From top: Cynthia Owen; Journalist Michael Clifford; Frank and Ellen Mullen
Frank Mullen, alongside his wife Ellen, has given journalist Michael Clifford two interviews in the past fortnight – with the Irish Examiner and Newstalk radio – to “clear his name” in the so-called Dalkey House of Horrors case.
A complete transcript of the Newstalk interview is below this article and the couple’s interview in the Irish Examiner can be read here.
Broadsheet readers may be familiar with this case through the efforts of Cynthia Owen (formerly Sindy Murphy), whose story featured on our post ‘A Dalkey Archive’.
Mrs Owen was found by an inquest jury in 2007 to be the mother of an infant (subsequently named as Noleen Murphy) stabbed to death and left in a doorway in Lee’s Lane, Dun Laoghaire in April 1973. Cynthia Owen was 11 years old at the time.
Mrs Owen has stated that Noleen was born in her parents’ house at 4 White’s Villas, Dalkey and murdered by her mother Josie with a knitting needle prior to being disposed of in Lee’s Lane.
Mrs Owen and a number of her siblings have also made statements alleging sexual abuse by her father Peter Murphy – a former Corporation labourer and subsequently caretaker of the Town Hall, Dalkey – and other members of the Murphy household.
The Garda investigation into Noleen’s death, which took place over a six-week period in 1973, failed to identify Cynthia as the child’s mother.
At the 2007 inquest, evidence was given that key files were missing and that at least one Garda statement in the remaining files had been fabricated.
Items found with the body, which could have provided DNA to assist in identifying maternity and paternity, were also missing.
A request to have Noleen’s body exhumed from the plot in the Holy Angel’s Plot, Glasnevin, where she had been buried in 1973, was refused by the then Justice Minister Michael McDowell.
Mrs Owen has also alleged that she was prostituted by her parents to a group of local men, including three local Gardaí. The abuse is alleged to have primarily taken place at night in a building in Dalkey, to have commenced in or about 1972, and to have continued for some years thereafter.
In her book, ‘Living with Evil’ (2010), Cynthia Owen describes being awoken at night and taken by her mother to a “large, scary building” not far from her home, where she is raped and sexually abused by a number of men, including her father.
The abuse takes place by candlelight and the men are described as wearing dark cloaks. The following day Mrs Owen is sent by her mother to the houses of the men involved to collect food and money.
The abuse – and the same pattern of collection the following day – is described as continuing following Cynthia’s first menstruation, and throughout and subsequent to her pregnancy with Noleen.
It ends following the birth to Cynthia of a second, stillborn, son John Murphy in June 1976. Mrs Owen also recounts on one occasion being collected from her house by one of the abusers in his car, and taken to an area of waste ground, where he threatens to bury her alive if she says anything about the abuse.
In January 2016, Cynthia Owen posted on her Facebook page photos of the surviving men alleged by her to have been involved in this abuse.
She also identified the ‘large, scary building’ as being a house on Sorrento Road, Dublin owned by a specified individual. In addition, she mentioned further abuse having taken place at the Hell Fire Club, Rathfarnham.
Among the men whose photograph was posted by Cynthia was Frank Mullen, a leading figure in the Dalkey community.
In 1973, Mullen was also a member of the Gardaí stationed at Dun Laoghaire Garda station.
Subsequently he went on to establish, and act as President and Vice-President of the Garda Representative Association (GRA).
Following his resignation from the Gardaí and the GRA, shortly before his retirement date, he built a successful career as a Dalkey insurance broker – kick-started by the award of the GRA insurance contract.
He also had a long association with Dalkey Football Club, where he acted as mentor to Paul McGrath, and has written two books on the history of Dalkey.
In both interviews with Michael Clifford, Frank Mullen denies ever having known Cynthia Owen and challenges her account of events, saying that he has carried out his own investigation which discloses ‘irrefutable evidence’ that Mrs Owens’ story is not true.
However, the account of Cynthia Owen’s claims as given by Mr Mullen and Mr Clifford in the interview is not entirely correct.
Further, at least one of the items of ‘irrefutable evidence’ cited by Mr Mullen appears to be based on a misunderstanding by Mr Mullen of the account of events actually given by Cynthia Owen.
