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Judge lifts ban on naming ex-priest Bill Carney accused of historic child sex abuse


Bill Carney

Bill Carney

Bill Carney

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

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.


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


Her ruling came following submissions from lawyers for the Irish Independent, RTE, The Irish Times, and the Irish Daily Mail's publishers Associated Newspapers.


The case was adjourned for two weeks.


John Fitzgerald BL, for RTE, 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.


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

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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 been no evidence of that,” he submitted.


The arguments advanced by the lawyers for RTE 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 also said there was no statutory impediment with regards to the defendant being identified but there was in relation to the anonymity of the alleged injured parties.


Mr Carney, who was wearing a green jumper white shirt and grey trousers, did not address the court during the lengthy legal argument about the media's right to name him in their coverage of the case.


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


Ruling on this issue, 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 in those circumstances to remove the anonymity order in the case as it proceeds.

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