Saturday 27 December 2014

The death of Fr Niall Molloy

As a member of the Flynn family, I'm appealing for the truth to be made known

Dr Kate Flynn

Dr Kate Flynn is a world-renowned academic who specialises in peace studies. Her work has taken her to South Africa, Eastern Europe and Northern Ireland. But one story of conflict which has unfolded in the last two years has affected her on a personal level.

It is the case of Fr Niall Molloy, the popular Roscommon priest who was beaten to death after a glamorous society wedding in an Offaly mansion in 1985. A number of Fianna Fáil politicians were present in the Clara manor on the day of his murder, including a household name.

For almost 30 years, his family have been seeking justice in a case that was described in the Seanad last month as "the biggest cover-up in the history of the State".

These words were reiterated recently by an eminent murder-squad officer, Detective Inspector Gerry O'Carroll, who has made a statement to that effect recently to the gardaí.

Kate Flynn heard about the killing years ago, but only recently became aware of the astonishing background after reading an investigation by the Irish Independent.

What she has learnt has shocked her. The reason she feels so strongly is that Richard Flynn, the man in whose house Fr Niall was killed, is her uncle.

At the time, Mr Flynn claimed he was the culprit. Some months later, he was charged with the manslaughter and assault of the 52-year-old cleric. But, both then and now, in the midlands, it is widely believed another person was responsible for the killing.

Mr Flynn's trial was one of the most sensational of the 1980s. Amid huge controversy, Justice Frank Roe dramatically halted the hearing in less than four hours, and ordered the jury to acquit the defendant.

There was consternation in the courtroom and calls for a public inquiry in the Dáil.

It later emerged that the judge was a friend of the Flynns and had written to the then-Director of Public Prosecutions Eamonn Barnes before the trial stating he knew them.

More recently, questions have been asked about the adequacy of the initial garda investigation. Vital evidence was contaminated, contradictory statements were given and received, and witnesses with crucial information were never interviewed.

Since the trial, Richard Flynn, who lives in Ballymahon, Co Longford today, has said his conscience is clear.

The inquest into Fr Niall's death found that he died from head injuries. At the time, Mr Flynn's only son David was interviewed briefly on RTÉ in a dramatic clip which left the Molloy family stunned.

When Kate Flynn watched the interview for the first time last September, during a piece about the case by Miriam O'Callaghan on Prime Time, she, too, was baffled.

Dr Flynn was disturbed by her cousin's comments. She wondered what he meant. What were these answers he talked about and what exactly was it that he found so difficult to live with? Today, in the Irish Independent, Dr Flynn has decided to speak publicly about the case for the first time.

She also makes an appeal to David Flynn, who lives in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, to disclose what he knows about the killing in the hope that it will reveal information that will lead to the perpetrator being brought to justice and Fr Molloy's family finally gaining closure after 28 years.

"I was deeply troubled as I listened to his words," Dr Flynn says.

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