There are also some inconsistencies between Mr Mullen’s account of the investigation into Noleen’s death and that given by witnesses at the 2007 inquest.
In the Examiner piece, Mr Mullen points out two alleged discrepancies in Cynthia Owen’s evidence.
Firstly, he denies he was ever in her home in uniform, saying that he has been out of uniform since 1964/5 onwards (in the radio interview, Ellen Mullen states that he has been out of uniform since the time of joining the GRA, which occurred in the late 1970s).
However, we can find no allegation having been made by Cynthia Owen that Frank Mullen abused her within her home, such abuse, as stated, having been described by her as occurring elsewhere.
Accordingly whether or not Mr Mullen was ever in her home does not appear directly relevant to the truth or otherwise of her allegations.
In the same piece, Michael Clifford describes Noleen’s conception as having taken place in Cynthia’s home. Mr Clifford, in the Newstalk interview, also states that Noleen was fathered by Cynthia’s father Peter Murphy.
This is not consistent with Cynthia Owen’s account of events, which leaves open the identity of Noleen’s father, although she does state at one point that the baby had a chin dimple like her father.
Cynthia Owen’s allegation of abuse by local men on a monthly basis, commencing prior to her first menstruation and continuing through her pregnancy with Noleen, leaves open the possibility that Noleen may have been conceived by one of the men concerned in the Sorrento Road house.
The second alleged discrepancy identified by Mr Mullen in the Examiner piece, and also referred to by Frank and Ellen Mullen in the Newstalk interview, relates to Cynthia Owen’s purported description, in her Facebook post, of the Sorrento Road house as ‘owned’ by a named individual at the time of the abuse.
Mr Mullen states that searches carried out by him in Thom’s Directory have shown that this individual did not occupy the house prior to 1984.
However a reading of Ms Owen’s Facebook post shows that she simply describes the person named as the ‘owner’ of the house in question; she does not state the date on which they became the owner of the house and does not say they were the owner or indeed the occupier of the house at the time of the abuse.
In the Newstalk interview, although not in the Examiner piece, Mr Mullen goes on to identify a further matter which he regards as conclusively proving his innocence – the fact that Cynthia’s father Peter Murphy was not yet caretaker of Dalkey Town Hall at the time of Noleen’s death.
Mr Mullen’s exact words were as follows:
“[W]hen we looked into it we discovered that she, her, she was based, basing her accusations in a way about whether her father worked as a caretaker in Dalkey Town Hall. Now, what she has stated is totally wrong because her father didn’t work as a caretaker when she was that age. And I gave proof of this to the Garda Siochana…”
We cannot find any evidence to support Frank Mullen’s claim that Cynthia Owen was basing her allegations against local men – on her father being caretaker of Dalkey Town Hall.
There is no reference whatsoever in any interview or publication by Ms Owen to her father being caretaker of Dalkey Town Hall at the time of the abuse in Sorrento Road, which has never been alleged to have taken place in the Town Hall.
Accordingly this point – which is regarded by Mullen as conclusively establishing his innocence – would appear to be irrelevant.
Frank Mullen further says in the Newstalk interview that he ‘only got to know’ Peter Murphy when he became caretaker of the town hall.
However he also says shortly before in the same interview that having grown up in Dalkey he would have known Peter Murphy from a young age.
The Examiner piece gives the following extract from a statement made by Mr Mullen to Gardai:
“Yeah, I knew him [Peter Murphy] most of my life in the town. I grew up there. I never got to know him until he became caretaker of the Dalkey town hall. I was probably aware of where they lived. I was aware of a Murphy family [in White’s Villas] I used to pal around with a fella from there.”
Both Mr Mullen and Mr Clifford drew attention to Cynthia Owen’s claim that the abuse by local men was of a ritual nature.
As stated by Mr Mullen in the radio interview:
“You couldn’t actually describe it publically but it was the most perverted any of us had ever seen. It involves, it involves activities with goats and kid goats and sexual involvement with her… the blood of goats that we slaughtered and covered our body with before we raped her, I mean that sort of insanity.”
