You may recall a post from last week in relation to barrister Dominic McGinn, SC, who is reviewing how members of the Garda Serious Crime Unit investigated the 1985 murder of Fr Niall Molloy in a house near Clara, Co. Offaly.
The post dealt with questions put to Justice Minister Alan Shatter in the Dáil, in relation to journalist Gemma O’Doherty, whose investigative work led to the case being reopened by the Garda Serious Crime Unit in 2012.
Minister Shatter was asked if Mr McGinn will interview Ms O’Doherty as part of his investigation. Minister Shatter said he wouldn’t.
Ms O’Doherty wrote in the Irish Daily Mail yesterday how the terms of reference for Mr McGinn’s investigation preclude him from reinterviewing witnesses, including a man named Gerry North – who claims an eye witness to the murder told him a series of revelations about the killing.
In yesterday’s report [not online], Ms O’Doherty wrote:
[Mr North] and many others close to the case, believe the eyewitness was silenced by certain officers in the weeks after the murder. Mr North gave evidence to the gardaí that the eyewitness told him ‘a large number of people’ were present at the murder including a Fianna Fáil politician who was a household name, and a man from Kilkenny.
Mr North also alleges that the eyewitness said Fr Molloy was beaten up downstairs but that his body was carried upstairs and left in the Flynn’s marital bedroom to give the appearance of a sex scandal. The identity of blood found on the bannisters of the stairs in the country manor has never been revealed by gardaí.
Mr North was also told that Richard Flynn, who stood trial and was acquitted for the manslaughter of the priest, was not the killer.
He said the eyewitness told him that when he was interviewed by gardaí in 1985, he said they were more nervous than he was in case he would ‘say the wrong thing, which would be the truth’.
[Gemma O'Doherty's investigation into the death of Fr Niall Molloy for the Irish Independent in 2010]
In December last year, Justice Minister Alan Shatter appointed barrister Dominic McGinn, SC, to examine how gardaí in the Garda Serious Crime Unit investigated the 1985 murder of Fr Niall Molloy in a house near Clara, Co. Offaly.
The Garda Serious Crime Review Team’s investigation – led by Detective Inspector Christy Mangan – was launched due to the work carried out by former Irish Independent journalist Gemma O’Doherty.
Following the Garda Serious Crime Review, the DPP determined in August last year that no further prosecutions should be made.
On Tuesday, Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams asked Minister Shatter if Gemma O’Doherty will be interviewed by Mr McGinn in relation to his report.
Minister Shatter, in a roundabout way, said no.
As I have previously informed the House, Mr. Dominic McGinn, Senior Counsel, is at present carrying out an independent examination of the report of the Serious Crime Review Team relating to the Garda investigation into the death of Fr. Niall Molloy.
This independent examination will, in accordance with the terms of reference, comprise two main elements— 1. Counsel will examine what is a very detailed report that, for legal reasons, cannot be put into the public domain in its current form, and will prepare a report which can be put into the public domain on any issues of public interest which may arise from the report, and 2. Counsel will identify matters, if any, of significant public interest or concern that would warrant examination by a further inquiry and in respect of which such further inquiry would have a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth.
Accordingly, Mr. McGinn’s terms of reference involve an examination of the Garda Serious Crime Review Team’s report and not a new investigation or evidence gathering exercise. The Serious Crime Team report deals comprehensively with the issues of concern raised by the family and others as requiring further inquiry, including arising from detailed statements made to the Team by a representative of the family and the journalist referred to.
Mr. McGinn will be aware of these issues from his examination of the report and associated statements. A liaison officer has been appointed by An Garda Síochána to assist with any requests for clarification.
As I have previously stated, my priority is to allow the Senior Counsel to carry out the examination so that the maximum amount of information can be put into the public domain at the earliest possible date, at which point I will also of course fully consider the outcome of the examination concerning any further inquiry. While Mr. McGinn’s terms of reference require that he complete this examination as soon as possible, it is not possible to provide a precise timescale in this regard. I expect, however, that his work is well advanced at this point.
