JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter will decide shortly whether to launch an independent inquiry into the murder of Fr Niall Molloy, he told the Dail yesterday.
He was responding to a question by Roscommon TD Denis Naughten about the brutal killing of the cleric 27 years ago.
The controversial case has been reopened following an investigation by the Irish Independent.
Minister Shatter said that a Garda examination of the case will soon to go to the Commissioner, at which point he will review the situation.
The Minister was also challenged about claims by crime writer Paul Williams that the Gardai dropped charges against drug-lord John Traynor in return for the stolen police file on the priest’s death.
Williams says in his latest book this was because it contained sensitive information that certain people in power did not want in the public domain.
Deputy Naughten asked Minister Shatter why the Garda Commissioner had refused to respond to these claims.
The Minister said he was not aware “personally of any deal being made with anybody in these matters.”
Meanwhile, an organisation representing hundreds of Irish priests has added its voice to the campaign of justice for Fr Molloy, who was beaten to death after a society wedding in Clara, Co Offaly in 1985.
Fr Sean McDonagh of the Association of Catholic Priests last night called on the Justice Minister to set up an independent inquiry to investigate ‘countless inconsistencies’ in the case, including claims of Garda misconduct.
“For 27 years now, Niall’s family have been fighting for justice against a backdrop of endless unanswered questions and disturbing allegations against the institutions of the State,” said Fr McDonagh.
“Yet his killers still walk the streets. Fine Gael promised to put integrity, transparency and honesty at the heart of government so it is high time this family’s tireless fight for justice was brought to an end. An independent Commission of Investigation must be established by Minister Shatter without further delay.”
Fr Molloy (52) was beaten to death in the Offaly mansion of his close friends Therese and Richard Flynn after the wedding of their daughter Maureen in July 1985.
The lavish affair was attended by a number of high profile politicians, including the late Brian Lenihan senior, then deputy leader of Fianna Fail.
Richard Flynn was charged with the priest’s manslaughter but the trial collapsed dramatically when the late Justice Frank Roe directed the jury to acquit him.
It later emerged Justice Roe knew the parties involved and had written to the then DPP Eamonn Barnes before the trial, in an attempt to subvert the course of justice.
The priest’s family and many people in the Midlands believe other individuals and not Mr Flynn were responsible for Fr Niall's death.
Last night, the Molloy family spoke of their ongoing frustration at the Garda handling of the case and demanded answers from Commissioner Martin Callinan.
“Almost two years into a Garda review, and despite all the evidence at their disposal, it seems we are no closer to getting justice for Niall,” says solicitor Henry McCourt, a nephew of Fr Molloy.
“It is astonishing and entirely unacceptable that Commissioner Callinan continues to ignore claims of Garda misconduct in our uncle’s case made by one of the country’s most eminent crime reporters.
“While these shocking allegations hang in the air, they are a stain on every member of his force and the integrity of the Irish justice system. We have long since lost faith in the Gardai’s ability to bring Niall’s killers to justice and are deeply disappointed that promises made by a number of government ministers while in opposition remain unfulfilled, but we will never give up our fight for justice.”