Statistics released by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre in 2014 state that 44% of the calls to their abuse helpline related to childhood sexual abuse, including ritual abuse and suspected abuse.
At the 2007 inquest, a childhood friend of Cynthia’s gave evidence that Cynthia Owen had confided in her as a child about ritual abuse, confidences Cynthia’s friend did not fully understand at the time because of her young age.
Mr Mullen takes particular issue with an account given by Cynthia Owen to the HSE of being abused by the same group of local men on Dalkey Island, in a ritual involving goats.
In the Newstalk interview, Frank Mullen’s wife, Ellen, states that it would not have been possible for her husband to take an 11-year-old girl in a boat to Dalkey Island without the whole town knowing. However Cynthia Owen’s account of events is that she was always the only child taken over to Dalkey Island by a group of men, under the cover of darkness at night.
Mr Mullen also states in the Newstalk interview that the man described by Ms Owen as his ‘lieutenant’ in the ritual abuse had left Dalkey before she was born.
However, as pointed out by Mrs Owen in her response to the Examiner piece, the fact that a person has moved out of an area does not stop them from returning to that area for visits.
Mullen also clarifies the circumstances of his involvement with the Garda investigation into Noleen’s death.
In the Irish Examiner interview Mr Mullen states that he was on duty in Dún Laoghaire Garda Station when:
“[t]wo young lads came in and said there’s a baby found in the laneway and myself and another chap went over and other people were there and the baby was lying wrapped up in newspapers. Members of the bureau [the murder squad] were called out.”
In the radio interview Mr Mullen states that
“… this baby was found in a laneway and the laneway was directly opposite the laneway into the Dun Laoghaire Garda Station – 30 yards – and the body was found on a Sunday morning, or a bank holiday morning, I can’t remember which, wrapped up in paper…we happened to be in the station at the time and the first there, the first to go over… I took some statements from witnesses, I did. I took two from, to the best of my memory now at this stage, I took two statements from two people who saw the body and who walked, like the person who reported it, walked in to the station, to say that, they were separate, to say that they’d seen this baby or whatever and I just happened to be there again because it was my station…”
Mr Mullen says he had no further involvement in the investigation, which was taken over by the Murder Squad. Newspaper reports describe the Gardaí in charge of the investigation as Superintendent Jacob Lawlor and Detective Sergeant John O’Rourke.
At the 2007 inquest, Irish Times journalist Uinsionn Mac Dubhghaill gave evidence that he and a friend had found Noleen’s body in a green laundry bag in Lee’s Lane on their way back from collecting seaweed for their gardens.
Mr Mac Dubhghaill had been looking for a bag to put the seaweed in when he came upon the green laundry bag containing Noleen’s body. Mr Mac Dubhghaill stated that he and his friend told his father about the baby, and that his father then reported this to Dun Laoghaire Garda station.
At the same inquest, Inspector Eddie Russell, Station Sergeant at Dun Laoghaire Garda Station in 1973, emphatically denied having made a statement which forms part of the surviving file in relation to Noleen’s death.
This statement records Mr Russell as having seen Noleen’s body. It also records his efforts to track down the boys who originally found her.
At the inquest, Mr Russell (now deceased) stated that he did not make the statement and he would like to know who did.
In both the Examiner piece and the Newstalk interviews, Michael Clifford discusses with Frank and Ellen Mullen further allegations made against him in relation to the deaths of Derek and Stella Howard and 11 of their 13 children in a fire at Carysfort Avenue, close to White’s Villas, on March 11, 1974, approximately 11 months after Noleen was found in Lee’s Lane.
The Howards were friends of the Murphy children and were well known in Dalkey due to their work in their father’s newspaper delivery service.
Some months previously, one of the Howard boys, Jackie, aged 15 1/2 but ‘small for his age’, had been scouted for a child role in the Peter Sellers film ‘Ghost in the Noonday Sun,’ and had flown to London with other Irish boys to screen-test.
Mr Howard, who ran a newspaper stall at Dalkey Station, had recently bought out his Corporation house.
