Tuesday 31 March 2015
Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Justice and Equality, has today published the report of Mr. Dominic McGinn SC concerning the Garda Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT) examination relating to the Garda Investigation into the death of Father Niall Molloy.
The Garda SCRT examination of the case followed submissions made by and on behalf of the family of Father Niall Molloy. On foot of the concerns raised by the family, the SCRT carried out a major review of the case which involved an extensive examination of the original investigation, as well as detailed inquiries into the additional issues raised. The SCRT report was submitted to the DPP who advised that there be no further prosecution in the case.
In light of the continued concerns expressed, and so as to put as much information as possible into the public domain, Mr. Dominic McGinn SC was appointed to examine the SCRT review and to
· prepare a report on any issues of public interest which may arise from the SCRT report, with due regard to the rights of those involved, so as to facilitate such a report being put into the public domain, and
· insofar as the question of any further inquiry is concerned, identify matters, if any, of significant public interest or concern which would warrant examination by a further inquiry and in respect of which such further inquiry would have a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth.
Mr. McGinn’s Report outlines in considerable detail the background to this case, the issues of concern raised, and the inquiries carried out by the SCRT. The thrust of his report has been to shed light on as many issues as possible in order to minimise the number of unanswered questions regarding the case. Unanswered questions do remain, but the Report concludes that the precise events surrounding Father Molloy’s death cannot now be ascertained. He concludes that, given the passage of time, the death of many of the pertinent witnesses, and the reluctance of others to give evidence, that it is unlikely any further inquiry would have a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth. Accordingly, he recommends that examination by a further inquiry would not be warranted.
Following consultation with the Attorney General, Mr. McGinn’s report is published with the redaction of names of persons who may have been witnesses or made statements but whose involvement is not in the public domain or arising from a public process, as well as a small number of other redactions made for legal reasons, and agreed with Mr. McGinn.
Minister Fitzgerald said: “First and foremost, we need to acknowledge, as this Report does, that this case involves the tragic death of Father Niall Molloy, a man much loved by his family and by those in the community.
“There have been concerns expressed regarding this case for many years, and it was therefore very welcome that the Garda Serious Crime Review Team re-examined it in a comprehensive fashion. The outcome of that process was that a further prosecution was not directed by the DPP. That decision will have come as a disappointment to Father Molloy’s family but we need to recognise that this is the independent process through which our system determines whether criminal charges should be brought for serious offences. The DPP must proceed on the basis of evidence and the law, notwithstanding the strength of feelings which exist regarding a case.
“As Minister I have no role in the prosecution process but I am of course very aware of the claims which have been made about Father Molloy’s death over many years. In an effort to address concerns about this matter, it was decided to appoint Mr. McGinn to independently assess what information could be put into the public domain regarding the case, and to advise as to whether further inquiry would be warranted. This was an exceptional course of action, motivated by the desire to bring the greatest possible transparency to bear.
“Mr. McGinn’s report does an important service in outlining in considerable detail the background to the case. It brings greater clarity to many of the issues raised regarding the case, and outlines how some of the concerns expressed are simply not supported by evidence. It sets out shortcomings in the original investigation, which were identified by the SCRT Review. The Report does not answer all of the questions raised, however, and concludes that the precise events surrounding Father Molloy’s death cannot now be ascertained. In these circumstances, Mr. McGinn recommends that examination by a further inquiry would not be warranted.
“In accepting this recommendation I fully appreciate that it will come as a disappointment for Father Molloy’s family and for those who have campaigned on their behalf. I hope they will accept, however, that a considerable level of detail is being put into the public domain, and that every effort has been made to answer as many questions as it is possible to do. As Minister for Justice and Equality, I know that it is not always possible to obtain answers for families who have lost a loved one in violent circumstances. The grief felt by families in these circumstances is greatly compounded by not knowing precisely what happened, and not seeing someone unambiguously held to account. I sympathise deeply with Father Molloy’s family and others who have faced this.
“Ultimately, however, I have to determine whether further inquiry would be warranted in the public interest and would have some prospect of success. In this instance, based on the work of the SCRT and Mr. McGinn’s careful analysis, I must conclude that it would not."
Note for Editors
On 8 July 1985, Gardaí were alerted to the death of Fr. Niall Molloy whose body was found in the home of Mr. Richard Flynn and Mrs. Theresa Flynn at Clara, Co. Offaly. Following a Garda investigation and directions from the DPP, Mr. Flynn was charged with manslaughter and assault. At his trial the jury was directed to find him not guilty on both counts. The death of Father Molloy, the acquittal of Mr. Flynn, and various other circumstances relating to the incident have been the subject of deep dissatisfaction for Father Molloy’s family for many years and have attracted considerable public attention and controversy.
The report of Mr. Dominic McGinn SC concerning the Garda Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT) examination relating to the Garda Investigation into the death of Father Niall Molloy is available on the Department of Justice and Equality website at http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/McGinn