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Calls for probe into 'sordid cover-up' of Fr Niall Molloy's death

PRESSURE is mounting on Justice Minister Alan Shatter to establish an independent inquiry into the murder of Fr Niall Molloy as fresh claims of garda failings in the case emerge.

The Irish Independent has learned that officers failed to investigate a fraudulent insurance claim on a policy, held by the popular Roscommon priest, which was made just weeks after his brutal killing in July 1985.

Today in the Seanad, Senator John Whelan will call on Minister Shatter to establish an immediate commission of inquiry into what he described as a "sordid cover-up" perpetrated by several institutions of the state.

Yesterday, Deputy Finian McGrath called on the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice to instigate an independent inquiry into the case 'as a matter of urgency'.

Fr Molloy (52) was battered to death in the mansion of his friends Therese and Richard Flynn in Clara, Co Offaly, after seeking the return of a large sum of money he had lent to Mr Flynn.

The post mortem found that the cleric died as a result of several blows to the head. Medical evidence shows that he lay injured for up to six hours before the authorities were called, and that his life could have been saved.

The murder occurred following a party, the day after the society wedding of the Flynn's daughter Maureen and Ralph Parkes, a businessman from a well-known Fianna Fail family.

Richard Flynn was acquitted of manslaughter by Justice Frank Roe after one of the most controversial trials of the 1980s.

It later emerged that the judge knew the parties in the case through horses and wrote to the DPP Eamonn Barnes in advance of the trial.

In the midlands, another individual, not Richard Flynn, is widely believed to have murdered the priest.

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Four weeks after the killing, an attempt was made to cash in an insurance policy belonging to Fr Molloy. The claim form falsely named Therese and Richard Flynn as the priest's sister and brother-in-law but neither of them was related to him.

The insurance firm, the Combined Insurance Company of Ireland, made several demands for a death certificate and other relevant documents but this paperwork was not forthcoming.

Speaking for the first time, the insurance company assessor who handled the case has revealed that the fake claim was not investigated by the Gardai.

Mr Michael Taylor spoke to this newspaper, which has conducted a two-year investigation into the murder, and said he was 'very surprised' that officers did not question him about the claim when details of it emerged in the media in 1988.

"There was no Garda investigation into anything to do with the claim or who made it, from what I know, and it would have been inconceivable for an investigation to have happened without my knowing it," he said.

"You had an attempt to make a fraudulent insurance claim following a violent death. This should have been thoroughly addressed by the Gardai. If the right questions had been asked by them, and consistently asked, answers would have been forthcoming.

"I know now that I am one of just countless witnesses with important evidence who were not interviewed after the murder. I should have been interviewed at the very least and asked to make a statement but I never was."

When the Molloy case was reopened by the Gardai in 2010, as a result of an Irish Independent investigation, Mr Taylor's details were given to officers from the Serious Crime Review Team by the Molloy family.

Following that, officers interviewed Mr Taylor, who no longer works for the insurance firm, but he was disappointed following his meeting with them.

"In my opinion, I didn't feel any sense of urgency even this time around," he said.

"I would have expected more tenacity on their part given that the Molloy family have waited so long for justice."

The new revelations add to the litany of errors and inconsistencies about the Garda handling of the Molloy case, including the contamination of vital evidence by detectives and puzzling statements given by them.

For almost a year, Commissioner Martin Callinan has refused to answer claims by crime writer Paul Williams that detectives dropped charges against gangland boss John Traynor in exchange for the stolen Molloy file.

In 1987, Traynor's associate Martin Cahill, 'The General', stole the Molloy police file from the DPP's office.

It contained sensitive information, including the Roe letters, which powerful figures did not want in the public domain. Cahill planned to use it as a means of embarrassing the State.

Murdered journalist Veronica Guerin first wrote about the Garda deal in 1994 in the Sunday Independent. In the same week, two bullets were fired into her home seconds after she had walked out of the room to put her five-year-old son to bed.

Speaking last night, Laois-Offaly Labour Senator John Whelan said:

"I am seriously disturbed at the mounting volume of significant new evidence emerging in relation to the brutal murder of Fr Niall Molloy, which has been largely unearthed by the Irish Independent.

"It clearly warrants the immediate establishment of an independent inquiry into the circumstances of his death and the subsequent cover-up. The Gardai and others have serious questions to answer about this case and the manner in which it has been grossly mishandled.

I am calling on the Cabinet now to address the growing public disquiet around what can only be described as the countless sinister elements in this terrible case."

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