An article in Dalkey Community News published to commemorate the anniversary of the Howards’ death records a story of a diamond ring purchased by Derek Howard for Stella, pregnant with the couple’s 14th child, in Jamesons, O’Connell Street at Christmas, 1973. Mr Howard told staff that it was the first ring he had ever been able to afford for her.
The Howard family home was a two-storey, three-bedroomed dwelling, with a ‘very neat’ front lawn, two front bedrooms (a main one and a smaller one) and a back bedroom.
At 12.27 a.m. on March 11, 1974, a neighbour heard a bang and saw smoke and flames in the downstairs front room of the house. Subsequently a voice, believed to be that of Stella Howard, was heard calling, ‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph someone help me’.
Stella Howard was then seen at the window of the front main bedroom ‘surrounded by children’. Neighbours were calling for her to throw the children out, when there was a bang downstairs, the front windows of the house blew out and fire was seen spreading up the stairs.
Neighbours seeking to get in through the front door were blown back by the flames. A young neighbour who succeeded in getting into the smaller front bedroom was overcome with smoke and had to withdraw.
At the subsequent inquest, evidence was given that the Dun Laoghaire fire brigade was called at 12.41 a.m. and arrived at 12.47 a.m. When the fire officers entered the house, they found nine bodies (including Mr and Mrs Howard) in the main bedroom, one body in the smaller front bedroom and five bodies in the back bedroom.
Artificial respiration commenced but only three of the children – Louise, Colin and Anthony – were found to be still alive. The Dun Laoghaire Fire Brigade Ambulance was not available to come to the blaze and ambulances from other stations only arrived at 1.30 a.m.
One of the surviving children – Colin – had to be taken to hospital in a squad car. Both Colin and Anthony survived, but their sister Louise subsequently died in hospital from renal failure caused by burns.
Questions were subsequently asked at local council meetings about the unavailability of the Dun Laoghaire Fire Brigade Ambulance – which was stated to be due to all the men from the station already having left with the fire brigade – and evidence was also given at the inquest that a fire hydrant near the house was not accessible.
Although the cause of death at the inquest was held to be poisonous fumes from PVC furnishings ignited by the fire, the actual cause of the fire itself – described as having originated downstairs – was stated to be unidentifiable.
No reference can be found in the reports of the inquest to the suggestion, featuring in prior news reports, that the fire might have been caused by the Howard’s family dog, Lassie.
Frank Mullen was among the officers carrying out the investigation into the Howard fire and was commended at the inquest for his work.
In the Newstalk interview Mr Mullen states that the fire “was aways treated as a horrendous accident, the man in the house was a newspaper vendor, he had a room full of newspapers.”
In the Examiner piece, Michael Clifford states that the fire was caused by an oil heater. This is however contradicted by reports of the inquest, which heard evidence that the fire started downstairs, and that the only oil heater in the house was upstairs.
“Both a pile of newspapers and an oil heater were ruled out as causes,” according to a report in the Irish Press.
Newspaper reports are unclear as to the precise circumstances of death of one member of the Howard family, Louise Howard, aged 19, and the last member of the family to return home the evening of the fire.
At the inquest, it was stated that the body of an adult female (not Mrs Howard) was found in the small front bedroom. Five bodies were found in the back bedroom – four children – including Colin and Anthony – behind a double bunk bed and a young girl on the floor.
The terms ‘adult female’ and ‘young girl’ would indicate that it was Louise’s younger sister – Margaret, aged 13 – who was found in the back bedroom with Louise being the body found in the front bedroom.
This is however contradicted by a newspaper report prior to the inquest which records a ‘Garda source’ as having stating that Louise died as a result of burns caused while seeking to shield Colin and Anthony from the fire, implying that it was Louise, rather than Margaret, who was found in the back bedroom.
To compound matters, Louise was found at the inquest to have died from renal failure caused by burns. However it can be seen from the above that Louise must have been found in either the small front or the back bedroom, which were specifically described at the inquest as having been untouched by fire.
The two surviving Howard siblings, Colin and Anthony, recovered from the fire and went to live with an aunt in Sallynoggin. A newspaper report recording the first anniversary of the fire states that Colin is in hospital after being knocked down by a car in Sallynoggin. It also refers to a fund set up by the local community to benefit Colin and Anthony.
