From top: Bill Kenneally; Irish Times Weekend cover from last Saturday; victim Paul Walsh, human rights lawyer Darragh Mackin, victim Colin Power and victim Jason Clancy
You may recall how the victims of paedophile Bill Kenneally – an accountant from a well-known Fianna Fáil family and basketball coach in Waterford – want a Commission of Investigation.
They believe senior gardai, members of Fianna Fáil, members of the Catholic Church and staff at the South Eastern Health Board failed to act when told about the abuse.
Kenneally was convicted earlier this year, after victim Jason Clancy came forward in 2012, but Gardaí knew about the abuse as far back as 1985.
Further to this…
Saoirse McGarrigle writes:
Last Saturday, The Irish Times published an article by Peter McGuire in which Mr McGuire asked sex abuse victims, abusers and therapists ‘is there a better way to tackle’ the issue of sex abuse in Ireland.
While journalists are not allowed to speak directly with prisoners in Ireland, Bill Kenneally – who was jailed for 14 years in February of this year – was interviewed through an intermediary.
He pleaded guilty to ten sample counts of indecent assault on ten boys between October 31, 1984 and December 31, 1987.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly handed down a 17-month sentence for each of the charges – prompting his victim’s to describe the sentence as “poetic justice” as, they say, he had a fixation with the number seven.
He would give them amounts of money that always ended in seven – £7, £17 or £27.
The Waterford accountant and basketball coach is now appealing the severity of his sentence.
The article in The Irish Times quoted an intermediary saying of Kenneally, “He grew up with a highly critical father he could never please and lacks any self-esteem.”
Colin Power (45) was abused by Kenneally for three years.
He said: “This is no excuse for abusing children, absolutely no excuse. Everybody has had difficulties in their lives, but nobody can use that as an excuse to abuse children. It’s an easy way out to blame his father. It’s a cop out as far as I am concerned. He caused devastation to all our lives and the lives of our families and friends. What he did will stay with all of us forever. He knew exactly what he was doing.”
The intermediary also says that Kenneally claims he did not abuse after 1987 and that “Bill knows he is a pariah, and he hates himself for what he has done.”
But Colin said: “If he was so remorseful and concerned about the children he abused and the impact on the abused he wouldn’t have waited 30 years until the guards came to him. He is sorry only because he was found out. All this is only a way of helping his appeal. And if he really was genuinely remorseful he would be honest about the amount of boys he abused.”
Since the court case, a number of men have approached the five victims who waived their anonymity; Jason Clancy, Paul Walsh, Barry Murphy, Kevin Keating and Colin Power, and revealed to them that they also were abused.
“He said ten victims and that he stopped after 1987, I can say categorically with absolute certainty that he abused far more than ten boys.”
The father-of-four continued: “I was in SuperValu last night and I met a fella in there and he said ‘you know, I think you’re great’. He told me that he was abused as well and it had an awful impact on his life. He had problems with gambling and drinking. He said to me that this had pushed him to go and sort it out.”
He added: “When we were driving to Dublin to meet MEP Lynn Boylan recently to discuss the case we stopped at an Applegreen on the way and I saw a guy there who was abused as well. You can’t just walk in town without seeing a number of people who have been abused. It’s everywhere – a whole generation of men in Waterford who have been abused.”
Colin continued: “I was just talking to a fella last night. He was also abused, but doesn’t know whether to come forward or not. He has low self-esteem because he hasn’t come forward. He feels like he has to but doesn’t know if he can. And I get that. Looking back at myself this time last year, I don’t know how I would have coped if I didn’t have Jason and the other lads. I wouldn’t have coped without them. Biggest thing for me was meeting up with the lads and talking about it. Feeling that you’re not normal.”
“It’s been an extremely hard thing to do. But I am glad that I have done it. I think before I thought that I was living normally. But I wasn’t. It was an abnormal life. It’s only through getting help that you can work it all out.”
Kenneally also claims that he stopped coaching basketball in 1987 and kept a “low-profile” to evade prosecution for the crimes committed before 1987.
Colin said: “He says that he stopped coaching basketball in 1987, but in 2013 he was definitely still involved in a basketball club. He was even on the committee. He still had access to young people. Sure it was the reason that Jason went to the guards in the first place in November 2012.”
The garda investigation which led to his conviction this year was triggered when father-of-four and local businessman Jason Clancy made a complaint to Waterford Garda Station in November 2012.
While the Book of Evidence states that the 46-year-old was compelled to come forward on foot of the Jimmy Saville case, he says that he told gardaí he did so because he was “extremely distressed” when he realised that his abuser was “still active in a basketball club, which had a predominantly young male membership.”
Kenneally told the intermediary that he “wishes gardaí had done so (prosecuted him) in the 1980s”.
His victims believe this is “more than just a bit ironic”.
Seven men are now pushing for a Commission of Investigation into who knew about the abuse and “turned a blind eye”.
They say that senior gardaí, members of Fianna Fáil, the South Eastern Health Board and the Catholic Church all knew that Kenneally was abusing boys but failed to stop him.
In 1987, he admitted to gardaí that he was handcuffing, blind-folding and sexually abusing boys, but he was let walk free.
Victims say that two boys were getting counselling from a health board psychiatrist for abuse they had suffered, while Kenneally was continuing to abuse others.
Bill Kenneally’s uncle Billy Kenneally, who was a serving Fianna Fáil TD at the time, was the first person superintendent Sean Cashman contacted when a local businessman made a complaint alleging that his son had been abused by Kenneally. He called the politician before he contacted the accused for questioning.
“What we’re looking for is all of this to be investigated and now ironically we have the man at the heart of it all, the abuser who was protected, saying that he even wishes he’d been prosecuted in the 1980s. Basically he wishes that he hadn’t been allowed to walk free for 30 years…so in effect he’s ironically supporting what we’re calling for,” said another victim Paul Walsh (45).
Human rights lawyer Darragh Mackin last month wrote to the Minister for Justice calling for a Commission of Investigation.
He confirmed this week that he has now received correspondence stating that the Minister has “sought the views of the Garda Commissioner on the issues raised.”
The letter also advises the victims that they can refer the matter to GSOC if they wish to “make a complaint concerning Garda actions”.
Mr Mackin said: “We welcome the Minister’s confirmation, that immediate action has been taken.”
He added: “It is however clear that this is only an initial scoping exercise, in the grand scheme of what is required to effectively investigate the systemic issues. We will continue to liaise with the Minister’s Office to ensure that the Gardai, given their involvement, play no part in the investigation given the need for independence to comply with International law.”
Paul Walsh added that he is “anxious” that any investigation that takes place is “entirely independent”.
“The gardaí cannot investigate themselves that just wouldn’t work. We wouldn’t accept that. But also it has to be understood that it’s not just the gardaí that we want to be looked at, the health board knew what was happening to us, so did people in Fianna Fáil and the Catholic Church.”
The victims are set to meet with leader of Fianna Fáil Micháel Martin this Monday to discuss their campaign.
Waterford TD Mary Butler has refused to respond when contacted.
This week John McGuinness, from Kilkenny, became the first Fianna Fáil deputy to pledge his support to their campaign.
“John McGuinness seems very supportive and I hope other in Fianna Fáil will follow suit. This is not political. It’s just a case of letting the truth about what happened to us come out. I met with John this week and he said ‘it’s not just about ye, it’s the ripple effect that it’s had on our families’ and he’s right there it’s had a devastating effect on everybody. My mother asks me all of the time am I ok,” said Colin.
Previously: Protected For 30 Years