Why Didn’t They Exhume?

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From top: Former Minister for Justices Alan Shatter and  Michael McDowell; Noleen’s grave in Glasnevin

Some 320 complaints of alleged Garda misconduct were investigated by an Independent Review Panel, set up by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

It’s understood that the panel has found that no further investigation should be carried out into 90% of these complaints.

The Justice4all Committee has now sent 13 sample cases to the United Nations Human Rights Commission to summon the next Justice Minister to “answer for the State’s failings”.

They include the case of Cynthia Owen.

In 2007, an inquest jury found Cynthia Owen, formerly Cindy Murphy of White’s Villas, Dalkey, to be the mother of an newborn girl, Noeleen Murphy, stabbed with a knitting needle over 40 times times in 1973 before being left in a lane way in Dun Laoghaire.

Cynthia was aged 11 at the time of Noeleen’s birth and death. She told the inquest that her daughter, conceived following rape by a number of men, had been murdered by Cynthia’s mother Josie Murphy shortly after birth.

At the inquest, evidence was given that a significant part of Dun Laoghaire Garda Station’s file on the case was missing, and that a statement by at least one member of the gardai had been forged.

Noleen was buried in the Holy Angels Plot, Glasnevin, in an identifiable grave (above) with a number of other babies.

Legal Coffee Drinker writes:

In 2006 then Minister for Justice Minister Michael McDowell refused the request of the Dublin City Coroner Keiran Geraghty that Noleen’s body be exhumed for DNA testing, saying he could not approve a course of conduct which “would cause such extensive distress and face such an uncertain outcome.”

Objections to the exhumation had been received from the trust which runs Glasnevin Cemetery. However there is no report of any objection having been received by Minister McDowell from the parent of any other baby in the Holy Angels Plot.

In the run up to the 2007 election, Alan Shatter, then a Dáil candidate in Dublin South, criticised the refusal to exhume, stating that DNA technology was so sophisticated that it might be appropriate.

Mr Shatter, a solicitor, had previously acted for Cynthia Owen. He was re-elected and appointed Minister for Justice in March 2011.

However no exhumation of Noleen’s body took place.

In 2014, Richard Boyd Barrett challenged Minister Shatter in the Dail on lack of action in relation to the death of Noeleen Murphy.

In his response, Minister Shatter described the case as “troubling and tragic but… there is not sufficient evidence to warrant the taking of a prosecution in the matter…should something now emerge as a result of the further inquiries that are being conducted, I will treat it with great care and seriousness.

Minister Shatter resigned as Minister for Justice later that year.

With the legal age of consent in 1972 being well over 11, Noleen’s conception must necessarily have been as a result of a statutory rape.

The identity of the perpetrator can be proved by exhumation of her body, which would provide sufficient evidence for taking a prosecution.

A number of Cynthia Owen’s alleged rapists – alleged to include at least two former gardai – are still alive. It is claimed that this contributed to the botching of the investigation conducted by Dun Laoghaire Garda Station into Noleen’s death.

As of today, it has been reported that Cynthia’s case is to be referred to the UN Human Rights Committee. Minister Shatter will be running for Fine Gael in Dublin-Rathdown in the forthcoming election.

Perhaps Broadsheet readers who come across him during his election campaign would like to ask him, in light of his 2007 comments, what steps he intends to take, if re-elected, to progress the exhumation of Noleen Murphy?

Anyone?

Previously : A Dalkey Archive

53 thoughts on “Why Didn’t They Exhume?

  1. Lordblessusandsaveus

    It’s Ireland. Nothing will happen. Don’t expect any true justice in this country.

    If you are wealthy and connected, you are safe from all prosecution unless you’re so obvious in your misdeeds that you’re an open embarrassment to your colleagues. In which case, you’ll get a light sentence which gets reduced after the public has forgotten.

    The laws are written by the people we seek to call to account.

    1. Lilly

      That’s simplistic. Members of the Garda can hardly be described as wealthy or connected. Plenty of them have ended up in the slammer. And look at how they treat their whistleblowers. So what’s so special about these Dalkey Garda-paedos that they’re beyond the reach of the law?

      1. The Lady Vanishes

        That’s like asking about Jimmy Savile: what’s so special about this DJ?

        There are guards and there are guards.

        Some guards are very well connected. Both within the rank and file of the gardai and through outside activities.

        In every profession, there are people who no one bothers and there are people who will get slated if they step out of line.

        1. Lilly

          Hang on a sec, people generally seem to have been in the dark about Jimmy Savile until after his death whereas the dogs in the street seem to be aware of the Dalkey Six and their dark deeds.

          1. Sibling of Daedalus

            Not at all, it had been widely rumoured in entertainment and media circles for many years that Jimmy Savile ‘liked little girls’ (the extent of the abuse, and the fact that it involved, for instance, children in hospitals, may not have been as widely known). Lynn Barber famously asked him about this in one published interview. There was also a radio interview with Johnny Lydon (Johnny Rotten) from the Sex Pistols from the early 1980s in which he said why did people let Jimmy Savile away with it. A recording of the interview is now up on you tube.

    2. Peter Dempsey

      Loads of “not wealthy” and “not connected” career criminals with multiple convictions getting light sentences too.

      But that’s okay because people like you will always make excuses for people like them.

    3. Deluded

      You can’t have a “there’s no smoke without fire” situation, Anne.
      The witnesses and how we treat them are important, but quite often they have been through a life of trauma before they can bring themselves to make sense of it all and speak up. It takes work to get those stories out.
      Witch hunts discredit that work.
      Slander undermines genuine efforts to get at the truth, for people who have no idea what’s going on, people like me, it just seems malicious and easily misdirected.
      (I didn’t like Saville but some of the people I did admire had murky lives. I don’t understand how I can now read contemporary accounts of victims yet so little is officially recorded).