The proceeds of the subsequent sale of the Howard family home was similarly stated as being held on trust for them.
Both boys subsequently emigrated to England. Anthony is now deceased but Colin is alive.
In the Examiner interview, it is stated that Anthony Howard made certain allegations against Frank Mullen some years ago, which allegedly were passed by Cynthia Owen to the gardai.
In both the Examiner article and the Newstalk interview, Frank and Ellen Mullen are interviewed about the distress and upset caused to them by the allegations of abuse and the subsequent ‘rumour mill’ in Dalkey, including Frank’s subsequent expulsion from Dalkey UFC (in the print interview, Dalkey UFC declined to comment).
Speaking on Newstalk, Ellen Mullen specifically seeks a document – any document – clearing her husband’s name.
Cynthia Owen, likewise, has detailed the distress and upset caused to her by the delay in dealing with her allegations of sexual abuse since she first reported the circumstances of Noleen’s death to Dun Laoghaire Garda Station in 1995.
Ms Owen has stated that she is unhappy not only with the way in which the original investigation was conducted, but also with aspects of the subsequent investigations which took place following this report.
In particular Mrs Owen has criticised the failure of the Director of Public Prosecutions to bring any prosecutions on foot of her allegations.
At the inquest Cynthia and a number of her siblings detailed on oath sexual abuse by Peter Murphy (then still alive) and other family members, one of whom, Peter Murphy Junior, waived his anonymity at the inquest to deny these allegations.
Although these other family members remain alive, no prosecution has ever been brought against them.
Broadsheet has previously expressed concerns about the unpublished report into Ms Owen’s allegations prepared by Patrick Gageby SC, following the inquest verdict at the behest of Minister for Justice Michael McDowell, which concluded that there was no basis for an inquiry into Cynthia Owen’s allegations.
As outlined in a previous post, Mr Gageby was at the time of his appointment a Senior Counsel with particular expertise in representing defendants in delayed sexual abuse cases.
In the three years prior to his appointment, Mr Gageby acted for such defendants in at least 10 applications to have their prosecution stayed on the basis that the delay was such as to render them an injustice. During the same period, he also delivered two conference papers critical of sexual abuse complaints.
The authority relied on by Mr Gageby to strike out sexual abuse complaints on the basis of delay originates in a controversial and unprecedented Supreme Court decision involving a successful striking out application by swimming coach George Gibney in 1993.
That decision does not reflect the current approach of the Supreme Court which has subsequently adopted a more nuanced attitude to delayed sexual abuse complaints.
Cynthia Owen’s case is among 13 sample cases being brought by Justice4All to the United Nations Human Rights Commission to summon the Justice Minister to “answer for the State’s failings”.
To date her calls for a full inquiry into her allegations have gone unanswered.
Had such an inquiry been carried out, the unacceptable situation above could have been avoided.
Perhaps, in light of Mr and Mrs Mullen coming forward, the Minister for Justice should now consider setting up such an inquiry.
Sources: Irish Times, The Guardian, The Irish Press, The Evening Press, The Irish Examiner, The Sunday Independent, The Sunday Tribune, The Sunday Business Post, The Evening Herald, The Sunday World and court records.
Previously: A Dalkey Archive
Pics: Rollingnews, youtube, Irish Examiner
A transcript of Newstalk Interview with Frank and Ellen Mullen:
Mick Clifford: “A story that has been in and out of the media over the last I’d say 10 or 12 years is that of Cynthia Owen, nee Murphy. Cynthia Owen is a woman who has made a series of allegations about what happened in her childhood home in Dalkey, Co. Dublin. She’s now a grown woman, she’s living in England but she alleges that, during her childhood, she was subjected to some horrific sexual abuse and physical abuse within her home. She has also been deemed by a coroner’s court to be the mother of a baby whose body was found in Dun Laoghaire in 1973 when Cynthia Owen was 11 years of age. Ms Owen alleges that baby was a result of a rape she suffered in her own home. Apart from her allegations to do with what happened in her home, she has also alleged that she was hired out by her parents to a paedophile ring, as she says it, that operated in Dalkey at the time. She named 12 men whom she alleges were part of this ring. All of those men deny any involvement whatsoever. One of those she mentioned was Frank Mullen and Frank Mullen is a former guard, he joins us now with his wife, Ellen. And I just want to start off, Frank and Ellen, by asking you, as you’re both aware, there was a whole series of allegations – as you said yourself Frank, up to 100 at one stage: why do you think Cynthia Owen made these allegations against you and the other men that she named?”
