ONE of Ireland's most experienced detectives last night challenged garda claims that there is no evidence of a cover-up in the case of murdered priest Fr Niall Molloy.
Gerry O'Carroll, who worked on more than 80 murder cases, was responding to a story in yesterday's Irish edition of the ‘Sunday Times’.
It said the Garda Cold Case Unit had “found no evidence to support allegations of a cover-up by gardai, politicians or judges”.
But Mr O’Carroll, a former detective inspector, said: “The Molloy case is the only one that I can put my hand on my heart and say was a massive cover-up.
“The Phoenix Park (garda HQ) tried to silence me when I got vital evidence about the case and attempted to investigate it myself.
“Two superintendents came in and searched my office. I told them nobody would silence me. When I joined the guards, I swore an oath of office that I would do my work without fear, favour, malice or ill-will.
“The gardai have a mountain of evidence. It must be taken out of their hands immediately and the Government must set up a judicial inquiry into this horrendous case.
“I want to get justice for Fr Molloy whose poor body was not only wrecked but whose reputation was tarnished for ever by a cock and bull story. The whole thing stinks to high heaven.”
Fr Molloy (52) was murdered at the home of his friends Richard and Therese Flynn in Co Offaly in July 1985, after requesting the return of a large sum of money owed to him.
The murder took place after a wedding party attended by several Fianna Fail politicians, including a household name.
Fr Molloy was first beaten up downstairs, then his battered body was placed in the bedroom of the couple’s Clara mansion.
The course of justice was interfered with by judge Frank Roe who heard the trial even though he knew the parties involved.
Kevin Forde, a retired sergeant from Clara who was the first officer on the scene on the night of the murder, described the original investigation into the priest's death as the “strangest” he was ever involved in.
He was first informed about the murder by the town's parish priest Fr James Deignan who asked him if it could be “kept quiet”.
Last night, Sgt Forde said: “The Gardai have very serious questions to answer about their handling of the Fr Molloy murder. There were so many inconsistencies. I would have grave concerns about the original investigation. Close neighbours who might have heard or seen something suspicious were never interviewed. There were no proper searches from what I could tell. Some blood samples from the scene were never identified.
“This was a very violent killing and we know Niall was left for several hours when help could have saved his life. That was the worst aspect of it. It is disgraceful that the family have been deprived of justice for so long and that a dangerous killer is still on the loose. The public deserve the truth at this stage.”
The Molloy family said last night they were “disgusted, but not surprised” by the Cold Case allegations.
They have been in touch with the office of the Garda Ombudsman in relation to the Sunday Times leak, why it was made and who made it.
Last week in the Seanad, their uncle's murder was described as “the biggest cover-up in the history of the state”.
A number of government senators have tabled questions to Justice Minister Alan Shatter about the case for this week.
Last night, Laois Offaly Labour senator John Whelan said:
“The reported contention by the Gardai that there is no evidence of any cover-up in relation to the Fr Niall Molloy case is hugely disappointing but hardly surprising. It only serves to underscore the urgent need now for an independent inquiry into this disturbing case and highlights once more the deficit of credibility of the Garda authorities investigating themselves.
“This is not in the interest of the force and its many committed and dedicated officers, who I am sure also want to see justice served.
“If the Garda cold case investigation is now concluded then there is no other recourse to restore confidence in the institutions of the State and ensure justice for Fr Molloy, his family and the community at large than for the Minister Shatter to establish as promised a commission of inquiry into this whole sordid affair.”