[Gemma O'Doherty's investigation into the death of Fr Niall Molloy for the irish Independent in 2010]
The Case of Cynthia Owen, the murder of Fr Niall Molloy and the treatment of of journalist Gemma O’Doherty made it to the floor of the Dail during the Alan Shatter Confidence debate yesterday. to wit
Joe Higgins: “I want the Minister or senior gardaí to answer why during a two year audit of An Garda Síochána by the Data Protection Commissioner, which produced a 95-page report only a few weeks ago about data protection issues, there is not a single mention of a phone call, a taped phone call or anything relating to that. I want the Garda to explain who held off the truth from whom. I want the Data Protection Commissioner to make a statement on this incredible circumstance.”
It is time for a commission of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death, and the investigation of the death or murder, of the Reverend Niall Molloy as pursued relentlessly by the journalist Gemma O’Doherty. It is one of the longest running miscarriages of justice cases in the history of the State. The Government must move on this.”
Richard Boyd Barrett: “We cannot have confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality. His appalling behaviour in dealing with the penalty points scandal, the whistleblowers, the bugging scandal in GSOC and now the taping controversy has been well rehearsed here, so I will not go through it. All of those things have brought the administration of justice and policing in the State into disrepute. That is why he has to go. There are a couple of other people who deserve to be mentioned in the short time I have. Irish Independent journalist, Gemma O’Doherty, was sacked for door-stepping Commissioner Callinan over the issue of penalty points that he may have had quashed last year, by the editor-in-chief of Independent Newspapers who was a former editor of the Garda Review. It is alleged in newspaper reports that he had his penalty points quashed. This is the sort of State we live in.
“I would gain some return of confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality if we put all of that aside and going forward he looked interested in bringing justice to people who have been denied it. Three times in the last two weeks I have asked about the appalling case of Cynthia Owen, a child who was ritually raped and made pregnant at the age of ten. Her baby was murdered and she alleges that gardaí were involved in that abuse. The case was closed down after six weeks and nobody was ever brought to trial over it.
“There was a sham investigation years later when the victim of this heinous crime was not even interviewed. The person who carried out that investigation had said publicly a few weeks before that cases of abuse like this should not be investigated at all. Ms Owen has asked the Minister, Deputy Shatter, through her solicitor, for a meeting. She is seeking a commission to investigate this heinous crime, yet the Minister still says “No”. How can one have confidence with issues like that?”
[Gemma O'Doherty and a demonstration following her sacking outside INM on Talbot Street, Dublin last year]
“Today’s resignation of Ireland’s police chief, Martin Callinan, is a vindication of the reporting of Gemma O’Doherty, a journalist fired by the Irish Independent for her pursuit of the story that has led to his departure.
As I reported in September last year, O’Doherty was made compulsorily redundant by the paper after door-stepping Callinan, the Garda commissioner.
She was following up a tip that penalty points had been wiped from Callinan’s driving record. It came against the background of allegations by police whistleblowers that hundreds of people had also had penalty points removed from their licences.”
[Robert Olson of the Garda Inspectorate and, above, a screengrab from yesterday's report]
When a motorist breaks the law and a Fixed Charge Notice (FCN) is issued, the offender has 28 days to pay the fine.
Failure to do so results in a 50% increase in the fine with another 28 days to pay it. If, after 56 days the offender still hasn’t paid, a summons to attend court is issued to the offender by a member of the Gardaí.
If the summons isn’t served, no fine is paid and no penalty points are incurred.
Yesterday’s Garda Inspectorate report looked at the issue of summonses not being served.
“In reviewing the level of non-payment of FCNs for 2011 and 2012, the C&AG found that approximately 238,000 fines were unpaid. Of these an estimated 56,000 FCNs were cancelled petition requests, company summonses and statute barred offences. Of the remaining unpaid FCNs, approximately 178,500 summonses were issued in 2011 and 2012. Of these summonses, 85,000 (48%) were served and 93,500 (52%) went unserved.