Frank Mullen: “Well I wouldn’t have any idea why she did it but certainly, in my view, she didn’t, wasn’t given the attention it should have got and the action that should have been taken – when it was proved by any shadow of doubt that the allegations were false – she was allowed to carry on irrespective of what she was saying.”
Clifford: “But why do you think that she named, I mean there was 12 men she said, in Dalkey area, why do you think she named you and the other 11?”
Frank Mullen: “I’m fairly well convinced that we were so prominent in the area, in the community, all of those people who were well known, that’s…”
Clifford: “Ellen, what do you feel about that?”
Ellen Mullen: “Well, I think it’s because they were a local family, you know, there were generations from Dalkey Hill and that he was…”
Clifford: “Sorry, that’s Frank’s family?”
Ellen Mullen: “Frank’s family, so you pick on a family, the name Mullen, they were well known and he did a lot of community work in the town, he was very involved in the local soccer club, from a very young age. His dad was in it, his grandfather was involved in it…”
Clifford: “And I presume like anywhere, because you were a member of An Garda Siochana up until the 1980s, everybody knows the local guard as well.”
Ellen Mullen: “Everyone knows and the borough of Dun Laoghaire, Dalkey’s a very small place but the borough of Dun Laoghaire is very small when it comes to soccer clubs or local clubs. Everybody knows everybody. Going back to when I met Frank, I would have known every one of the local Dalkey United team. And you would have known them on the personal level, you would have known their wives or those who were going out with somebody and eventually got married. And I think, you know, when you’re so well known, it’s very easy, pick a name.”
Clifford: “OK. And that’s why, in your opinion, that you were accused in terms of these allegations. Did you know, or do you know Cynthia Owen nee Murphy?”
Frank Mullen: “No.”
Ellen Mullen: “No.”
Clifford: “Did you know the family?”
Frank Mullen: “Murphy?”
Clifford: “The Murphys.”
Frank Mullen: “Oh yeah, I knew them, of course I did, yeah because as I said…”
Ellen Mullen: “But you wouldn’t have known the children individually.”
Frank Mullen: “Oh I didn’t know the children.”
Ellen Mullen: “I never knew them.”
Frank Mullen: “Oh no, no, no.”
Ellen Mullen: “They went to school in Dalkey. I didn’t know any of them at that school because our children would have been at school, our oldest would have been around the same age as them.”
Frank Mullen: “I knew her fath-, I knew her father.”
Clifford: “Peter Murphy.”
Frank Mullen: “He was the caretaker and the town hall was the centre of all the activity.”
Clifford: “Of course.”
Frank Mullen: “Indoor training, the winter, etc, etc and when Peter Murphy retired, there was a huge presentation to him – from all the groups. This was before any of this broke. From all the groups, we used the town hall, when he retired, he was given a presentation down in Dalkey. And so many groups contributed because he was very helpful to everybody who used the town hall.”
Ellen Mullen: “Well there was the musical society, the tennis clubs, the old folks dinner…”
Frank Mullen: “The dramatic society…”
Ellen Mullen: “Dalkey Festival used it when the Dalkey Festival was…”
Clifford: “Yeah and, to be fair, it should be said, you know, we have often come across scenarios when somebody outside the home is a very different individual to inside the home and there’s no doubt with a number of people who grew up in that house taking their own lives, there was, certainly, I think it’s fair to say something highly dysfunctional there.”
Ellen Mullen: “Yeah.”
Clifford: “Some of the allegations, as you know, Cynthia Owen claims that you were involved in the cover-up of the murder of this baby that was found in Dun Laoghaire and, as I understand you Frank, you say you had absolutely nothing to do with a cover-up: what was your role in that investigation?”
