From top: Irish Press cover the morning after the fire; eight of those who perished in the fire; Irish Examiner cover in May, 2016 in which former Garda Frank Mullen denied any involvement in the House of Horrors and the Howard fire.
On May 3, former garda Frank Mullen gave an interview to Irish Examiner journalist Michael Clifford.
On the following Sunday, May 8, Mr Clifford broadcast an interview with Mr Mullen, and his wife Ellen, on Newstalk.
The subject of both interviews was Cynthia Owen and allegations she has made against Mr Mullen, a founder of the Garda Representative Association and former chairman of Dalkey United football club.
Mrs Owen has alleged that she was prostituted by her parents to a group of local men, including three local gardaí, in the 1970s.
In January of this year, she posted on her Facebook page photographs of the surviving men alleged by her to have been involved in this abuse. These photographs included Mr Mullen.
Mr Mullen strenuously denied the allegations in both interviews.
But Mr Mullen also referred to a fire that took place at 8, Carysfort Avenue in Dalkey in the early hours of Monday, March 11, 1974.
The fire claimed the lives of news vendor Derek (41) and Stella Howard (37), who was pregnant, and 11 of their 13 children – Louise (19), Derek (17), Jackie (15), Margaret (13), Jimmy (11), Collette (9), Marcella (8), Ronald (7), Catherine (3), Victoria (2) and Alan (1).
Three members of the Howard family – Louise, 19; Colm, 14 and Anthony, 12 – initially survived the fire. Louise later died on March 18.
In the Irish Examiner article, Mr Mullen explained that, during a Garda interview in 2014, as part of a review of Ms Owen’s allegations, he was shown a list of allegations against him that “numbered over 100”.
This was the first time, he said, that he learned allegations had been made against him concerning the Howard fire.
Mr Mullen told Mr Clifford:
“I was told a document came into their possession. He [a garda] read it out about the disaster of the Howard family where 13 of them were burned to death in Dalkey. He said there was an allegation that me and others broke into the Howard family home, murdered some of them with a pick-axe handle, and burned the bodies. And that I drove one of those left alive around and tried to kill him.”
In the article, Mr Mullen says he didn’t hear any more as, after being notified of these allegations, he passed out. An ambulance was called, but he recovered without having to go to hospital. Later that year, he suffered a stroke.
In the Newstalk interview, Mr Mullen talked again about the first time he heard there were allegations against him concerning the fire.
Mr Mullen said:
“Out of the blue, they produced an envelope and they said, ‘we’ve one thing here to mention to you. It’s the Howard disaster’. And I didn’t know what they were going to say and they said that myself and others had broken into the Howard house and murdered these people and then set fire to destroy the evidence. I got such a shock that I passed out. I physically passed out that week. I couldn’t believe it and that was the first I’d ever heard about it. And I have heard nothing about it since except that it’s beyond belief that the Garda Siochana would have that sort of information and that I was never told about it. And, what more can I say?”
During the interview, Ellen Howard said this exchange with the gardai took place on July 17, 2014. She also said that Frank Mullen’s father and Derek Howard’s fathers were friends as they worked in the corporation together.
In the Irish Examiner article, Mr Clifford wrote that it was his understanding that the allegations against Mr Mullen in relation to the fire, were made to the gardai via Ms Owen.
Mr Clifford wrote:
“The Irish Examiner understands that the allegation originated with the surviving member of the Howard family, who has died in the last year. It was passed on to Cynthia Owen, who conveyed it to the gardaí.”
But, in contrast, Ms Owen’s solicitor Gerry Dunne told Mr Clifford:
“A number of years ago Anthony Howard made contact with our client through social media and informed her that he had been trying to get the Gardaí to deal with his allegations for some time without success. Extremely serious allegations were made by Mr Howard against Frank Mullen, which up until then our client was unaware of. Our client understands that when Anthony Howard attended a Memorial Mass in Dalkey for his family in 2014 he repeated his allegations to various people.
“Our client has also been informed by Gardaí in recent times that they were seeking to speak with Anthony Howard who had made it clear that he wanted some progress made on his allegations. Unfortunately, Anthony Howard has now died and our client does not know whether Gardaí are continuing to follow up on any of Mr Howard’s allegations.”
Mr Clifford’s article also summarised the cause of the fire as follows:
“The cause of the fire has always been regarded as accidental… The fire in March 1974 was regarded at the time as a tragic accident. Mr Howard was a newspaper vendor and one of the rooms of the house was understood to be full of newspapers. An oil heater in the house was believed to have been the source of the fire.”
The Howard family home at 8, Carysfort Avenue was a two-storey semi-detached house. On the ground floor were four rooms. There was a sitting room, at the front of the house, while the following three rooms were at the back of the house: a kitchen, a toilet and a separate bathroom.