“As outlined in Table 2.2 [above], the Inspectorate, using C&AG figures, conservatively estimates the potential Exchequer revenue loss from the non-payment of the FCNs resulting in unserved summonses to be a minimum of €7.4 million.”
Following on from this, the Garda Inspectorate recommended:
“A review of the summons serving process be undertaken by the Garda Síochána to ascertain the reasons for the significant level of unserved summonses and to make recommendations to provide a more effective summons serving process.”
While the penalty point controversy has overshadowed the issue of summonses not being served, incidences in relation to this matter were investigated and highlighted by former Irish independent journalist Gemma O’Doherty, over the last year.
May 9, 2013: Ms O’Doherty, in the Irish Independent, reported that summonses for three different motoring offences were not served on Fianna Fáil’s Robert Tory, by gardaí. The three summonses related to alleged speeding in August 2011 and March 2012 and for parking on a footpath in June 2011.
May 10, 2013: Fianna Fail TD Robert Troy issued a statement in relation to the summonses that weren’t served, saying: “The Minister for Justice is currently awaiting a report from the Garda Commissioner into issues concerning the application of penalty points. I welcome this process and look forward to the publication of the report. I currently have six points on my licence and if the gardaí believe that there any further outstanding cases then I will of course co-operate fully in this regard.”
October 17, 2013: Phoenix magazine reported that the State Solicitor for Westmeath Peter Jones avoided incurring 8 penalty points to his driver’s licence because points were either terminated, court summonses were not served or, on one occasion, a case was struck out.
The points related to four separate times Mr Jones was allegedly caught speeding between 2011 and 2012. The magazine reported that Gemma O’Doherty was planning to write an article about Mr Jones and the non-serving of summonses and had put questions to Mr Jones in May 2013, at the time she was sacked.
January 23, 2014: At a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee, Waterford Fine Gael TD John Deasy asked Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan: “Has the Commissioner come across any evidence of deliberate non-serving of summonses by gardaí?” Mr Callinan replied: “No”.
Mr Deasy also asked Commissioner Callinan: “Has the Commissioner taken disciplinary action against any garda with regard to the non-serving of summonses? Again, Mr Callinan replied: “No.”
Mr Deasy then asked the Commissioner: “Has the Commissioner ever detected multiple non-serving of summonses by a particular garda?”. Mr Callinan replied: “To be fair, no. It is a volume issue. It is a difficult area for us and we accept it is a difficult area for us but we are working to try to reduce the level.”
Read the Garda Inspectorate report in full here.
(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)
[Conor Brady, former member of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) and former editor of the Irish Times]
Mr Brady spoke to Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One last Friday in relation to the controversies surrounding the gardaí of late, but specifically about Sgt Maurice McCabe, Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan following Minister’s Shatter speech in the Dáil last Wednesday.
Conor Brady: “I think by and large the minister did well (in the Dáil) but I think, as you say, it’s, it’s, we have a kind of a Garda-free zone for a few days and it’s possibly time to stand back and take a look at where we are.”
Seán O’Rourke: “And, in regard to the way he outlined in very great detail, the complaint came in, it was, you know, it went initially to GSOC, there was a letter to the minister, certainly the file moved.”
Brady: “The file moved and he followed it through at every stage but, you know, very often in these statements and in these trails, investigations have to be evidence-led and evidence has got to be recorded and logged and very often what isn’t said and what isn’t detailed can be just as important as what is logged and what is said. I take a little, I differ from the minister in one point he made and I think it’s a significant point of emphasis. He talked about Sgt McCabe’s complaints about Garda activities in the, complaining about the conduct of policing in the Cavan area, in the Baileboro area where he was, where he was based as sergeant. And the minister stated quite rightly that GSOC did not appear, did not take any further action on the complaints of Sgt McCabe. Now what the minister said is GSOC did not appear to have felt it necessary to take any further action. And I don’t think that’s really telling the full story. It would be more accurate to say that GSOC felt it was not possible to take any further action.”
O’Rourke: “Why would that have been?”