Frank Mullen: “Well if I could explain very briefly, this baby was found in a laneway and the laneway was directly opposite the laneway into the Dun Laoghaire Garda Station – 30 yards – and the body was found on a Sunday morning, or a bank holiday morning, I can’t remember which, wrapped up in paper…”
Clifford: “You were based in Dun Laoghaire at the time..”
Frank Mullen: “Yes at the time..”
Clifford: “You were serving..”
Frank Mullen: “That’s how we happened to be in the station at the time and the first there, the first to go over and…”
Clifford: “And you also took some statements from witnesses in relation to that?”
Frank Mullen: “Yeah. When I say, when you say I took some statements from witnesses, I did. I took two from, to the best of my memory now at this stage, I took two statements from two people who saw the body and who walked, like the person who reported it, walked in to the station, to say that, they were separate, to say that they’d seen this baby or whatever and I just happened to be there again because it was my station…”
Clifford: “Yeah, they’re routine types of statements in any investigation like that…”
Frank Mullen: “Absolutely…and it wasn’t, it was just a routine statement.”
Clifford: “And the rest of the investigation, did you have anything to do with that?”
Frank Mullen: “No, nothing whatsoever.”
Ellen Mullen: “Actually the lane way was known as the back of Lee’s shop..”
Frank Mullen: “That’s right.”
Ellen Mullen: “It was Lee’s, the lane way at the back of Lee’s shop. And I think, if I can remember, I think that the two, two, there were two young boys that saw this?”
Clifford: “There were actually cause that’s the record. One of them actually went on to be a journalist..”
Ellen Mullen: “Did he? Yeah.”
Clifford: “…with the Irish Times.”
Ellen Mullen: “That’s what I, my vague memory of it, there were two boys, not an adult.”
Clifford: “Oh yes, that found, I think they were around 10/11 years of age, the two boys, yeah, that’s correct.”
Ellen Mullen: “Yeah.”
Clifford: “The other allegations, as you know, concern Cynthia Owen suggests that her father was the caretaker in Dalkey Hall and I think she suggests that on some occasions that her mother was involved as well in, to use an awful term, hiring her out as a child to this so-called paedophile ring. Now as I understand you, Frank, you’ve a number of incidences whereby you say that some of these allegations simply don’t stack up on a factual basis, apart from all of the fact that you say you’ve nothing to do with any of it.”
Frank Mullen: “They don’t stack up, no, because there are many reasons for it. When we looked into it, we discovered that she, her, she was based, basing her accusations in a way about whether her father worked as a caretaker in Dalkey Town Hall. Now, what she has stated is totally wrong because her father didn’t work as a caretaker when she was that age. And I gave proof of this to the Garda Siochana in certification which I got from the corporation headquarters and that proves conclusively that she’s wrong there.”
Clifford: “Right and there’s other instances. Now. There was also an allegation that she was taken to a house where another named individual lived but I think you found some records that contradict that.”
Frank Mullen: “Yes, I’ll refer briefly to my investigation. I was so frustrated, we were so frustrated, Ellen and I, where nothing was happening to anything that I reported and I…”
Clifford: “Reported to the gardai?”
Frank Mullen: “The gardai. It was just left hanging there and the rumour machine was working in Dalkey and I was becoming the focus of attention and we decided that I’d do my own private investigation which I duly did. And that proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that lots of the things that she did say couldn’t have happened. And I gave this information, and this, this documentary evidence to the Garda Siochana, in the expectation that they would act on it accordingly. But of course they did nothing about it.”
Clifford: “Well now, I would imagine what that gardaí will say is that there has been no prosecution and therefore, as far as they were concerned, there was no case. Certainly having referred it to the DPP, there was no case about you. What I’m getting at Frank is, what more would you have liked the Gardai to do, that they didn’t do in terms of the accusations and your, your good name?”
Frank Mullen: “Well, at the very start I found, when the rumour machine was at full strength and when my name was being mentioned, on a daily basis around the town, that sort of stuff, I couldn’t get the Garda Siochana to take a statement from me – to clear my name. And I got my solicitor to write to the superintendant, or the chief, whatever it was, looking for to take this statement and they wouldn’t do it. And it took me ages to get them to take a statement and then only when I threatened to go public.”
