Relatives of priest call for public inquiry into 1985 death

 

RELATIVES OF Fr Niall Molloy, a priest who died in suspicious circumstances in 1985, have called for a public inquiry into his death on the 25th anniversary of his death.

Fr Molloy (52) was found dead in a pool of blood on July 8th, 1985, at the home of his friends, Richard and Teresa Flynn, at Clara, Co Offaly, on the evening of a family wedding in the house.

Businessman Richard Flynn was charged with manslaughter and causing actual bodily harm, but when the trial began in June 1986, the presiding judge, Judge Frank Roe, directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict.

Judge Roe said that the only evidence against Mr Flynn was his voluntary statement.

At the time, Fr Molloy’s family expressed their concern that all the evidence in the case collected by gardaí was not put before the jury.

Among the evidence gathered was information of a joint bank account in a bank in Westmeath in the names of Fr Niall Molloy and Teresa Flynn.

The family considered bringing a private prosecution, but this did not come to fruition. At the time, legal sources said that it would be very difficult, as Mr Flynn had been acquitted in open court following a decision of the DPP to bring a prosecution.

A two-day inquest in 1986 found that Fr Molloy died as a result of head injuries.

Fr Molloy’s nephew, Bill Maher (59), said yesterday: “The family and friends of Fr Niall still want justice to be done 25 years on and we are calling for a full public inquiry into the events surrounding his death and the subsequent Garda investigation.”

Mr Maher added: “Fr Niall was a great man.

“Everybody loved him. I am fighting for this to honour his memory.”

The family has also set up an online petition to get public backing for its campaign.

A special Mass to mark the 25th anniversary of the death will be celebrated by Bishop of Elphin, Rev Christopher Jones, in Fr Molloy’s former parish church in Castlecoote, Co Roscommon, this evening. Prayers will also be said at Fr Molloy’s graveside in the adjoining cemetery.

Years after the death, Martin Cahill (“The General”) stole the confidential case files on the Garda investigation from the offices of the DPP in a bid to embarrass the authorities. The file was later referred to in a lengthy affidavit from the convicted Dublin criminal John Traynor in a 1996 case, where he described in detail his dealings with journalist Veronica Guerin – then recently murdered.

In the affidavit, he said that at one of their meetings she had produced a file “related to the circumstances of the death of a priest in the midlands”.

Fr Molloy, who was parish priest of Castlecoote at the time of his death, was also a former chaplain in the Defence Forces and served on an overseas tour in Cyprus.