Brady: “Well, because when the complaints came in, for example, we set down a number, we opened a public interest investigation. A number of very senior experienced officers from GSOC, former police detectives from outside of the State, along with one or two former gardaí themselves, working with GSOC, went to interview the witnesses in some of the cases that Sgt McCabe had complained about. And while the witnesses were quite willing to tell them what happened in some of these allegations of malpractice and neglect of duty, when it came to making statements they weren’t going to do that. So our officers had to go back to us and say ‘look you know, this woman has told us what happened, she’s quite prepared that we should know, but she’s not going to make a statement’.”
O’Rourke: “Are you talking about people who would have complained to the gardaí and that, in those instances, not enough had been done but in other words the complainant…”
Brady: “Some of the cases that Maurice McCabe was talking about, where he alleged neglect of duty by fellow gardaí, where he had alleged that guards were not doing the job that they were paid to do, the way they were doing it. And the, as I say, the, any investigation…”
O’Rourke: “So we’re talking about civilians not being willing to give the statements that were…”
Brady: “And indeed other gardaí not being willing to confirm details of complaints.”
O’Rourke: “And, so in that situation, were GSOC’s powers limited then? Were, is there no obligation on guards to provide information and to answer questions put forward and to cooperate with GSOC itself?”
Brady: “There are requirements that they should but it’s not, it’s not always easy to get the evidence of that either. All I’m saying is that the complaints made by Maurice McCabe, I think the minister has shown, yes, that there was a response by the bureaucracy, a response by the Garda authorities, a response by GSOC, a response by the Department of Justice but that doesn’t mean that Sgt McCabe’s complaints are not founded. What I’m saying is that rather than having it said that we didn’t find it necessary to go any further, my recollection of it is that we simply came up against a blank wall: evidence wasn’t there, people weren’t prepared to talk about things and in that situation you can’t take an investigation further.”
O’Rourke: “And there were some instances I think where GSOC itself recommended that disciplinary action be taken but the Commissioner, using his powers or his discretion chose not to – what did you think of that?”
Brady: “Well that again that is a further flaw I would suggest in the legislation and it is not mirrored in the legislation. For example, in Northern Ireland, if, if the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman recommends disciplinary action be taken against a member of the PSNI then the Chief Constable doesn’t have an option in that and the same in England and Wales. If we stand back from all this, I think what we’re seeing here is a series of fissures, cracks, flaws, very deep flaws in the 2005 legislation. There are, we’ve seen, that effectively, the relationship between GSOC and the Garda Síochána is unsustainable, it’s bedevilled by mistrust. The whistleblower system has broken down and other flaws such as the one you now have just shown us, the legislation is really, it has failed to pass its first tests.”
O’Rourke: “Well that’s something that’s going to be the subject of amending legislation in the aftermath presumably of the two reports that are being worked on at the moment. But, going back to the exchanges in the Dáil, what about the insights fresh or otherwise that were given into the Commissioner’s behaviour, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. He insisted that he had directed Sgt Maurice McCabe to cooperate with the investigation on the penalty points controversy. McCabe insisted that that was not so. Alan Shatter seemed to accept that there was two sides to that story.”
Brady: “He did, he accepted that there were two sides to the story and it looks, it again I think the system can cover itself. But, at the same time, Sgt McCabe can also argue that he wasn’t in fact directed to cooperate with the inquiry and I can see many reasons why he would have been very nervous about cooperating with the inquiry.”
O’Rourke: “Yes, he was invited to, he said ‘look if you’ve got any more stuff, right stop printing the stuff off on PULSE and go to John O’Mahoney’, or that’s the place to go if you’ve any further concerns.”
Brady: “Yes, that really isn’t the way. If the guards really want to talk to somebody about something, you know, that isn’t the way they usually go about it. They send two fellas out in a car and they can find you. And you can in fact. If the guards feel that in order to get to the truth of something, that they want to talk to some individual, they’ll find a way of doing it.”
O’Rourke: “And I think Assistant Commissioner O’Mahoney’s explanation to the PAC, the Public Accounts Committee earlier on was that, look, you know we didn’t go after him, we didn’t look to interview him on the basis he was dealing with anonymous complaints?”
