, and were often known to run over time. However, his seat appeared to be under pressure in a recent political poll for Galway West, and this, it is believed, may have contributed indirectly to the error of judgment which led to his resignation.

The Connacht-Ulster MEP, Ms Dana Rosemary Scallon, has "made a decision" on whether she will stand for the general election. However, she will not make an announcement on this until next week, according to her brother, Mr John Brown.

"She is not willing to dance on Mr Molloy's grave," Mr Brown said last night. "In any case, her decision does not depend on who is or is not standing in the election with her."

Earlier yesterday, Ms Scallon paid tribute to Mr Molloy as a "very dedicated" and "very respected" politician, and described his resignation as a "very sad situation".

The resignation of Mr Molloy has fuelled further speculation about Ms Scallon's intentions in the Galway constituencies.

However, her stance in the recent abortion referendum attracted much criticism from members of the Galway for Life campaign, some of whom would have been supportive of her in the past.