The front room (sitting room) was separated from the other rooms by a hallway and, at one end of the hallway, was a short stairway. It also contained a three-piece PVC-covered suite which included a couch, upon which Louise slept. Continue reading →
From top: Front page of today’s Irish Examiner; Cynthia Owen and Paul McGrath
In January, Cynthia Owen used Facebook to name people she said were among a paedophile ring operating in Dalkey, Co. Dublin – who abused her – in the 1970s.
One of those named was former Garda, founder of the Garda Representative Association and co-founder of Dalkey United football club, Frank Mullen.
Cynthia gave birth to a baby girl, Noleen, in 1973 when she was just 11 years old. It is unknown who fathered the child.
In 2007, an inquest jury found Cynthia was the mother of Noleen who was stabbed with a knitting needle over 40 times just after the birth. Noleen’s body was left in a lane way in Dun Laoghaire.
Cynthia told the inquest that her daughter had been conceived following rape by a number of men and that she had been murdered by Cynthia’s mother Josie Murphy shortly after birth.
Following the inquest, the then Justice Minister Michael McDowell appointed Patrick Gageby SC to review the Garda investigation into the death of Noleen. Mr Gageby found there was no reason for any more action to be taken on the matter.
Further to this, today’s Irish Examiner has published an article by Michael Clifford in which Mr Mullen says all of the allegations against him are false. The article can be read in full here.
Cynthia Owen writes:
I note the article in today’s Irish Examiner which is essentially an interview with Frank Mullen, who has identified himself as somebody who has been a suspect in this case and whose name the Gardaí have not cleared.
It is not for me to address every point Mr Mullen makes in his interview but, by his own admission, he has not been cleared of his involvement in the abuse I suffered and the murder of my daughter as a result of that abuse.
The HSE found me to be very credible, likewise the psychologist hired by the Gardaí to assess my mental health.
And also a jury of six men and six women in the inquest that identified Noleen Murphy as my daughter, who was born to me when I was 11 years old and murdered by my mother to protect the men who were abusing me and who could be her father.
I stand by every allegation I have made regarding the abuse I suffered as a child. My murdered baby girl still lies in a mass grave in Glasnevin, despite my efforts to have her returned to me for a dignified burial, her murder remains unsolved.
I have been calling for a sworn public inquiry and now repeat that call as otherwise the truth will not come out.
‘Last year, Mr Mullen’s long tenure with Dalkey United came to an end. He had been one of the founder members of the club more than 50 years ago. Among the players he mentored and remained friends with was Irish football legend Paul McGrath.’
Paul McGrath has since tweeted:
@Justice4Noleen . If what Cynthia claims is true she needs to be loved , supported and needs to get justice for her and her babies
Ireland loves, or pretends to love, its literary heroes, so much so that we put quotations from Ulysses on little brass plaques and nail them to the pavements for tourists and Dubliners alike to tread on, give to a gunboat the name of that most peace-loving Irishman, Samuel Beckett, while Oscar Wilde is represented by a hideous statue indecently asprawl on a rock behind railings opposite his birthplace.
What the reaction would be of Flann O’Brien, Myles na Gopaleen, Cruiskeen Lawn (Irish for “the full glass”) or Brian O’Nolan – his real name, more or less – to the gushing lip-service we pay these days to our dead writers (he died 50 years ago on 1 April) can be easily guessed: a sardonic shrug, and a turning back to the bar to order another ball of malt.
Two of the camper-vans are permanently parked there because of parking restrictions or issues with their neighbours. One has been lived in for the past few weeks (not travellers) and the other was an overnight…Any suggestions that won’t affect parking for the rest of us…
“We all know about the Great Dalkey Land-Grab of 2008. But did your readers know that the practice of squatting and gold-digging in Dalkey has been going on for over a century?
Back in the day the Commons of Dalkey was common grazing land which spread over Dalkey Hill nearly to Bray. When stone quarrying started on Dalkey Hill (“the Long Rock”) in 1817 the workers from the quarries built makeshift places of residence on the commons.
Largely unnoticed at first, the Dalkey miners came to public prominence in 1834 when the daughter of one of them, Miss Etty Scott (a fine-looking girl by all accounts) made claim that a horde of Viking gold was buried under the hill.
Miss Scott’s assertion resulted in the establishment of a Dalkey Goldmining Society and much digging, which ended ignominiously with the only thing discovered in the hill a bag of angry cats left there by prankster Trinity College medical students*
There was a happy ending for the Dalkey miners however; a case around the same time involving squatters on Ballymore Eustace held that they were entitled to ownership of the land occupied by them for the past twenty or so years, and they sold their plots (on which most of the big houses of Dalkey were subsequently built) to building speculators for substantial sums of money.
Sadly, the fair Etty (described by ballad singers of the day as ‘Dalkey’s beautiful dreamer’) failed to benefit from the sale of her father’s plot, having died of consumption, or possibly chagrin not long after the failure of her abortive gold mining enterprise…”