Brady: “I’ve no direct knowledge of what Assistant Commissioner O’Mahoney put to him but what I’m saying is that I think if the inquiry really wanted to get him into it and to have him as a source, I feel that a more assertive approach would have been possible and would have been the norm for gardaí. As I say, if they want to talk to you about something else, they know pretty well how to, how to find you and where to find you. ”
Brady: “There’s a very long tradition in the Garda Síochána, as in probably other institutions of the State aswell, there is a long tradition of whistleblowers or complainants actually being punished and rarely having any, in fact, never to my knowledge, having any acknowledgement – for none of them has it represented career advancement or an enhancement their circumstances. If you go back even to the fingerprint scandal in the technical bureau in the 1970s which undermined the reliability of the entire fingerprint system. I could have resulted in chaos in the courts. And the two detectives who brought it to public attention were penalised whereas the people who had been responsible for the errors, and the flaws in the system, one of them was promoted. So the history, the history isn’t good there. You have a long tradition there of people who get, who suffer for putting their head above the parapet and I think Fintan O’Toole, I thought made a rather good point, had a good way of putting it in the Irish Times yesterday: it wasn’t just, this isn’t just the guards we’re talking about here, it is the institutional response of the State. So many of the State’s institutions that if there is criticism, or if there is, if there are questions raised there is almost an automatic reaction on the part of the establishment that such criticisms are coming from people who are either malign or misguided and therefore they have to be rubbished.”
O’Rourke: “And are suspect.”
Brady: “And are suspect.”
O’Rourke: “But do you look at it though from the point of view of Martin Callinan, working up there in Garda headquarters, he gets reports of these two gentlemen, [former Garda John] Wilson and McCabe off from PULSE which is breach of security, a breach of all sorts of regulations and legislation which I couldn’t identify but let’s take that as a, as the situation, what is he to do? I mean other than to tell them to stop.”
Brady: “Of course, yes, I agree but there have been many, many, many many abuses of PULSE which we encountered when we were, when I was in the Ombudsman Commission. Many abuses, cases of guards accessing the system, for nefarious purposes, using the information on it for nefarious purposes. In one case I recall accessing PULSE to retrieve information to blacken the reputation of a young man who’d been killed in a road accident, where he had been run over by a car driven by guards.”
Meanwhile, you may recall Independent TD Mick Wallace’s references to sacked Irish Independent journalist Gemma O’Doherty and the unsolved Fr Niall Molloy case when he responded to Minister Shatter last Wednesday.
Well, there were other TDs who mentioned the same matter, namely Independent TD Finian McGrath, United Left Alliance TD, Clare Daly, Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins, People Before Profit TD Joan Collins and Sinn Féin TD Padraig MacLochlainn.
Deputy Finian McGrath: I thank the Ceann Comhairle for the opportunity to speak in this urgent debate regarding allegations relating to An Garda Síochána, the role of the Minister for Justice and Equality and the GSOC issue. The Minister still does not get it. Sergeant McCabe’s name was dragged through the mud; John Wilson, another whistleblower, was forced to leave his job; Deputy Clare Daly was handcuffed and arrested and the entire issue leaked to the national media; Deputy Wallace was spied on and his details leaked on “Prime Time”; Oliver Connolly was dismissed; and the well-known journalist Gemma O’Doherty played a huge price for challenging the quashing of the Commissioner’s penalty points. These are huge issues and there are many more out there that should and will be dealt with and will come out in the future. Does he now get it? Does he accept responsibility as part of his brief as Minister for Justice? Another significant issue is the case of Fr. Niall Molloy. Ten National Bureau of Criminal Investigation detectives were assigned to investigate the murder of Fr. Molloy. Most of the evidence was based on the great work and research done by Gemma O’Doherty yet she was not even interviewed once even though her investigation led to the re-opening of the cold case. I have also raised this issue many times in the Dáil. Does the Minister get that? Does he understand the significance of it? Does he grasp the reality that many people are losing trust and confidence in the leadership and management of the gardaí? That leadership starts with the Minister. When it comes down to it, I ask myself who do I believe. Who do I trust? I know clearly that I trust John Wilson and Sergeant Maurice McCabe because I want a Garda service that serves the people in a fair and impartial manner. I honestly hope that after all this mess and after the entire truth comes out, we will have a Garda Síochána that serves all citizens fairly and professionally. In the meantime, I want an independent commission of inquiry as I believe it is the only way to get to the truth and to get justice for all the victims of these particular incidents. We need to see that public confidence is maintained in the Garda Síochána.
