Wednesday 16 October 2019

Fr Niall Molloy: Priest’s family fury over ‘drug lord deal’

Gemma O'Doherty

THE family of murdered priest Fr Niall Molloy last night demanded the immediate suspension of a Garda investigation into their uncle's killing until the Commissioner Martin Callinan answers claims of corruption within the force.

Their move was followed by calls from the first officer on the scene of the murder that the Garda authorities can no longer ignore the “disturbing allegations of gross misconduct”.

The accusations were made by crime writer Paul Williams in a recent best-selling book.

He said Gardai dropped charges against drug-lord John Traynor in return for the stolen police file on Fr Molloy’s death.

The file was taken from the DPP’s office after a break-in by Traynor’s associate Martin Cahill (‘The General’) because it contained, according to Williams, sensitive information that certain people in power did not want in the public domain.

“For three months now, we have been asking the top Garda in the land to answer claims that one of the country’s most notorious criminals was allowed to walk free so that the Guards could get our uncle’s file back,” says solicitor Henry McCourt, a nephew of Fr Molloy who has been campaigning for justice for his uncle for 27 years.

“We have been hit with a wall of silence. Why is he not out defending the reputation of his force? While Commissioner Callinan chooses to ignore these accusations, his position is simply not tenable. His refusal to deal with them undermines the entire criminal justice system.

“We are calling on Minister Alan Shatter to immediately establish a Commission of Investigation, independent of the Gardai, so that these claims and the many other claims of a cover-up following our uncle’s killing can be aired once and for all. We were promised this by members of the current government before they got into power so why has it not happened? A quarter of a century is too long for any family to wait for justice."

Fr Niall Molloy (52) was savagely killed on a summer’s night in Clara, Co. Offaly in 1985 after a society wedding in the mansion of his close friends Therese and Richard Flynn.

The event was attended by several senior Fianna Fail members including the party’s then deputy leader, Brian Lenihan senior.

The post mortem found that the priest, who was left bleeding for more than five hours, died as a result of severe brain injuries.

Richard Flynn was charged with Fr Molloy's death, but the case dramatically collapsed when the late Justice Frank Roe, former President of the Circuit Court, directed the jury to acquit the defendant.

In the 25 years since, there have been countless questions surrounding the case including allegations of Garda errors, attempted political interference and a judicial cover-up.

It emerged that Justice Roe knew the parties involved and wrote to the then DPP Eamonn Barnes in advance of the trial, in an attempt to subvert the course of justice.

The family and many people in the Midlands believe other parties and not Mr Flynn were responsible for Fr Niall's death.

Grave errors were also made in the initial Garda investigation with vital evidence being handed back to the family days after the killing, and a failure to interview critical witnesses who had information about the murder.

In 2010, the Irish Independent uncovered new evidence, which found that other people were present in the house on the night of the killing including a surgeon who died suddenly six months later aged 50.

The newspaper's probe led to calls in the Dail by Alan Shatter TD and Pat Rabbitte TD that the case be treated as a priority. Deputy Rabbitte called for a Commission of Investigation, but a Garda review was set up. More than 15 months on, no progress has been made.

“Both Alan Shatter and Pat Rabbitte assured us this would be close to the top of their agenda when in power but it has been left to gather even more dust,” said William Maher, a nephew of the priest.

“We have absolutely no confidence in the Gardai to bring our uncle’s killers to justice."

Retired sergeant Kevin Forde said yesterday:

“The Garda authorities have had plenty of time to answer these claims but we have heard nothing from them.”

Sgt Forde was the first officer to find Fr Molloy’s body in the Flynn manor, and describes the case as the most bewildering he has ever worked on.

“People can draw their own conclusions from their silence. To me, the way this case was dealt with never felt right. Now we have these claims the Gardai did a deal with a criminal. That is totally improper and unethical, and they can no longer be ignored by the Gardai or the Department of Justice.”

Irish Independent

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