    4. Deluded

      I repeat myself, but we had a case recently where a politician retired on foot of allegations.
      He said he hadn’t heard from the Gardaí before. If I said I saw him break a red light he would expect a call from the Gardaí, yet the victims’ stories were “not taken seriously”.

      Measured language, not tabloid snooping, will is what is needed. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day-care_sex-abuse_hysteria

    5. Deluded

      I’m labouring my point.
      Anybody with a bit of local power can cover stuff up. We need to get victims to speak before they have spent years in self-doubt and depression where the fog of time can be used against them.

  2. ollie

    Why did Shatter change his mind and not exhume a body that might have evidence to convict a rapist or rapists?

  3. Cynthia Owen

    Thank you Broadsheet for another fantastic piece of journalism, please visit my facebook page Sindy Theresa Murphy (my childhood name) and sign my petition thanks. Cynthia Owen

  4. Shayna

    Done! You’ve still another @500 signatures to reach your threshold of 5,000. I wish you well and hope you find peace when justice is served.

  5. Liam Deliverance

    Thanks Broadsheet, for running this story again and keeping it in people minds.

    Thanks to those who took the time to sign the petition.

    Petition is 400 signatures short of its 5000 target, please sign if you have not already, takes 30 seconds.

    Keep the faith Cynthia.

  6. Cynthia Owen

    Thank you all, I must point out that Shatter didnt charge me legal fees, he took my case for free and represented me for four years, all the while writing to the Minister for Justice, then he BECAME the Minister for Justice and turned his back on me.

    I am not the only person he has done this to.

    After he resigned we asked him to further support me, he never even replied.

        1. Lilly

          Which bit exactly are you taking as a reference to his religion, Judas? Either you have a truly tedious mind or you’ve been in the US too long.

          1. Kerri Ann

            Some strange editing has gone on here, so apologies for any duplication. But “Judas” has been used as an anti-semitic taunt for almost as long as Christianity has existed. Weren’t you aware of that when you used it about Shatter?

          2. Lilly

            That is nonsense KA; did you just pull it out of your bottom? The common usage of Judas is to call someone a traitor. If you have a source for your version, by all means share it with us.

    1. Lilly

      What if he was given Justice on condition that he drop the case? Makes you wonder just WHO was involved and how far their tentacles reached.

      1. The Lady Vanishes

        I doubt he was given Justice on condition that he drop the case.

        But many politicians champion causes to get known as a good guy in the public eye and to undermine opposing political parties and drop those causes when they get office.

        There were many things Shatter wanted to do as Minister for Justice which were far more important to him than Cynthia Owen

        And having the support of the gardai was crucial. It’s fairly obvious we are not talking about ordinary guards here. Some guards are very well connected

        1. Anne

          “But many politicians champion causes to get known as a good guy in the public eye and to undermine opposing political parties and drop those causes when they get office”

          Yeah… what a despicable little weasel Shatter is.

  7. Sibling of Daedalus

    The history of the Holy Angels Plot is interesting, not just in the context of Noeleen but also in relation to Tuam.

    My mother had a stillbirth in Holles St hospital in the 1970s. Very tragic, a lovely healthy baby girl – the umbilical cord got caught round her neck in labour and they didn’t get her out in time. The hospital insisted that the baby should be buried in the Holy Angels plot. When my mother objected, they tried to have her certified. My father and my mother’s family raised hell, and as often happens when you raise hell they caved in, and allowed her to have the baby buried with my grandfather in her family’s plot. But, in the petty way that bullies often do when you stand up to them, they imposed one caveat – she herself was never allowed to see the baby. Of course, burying stillbirths in communal graves in the Holy Angels plot meant that they couldn’t be exhumed out of ‘respect’ for parents of other babies – say, for medical negligence actions. Bullies are always worried about something. If the hospital would behave that way to a well educated, articulate worldly-wise woman in her thirties, a more vunerable woman, and one without family support, wouldn’t have had a hope…. unless she had had relatives in the medical profession, when it might have been a whole lot easier.

    This is only my own family’s experience, but there’s enough in that story to make me think the whole history of the Holy Angels Plot, and indeed Glasnevin Trust, might be an interesting one.

    1. Lilly

      That’s interesting indeed Subling, sorry for your family’s loss. The Glasnevin Trust could, and should, be compelled to acquiesce to this exhumation. Glasnevin cemetery is a huge tourist attraction. I wonder how the denizens of Tripadvisor would feel if they knew the cemetery Trustees were perverting the course of justice.

        1. Sibling of Daedalus

          It’s only a very mild example of what was going on in relation to babies, women etc. There are stories like this in every family. They may not involve doctors, nurses or hospital authorities. But they will be there, and they will involve some other form of Church, State or Church or State-sanctioned authority. Sometimes the stories never get told. But they are there all right. The arrogance of the people entrusted with power in this country was breathtaking. Some would say it remains so.

    2. Buzz

      Dr Freda Gorman, one of the Governors of the Glasnevin Trust, was also a Governor of Holles Street in 2000.

  8. Gaoithe

    Would all the little babies buried in that section of Holy Angels have to be disinterred and DNA tested to check which is Noeleen’s body, or are they sure exactly where in the plot she’s buried? Perhaps it would be good to put out a public request for contact from the parents of the other babies and see would they like to help?
    Terrible story, Sibling. What a vile thing to do, to stop the mother seeing her dead child out of petty power-playing revenge.

  9. Bill Maher

    Shame on Shatter for doing nothing with this case when he became Minister for Justice. He already had all the information he needed to proceed with an investigation. Who or what changed his mind ? Fitzgerald has also fudged around this and many other cases.
    Please sign the Petition.

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