Deputy Joe Higgins: Sections of the media have acted as a journalistic Praetorian guard for the Garda Commissioner and management undermining the complaints of legitimate whistleblowers. That is extremely consistent with the previous acts of Independent Newspapers which sacked journalist Gemma Doherty for having the audacity to question why the Garda Commissioner himself was forgiven penalty points. It is not just the Garda who need democratic supervision, but the billionaire-owned media also needs to be subjected to the democratic control of ordinary citizens to see if it could tell the truth and really represent the interests of ordinary people for a change.
Deputy Clare Daly: We know that in 2012, ten gardaí were appointed to investigate the tragic case of Fr. Niall Molloy on foot of new information from Gemma O’Doherty. Guess what they found? Nothing. They found no evidence and no prosecutions were brought. I might add that no one spoke to Gemma O’Doherty either. Those involved in internal investigations are obviously fond of not interviewing the person who brings new information to light. I could also mention our own cases. People the length and breadth of this country contacted us on foot of the work we did originally. In October of last year, we went to the Department of Justice and Equality with almost 30 citizens who wished to hand in details of tragic cases of Garda malpractice that resulted in citizens of this State failing to achieve justice. We did not know if all of those allegations were true, but we knew that the people in question sincerely believed them to be true. The citizens who wanted to hand in their details, who had an average age of approximately 60, and four Deputies from this House were locked out of the Department of Justice and Equality. We had to negotiate on the telephone to get the door open. There is a problem of culture here.
Deputy Joan Collins: I do not know where the Taoiseach has been for the past period of time but even GSOC has said that it does not have the powers that are needed to investigate independently matters. There has been and will continue to be a culture regarding this issue unless fundamental legislation is introduced to separate the powers of the State and the powers of a body doing its job. We have seen the Fr. Niall Molloy cover up. The journalist who re-investigated it, Gemma O’Doherty, was never even asked to go to that investigation. This is another situation where the person involved has not been brought into an investigative process. Will the Taoiseach establish an independent police authority? This is what is needed. Will such an authority appoint the Garda Commissioner and will the Commissioner be accountable to the authority? These fundamental questions were included in the legislation brought forward by Deputy Wallace last year and need to be addressed. This subject should be discussed.
Deputy Padraig MacLochlainn:When An Garda Síochána was dealing with the cold case review of the Fr. Niall Molloy case, the journalist, Gemma O’Doherty, whose immense work almost definitely led to that review, was not questioned by the team doing that cold case review. We have a culture where people who have made allegations, done the work and put their concerns about important matters of public interest in the public domain, or by whatever channel is necessary, are not even interviewed. It is indefensible. It is nonsense. The Minister should have apologised today on the record.”
Independent TD Mick Wallace addressing Justice Minister Alan Shatter earlier today.
Mick Wallace: “Fine Gael used to pride itself as the party of law and order. How, in god’s name, can they still stand over that. You avoid using strong legislation, in order not to seek out the truth, not to reveal it. You don’t ask, you wouldn’t ask the [Garda] Commissioner [Martin Callinan] if he actually engaged in lawful surveillance, in case you might be told something that you had to stand over, you didn’t want the answer. You wouldn’t ask G2 the same question. You wouldn’t even ask him what did it do to check to see if there’s any rogue elements in their organisations that may have engaged in unlawful surveillance. You didn’t want the answers, minister. GSOC begged for the PULSE system, after the Boylan report and annual report, you refused to give it to them, you refused to give it to them in September. You gave it to them a few weeks ago under political pressure. You wouldn’t allow GSOC look at penalty points, but you allowed [section of Garda Síochána Act] 102 but not [section] 106 [which would have allowed GSOC to investigate practices, policies and procedures] of course, under political pressure. Minister, your prime motives are political survival, your prime motives have very little to do with the administration of justice, I’m sad to say. Now, there’s so many things that have gone on in this State, for a long time, that leave so much to be desired. And minister, it was happening long before your time but I am disappointed they is still no appetite for the truth.
