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Gardai must answer cover-up claims, say family of slain priest

THE family of a murdered priest have called on the gardai to answer sensational new claims that the force was involved in a top-level cover-up of the case.

Fresh allegations on the investigation into the death of Fr Niall Molloy have been made in a new book.

'Badfellas', by crime writer Paul Williams, claims that notorious Dublin criminal John Traynor returned a stolen garda file on the Molloy case in return for charges being dropped against him.

Mr Williams says: "The file contained notes and statements that certain people in power did not want in the public domain."

The priest's family has been seeking justice for almost 27 years, and nephew Bill Maher last night said: "If this extraordinary claim is untrue, why won't the gardai come straight out and deny it?"

Last night, former detective inspector Gerry O'Carroll, who initiated his own investigation into the case following personal concerns of a cover-up, described the revelations regarding Traynor as "disturbing in the extreme".

The gardai yesterday failed to answer questions about the claims of a cover-up.

Fr Molloy was brutally beaten to death in July 1985 after a society wedding at the home of Theresa and Richard Flynn in Clara, Co Offaly.

A post-mortem found that the 52-year-old curate died as a result of blows to the head.

The bride's father, Richard Flynn, was charged with manslaughter one year later.

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But in a bizarre twist, the trial judge directed that Mr Flynn be acquitted on the grounds that Fr Molloy may have died of a heart attack.

But this was ruled out at an inquest one month later.

It subsequently emerged that Mr Justice Frank Roe was an acquaintance of the Flynns and had written to the then DPP Eamonn Barnes before the trial, in an attempt to subvert the course of justice.

In October 2010, the Irish Independent uncovered new evidence that other people were present in the house on the night of the murder.

This information was given to gardai, and former commissioner Fachtna Murphy requested a review of the case by the cold case unit, which has been ongoing now for more than a year.

But last month, the Molloy family expressed their "utter disillusionment" at the pace of this review.

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