O'Donoghue releases 15 letters in Naughton case

 

The Minister for Justice, Mr O’Donoghue, has released 15 letters he says were exchanged between his department and that of former minister Mr Bobby Molloy in relation to the Naughton rape case.

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I was surprised there was so much correspondence in relation to this case . . . As far as I am concerned, this is now the end of the matter.
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Minister for Justice, Mr O’Donoghue

Mr O’Donoghue said the letters prove that at no time was there "any impropriety" on his behalf.

"I always said throughout this was not a matter I could be involved in," he said tonight. The letters were only released today following an extensive trawl through records at the Department of Justice today.

"Hundreds of articles of mail are dealt with by the Department every day," Mr O’Donoghue said when questioned why he did not mention them yesterday. "I was surprised there was so much correspondence in relation to this case."

"As far as I am concerned, this now the end of the matter," he told RTÉ tonight.

The letters released today by Mr O'Donoghue were sent between March 2001 and last month.

The controversy erupted after it emerged in a special court sitting on Tuesday that Mr Justice Philip O'Sullivan had received a phone call from an official in the Department of Justice as well as a call from an official in Mr Molloy's office in relation to the rape case of Patrick Naughton. Naughton was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Tuesday for repeatedly raping his daughter.

The Labour Party this evening renewed its calls for an independent inquiry into the circumstances that led to Mr Molloy’s resignation.

Fine Gael also joined Labour in calling for the Minister for Justice Mr O’Donoghue to explain why he had previously concealed the correspondence on the case.

"It is now very clear that we have not yet heard the full story of this extraordinary case, but what is clear is that relevant information has been withheld by the Department of Justice," Labour leader Mr Ruairí Quinn said.

Mr Quinn queried why the letters had not been released on Tuesday, when the story first broke, or when Mr O’Donoghue made his statement yesterday.

The Fine Gael justice spokesman, Mr Alan Shatter, said Mr O’Donoghue had more questions to answer. "He must now clarify what advice he gave to the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste on this matter on Tuesday when they defended the actions of Minister Molloy and publicly said he should not resign."

"A refusal by the Fianna Fáil/PD coalition to establish an investigation can only mean that Bertie Ahern and Mary Harney do not want the truth to emerge," Mr Quinn added.