Gemma O’Doherty lost her job in the [Irish] Independent because she had the audacity to challenge the Commissioner, the audacity. We got an email this morning, from a nephew of Fr Molloy’s, someone that Gemma O’Doherty has done a lot of research on. Here’s what he said in it. You mightn’t want to hear it, minister. He said: ‘For almost 30 year, people have hidden behind a wall of silence, deceit, corruption and cover-up. Time for the light of justice to shine on them and reveal them to the people for what they are. Many, many people have gone to their graves overshadowed by this heartache. Minister, if you are going to stay in power and the Commissioner is going to stay in place than I think this parliament is a sham. The people are right to be cynical about politics, they’re right to be cynical about politicians. This place is a joke. We play games in here. Well, you know what? Sometimes these games lead to the unfair distribution of justice or no justice being distributed. Sometimes these games lead to people losing their lives, they lead to murders, they lead to the families not getting any justice. And what do we see so often? When bad things raise their head? We see our police force circle the wagons. We see our politicians circle the wagons. Do what it takes to cover up what we don’t want to see. Do what it takes to hide the truth. Is there any appetite for doing things any different in this house? Minister, you look up here at us and you say ‘how dare those people with their long hair and raggy jeans have the audacity’ to challenge you. Well I want to tell you something. The people of Wexford that elected me to come in here, didn’t elect me to come in here and approve of your behaviour. They put me in here to challenge it. It’s time for you to go, minister. And bring the Commissioner with you.
During the second stage debate of the Thirty-fourth Amendment to the Constitution (Judicial Appointments) Bill 2013 in the Dáil last Friday, Independent TD Mick Wallace spoke about unsolved murder of Fr Niall Molloy in 1986.
It follows last December’s appointment by Justice Minister Alan Shatter of Mr Dominic McGinn, Senior Counsel, to carry out an independent examination of the Report of the Garda Serious Crime Review Team relating to the death of Fr Molloy.
From around 1.50 on the video, above, Mr Wallace said:
A final example of what can go wrong when judicial appointments are political and when judges are too close to political parties is the case of Fr. Niall Molloy’s murder. Mr. Justice Frank Roe was appointed President of the Circuit Court just before Richard Flynn was tried for the manslaughter of Fr. Niall Molloy in 1986.
Judge Roe was a personal friend of Richard Flynn, the defendant. Despite this fact, he first decided to assign the case to himself, in an extreme abuse of the power that came with his role as President. He then withdrew the case from the jury after three and a half hours, without letting it consider any of the evidence and directed it to acquit. One eye witness reported that the then deputy leader of Fianna Fáil, Brian Lenihan Snr., was in the room which was the scene of the murder.
Although I welcome the eventual appointment of Dominic McGinn, senior counsel, to review the Garda investigation into the Fr. Niall Molloy murder and hope the facts and background to the case, to include its strongly political background, can finally be ascertained and that the family of Fr. Niall Molloy may gain some justice and peace, it is yet again a shame that this decision to review has only come after a delay of almost 30 years.
If the Minister, Deputy Alan Shatter, would only decide matters based on his ministerial responsibilities to justice rather than on political motivations and his own political survival, we might see more decisions based on transparency and accountability and fewer underhand tactics employed such as delay and confusion, dismissal of allegations, discrediting of real victims such as whistleblowers and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC, and misrepresentation of law and fact. These tactics never work on a permanent basis, as the Minister is now discovering to his peril. The truth generally comes out.