Ex-priest on child sex abuse charges can be named, judge rules

Newspapers and RTÉ challenged gag order

Former priest William Carney

Former priest William Carney


A former priest awaiting trial on historic child sex abuse charges does not have the right to anonymity, a judge held yesterday.

William Carney, aged 62, is charged with 34 counts of indecent assault of eight boys and two girls, at locations in Dublin and north east Leinster from 1969 until 1989.

Yesterday at Cloverhill District Court, Judge Gráinne Malone lifted an earlier gag order prohibiting the media from naming the 62-year-old who currently has no fixed address.

Her ruling came following submissions from lawyers for RTÉ, The Irish Times , the Irish Independent and the Irish Daily Mail ’s publishers Associated Newspapers. The case was adjourned for two weeks.

John Fitzgerald BL, for RTÉ, said the constitution states that justice has to be administered in public, and he argued that the news media has to report on matters in the interest of the public.

No statutory basis
He submitted that there was no statutory basis for the order prohibiting the naming of the accused man unless there were exceptional circumstances.

Solicitor Tony Williams, for the Irish Independent , also said that there was no legislative provision barring the identification of Mr Carney.

“There has to be a question whether his right to a fair trial requires him to be anonymised, but there has be no evidence of that,” he submitted.

The arguments advanced by the lawyers for RTÉ and Irish Independent were reiterated by solicitors David Phelan and Michael Keely who represented The Irish Times and Associated Newspapers respectively.

State solicitor Tom Conlon said there was no statutory impediment to identifying the defendant but there was in relation to the anonymity of the alleged injured parties.

Mr Carney did not address the court during the lengthy legal argument.

His counsel Sinéad Prunty asked the judge not to lift the order citing his right to a fair trial.

Judge Malone said the matters before the court were covered by case law and not legislation and she was not satisfied that the “exceptional circumstances argument” had been made out by the defence. She held that it was appropriate to remove the anonymity order.