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Former TD 'was told cousin abused boys but he said nothing'


Abuse : Bill Kenneally, the paedophile and a former basketball coach, pictured in Waterford in 2013. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Abuse : Bill Kenneally, the paedophile and a former basketball coach, pictured in Waterford in 2013. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Abuse : Bill Kenneally, the paedophile and a former basketball coach, pictured in Waterford in 2013. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

A former Fianna Fail Minister has said he was told his cousin was a sex abuser in 2002 - but he didn't report the matter to gardai.

Brendan Kenneally was a TD in Waterford and served as Minister of State in the early 1990s. His first cousin, sports coach and accountant Bill Kenneally (66), was sentenced last February to 14 years for the horrific abuse of young teenage boys in the 1980s in Waterford.


Brendan Kenneally

Brendan Kenneally

Brendan Kenneally

Victims of the paedophile are to take legal action against the State, Garda and the Health Service Executive; they want the Minister for Justice to set up a Commission of Inquiry into who knew what about Bill Kenneally.

A new victim has come forward saying he told gardai about his abuse in 1985, two years before Waterford gardai claim they first knew.

Bill Kenneally is currently appealing his sentence of 14 years. He pleaded guilty to 10 sample charges of abusing 10 boys in the 1980s.

Kenneally preyed on young teenage boys in and around Waterford city and used sport and basketball to groom them before carrying out horrific abuse. Five of the 10 boys, now in their 40s, waived anonymity in February for an RTE Prime Time programme so they could outline the litany of abuse and how their lives changed forever.

Former South Eastern Health Board officials say they didn't know about Kenneally - even though at least two victims had counselling through the health board.

The victims also want the role of Fianna Fail and the Catholic Church investigated.

The mother of one victim says former TD Brendan Kenneally (a cousin of the paedophile) was told in 2002 that her son was being abused.

"He said to leave it with him and he would get the Monsignor to deal with it," she says.

The former TD says that contrary to what people might think, he wasn't aware of his cousin being an abuser in the 1970s, '80s or '90s.

"The first time I became aware of it was in early 2002 when someone very close to a victim told me," said Brendan Kenneally. "I was shocked and blown away by it and nearly fell off the chair. I made sure certain things were done and I got him assessed medically, which found he wasn't still offending."

When asked did he talk to gardai about it, Brendan Kenneally says he didn't, as the victim said he didn't want to go further with it. And regarding the Monsignor, he said: "Yes, I spoke with him about it."

Monsignor John Shine said he didn't know in the past about his nephew Bill Kenneally being an abuser.

Last week, another victim spoke for the first time about how he was groomed by Bill Kenneally in 1984 and 1985 when he used to play football in a local park in the city with a group of friends.

"Like others, he gained my trust by giving me money over a period of time to buy things for myself and a match programme from my favourite English football team," said John (not his real name).

"Then one day near the end of my Junior Cert exams he saw me walking and asked me to get into his car. Nothing had happened to me before that day but he took me to an isolated area and abused me. I was shocked and terrified and didn't know what to do or who to tell.

"I wanted to tell someone but felt I couldn't tell my parents or a relation. So I went to the garda station and said I wanted to make a complaint and told the garda that I had been sexually abused. He took me aside from the front counter and asked me who it was. When I said the name 'Bill Kenneally' his demeanour changed as if he wanted me gone. He asked how old I was and when I said I was 14 just going on 15 he said I would need an adult to make a statement.

"He told me to come back. I left the station but couldn't tell any other adult and I just kept it to myself.

"It changed me. I became withdrawn into myself, gave up sports and stopped trusting people. I was unable to apply myself sufficiently at school but did manage to go to college.

"I stayed away from Kenneally but I never heard anything from the guards afterwards. When I heard that Kenneally was up in court for abusing boys, I cried."

Gardai in Waterford claim they knew nothing about Kenneally and his abuse until 1987, when the fathers of two boys contacted them to say the basketball coach had abused their sons. Gardai claim the fathers didn't want the boys to make statements and asked the perpetrator to come to the station.

In late December he did and was interviewed by then Superintendent Sean Cashman and Inspector PJ Hayes. He admitted abuse and said he would stop.

"When he walked into the station he was a broken man," says Cashman. "He said 'I know why I'm here lads, and I'm glad to be here, because I want to be looked after', or words to that effect."

I interviewed Sean Cashman about that meeting: "You had a man in the station, albeit not under arrest, admitting he had been involved in abusing children?

"And yet you let him out of the station with a slap on the wrist?"

Cashman replied: "Oh, he didn't get even a slap, no slaps were administered at all. It was a professional approach as far as I was concerned. We did not have evidence to charge him."

"But he admitted it."

"Ahhh, he admits it. I've known a case where a man came into the station and admitted murder that he hadn't done. He did admit it, but I have to say, I knew he was the culprit, it wasn't a question of his imagination running away, I knew he was the culprit. But I didn't have a statement from an injured party."

Kenneally was never arrested until 2012, when survivor Jason Clancy found out Kenneally was still involved in basketball.

Jason went to gardai, who initiated a train of events which would lead to Kenneally being being sentenced to 14 years in jail.

Now, victims have been told a video tape was found when gardai raided Kenneally's house in 2012. It allegedly shows Kenneally engaging in a sexual act with a minor.

"We believe this is crucial," says Jason, "as the existence of this video can tell us a lot about if Kenneally abused after 1988 and therefore if the gardai did not stop the abuse."

Belfast-based human rights lawyer Darragh Mackin met victims last week and is writing to the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald seeking an urgent meeting, calling for an inquiry.

He is also calling for Monsignor Shine to step down as chairperson of the Board of Management of Holy Cross School National School in Tramore.

Damien Tiernan is South East Correspondent for RTE

Who's who in the Bill Kenneally sex abuse scandal

Bill Kenneally (66):  Accountant; former local and Irish basketball coach; Fianna Fail tallyman; nephew of the late Billy Kenneally (former Fianna Fail TD); first cousin of Brendan Kenneally.  Bill Kenneally pleaded guilty in December 2015 to 10 sample charges of sexual abuse, one each for 10 boys he assaulted in the 1980s. In February 2016, he was sentenced to 14 years and two months in prison.

Brendan Kenneally (61): Son of Billy Kenneally and first cousin of convicted paedophile Bill Kenneally. Elected to the Dail in 1989; lost seat in 2002; appointed Senator by An Taoiseach; regained his Dail seat in 2007; appointed Minister of State for Tourism, Transport and Communications in 1992; Director of Elections in the 2016 general election for Mary Butler in the Waterford constituency.

Monsignor John Shine: Parish of Tramore; Uncle of convicted paedophile Bill Kenneally (Bill Kenneally's mother and Monsignor Shine are brother and sister).

Superintendent Sean Cashman: Personally dealt with the complaints against Bill Kenneally; interviewed him in December 1987 but never arrested him. Retired in 1995. Lives in Waterford.

Inspector P.J. Hayes : Along with Sean Cashman, he dealt with the complaints against Bill Kenneally and says he has been "best friends with Monsignor Shine for over 40 years". Lives in Tramore.

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