Ellen Mullen: “This goes back to 2005 when he first wanted, when you first wanted, Frank, wanted to make his statement and it drifted on from there and the generic letters started filtering backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards…”
Clifford: “When you say the generic letters now, Ellen, what do you mean?”
Ellen Mullen: “Coming from the superintendent, the chief superintendent, signed by a certain person whom I won’t name, the same person is on every letter. I have a briefcase full of files and this letter, this person keeps signing this letter.”
Clifford: “And what is the context…”
Ellen Mullen: “We’ve received your letter and we’re…”
Ellen Mullen: “You know, we’re looking..”
Clifford: “We acknowledge your letter, we’re looking into it..”
Ellen Mullen: “We’ve acknowledged, yeah, the date at the top and the signature at the bottom and this has gone on and on and on and…”
Frank Mullen: “To the present day.”
Ellen Mullen: “To the present day, I have written to the minister, the previous minister for justice [Alan Shatter], the present minister for justice [Frances Fitzgerald]. I wrote to her as a mother, as a grandmother.”
Clifford: “Ellen what specifically did you ask in those letters?”
Ellen Mullen: “To clear Frank’s good name, just to clear the Mullen name, that we could live in peace and that we wouldn’t have the media doorstepping Frank or parking outside the gate or that he could go to the 40 Foot in peace and could get undressed and get dressed.”
Clifford: “And in your opinion, was the investigations conducted, now we know that there’s investigations by the gardai, there was an investigation by the HSE and there was a review which was initiated by the Minister for Justice [then Michael McDowell] – in your opinion, were those investigations conducted in the fullest manner that would satisfy you?”
Ellen Mullen: “No, no, I would even go so far as to say there wasn’t any investigation, that it was just, the letters piled up and they were transferred from Billy to Jack, they went from the Minister to the park [Garda HQ in Phoenix Park]. The last letter was in I think March of this year a letter went, it was transferred from the minister for justice to a section in the park, I rang that section in the park, I got the name of the person who has a list of degrees after his name, I rang the number, I spoke to a man in there, he listened and he said the letter is gone back to Dun Laoghaire.”
Clifford: “And in what manner could Frank’s name be cleared to the extent that your suggesting?”
Ellen Mullen: “I think that if they had, for instance, the file that Frank gave from the Thom’s Directory..”
Clifford: “That was in relation to this house where Cynthia Owen said she was brought…”
Talk over each other
Ellen Mullen: “The house…When he left the guards, when he went out of uniform, when he was transferred..”
Clifford: “That was in relation to allegations that he’d appeared in Cynthia Owen’s childhood home in uniform but his records show he was out of uniform in the early Sixties.”
Ellen Mullen: “Yeah, he wasn’t in uniform. He was in the GRA, he had kind of gone out of the whole scene in Dun Laoghaire and in Dalkey, he was gone from the F district and you know…”
Clifford: “Yeah, but what I’m getting at, what form of clearance, like what would you like to see or receive that would satisfy you that Frank’s name was cleared?”
Ellen Mullen: “I just want a document to say that Frank was not the leader of a paedophile ring in Dalkey, that he didn’t commit any crime, that he never interfered with a child. The most caring, loving dad and granddad, did an awful lot of work, when he was in the guards, for people who had problems, local people in the town, he would have helped and here he is, you know, classified as some kind of a criminal. So you go to bed at night, you can’t sleep, I haven’t slept since January, since Facebook.”
Clifford: “Now that’s reference to a posting on Facebook where Frank’s name was mentioned.”
Ellen Mullen: “Yes..”
Clifford: “Another allegation, it was a Facebook under Cynthia Owen’s name, whether or not she posted it, but tell me about that, about the impact of that and the wider impact Frank on your life?”
Frank Mullen: “Well the wider impact on my life has been very significant because the one aspect of it that really upsets me is that when I decided to do this investigation myself, because there was nothing else being done about it, I did it in a very discreet way and I came up with incredible, with irrefutable evidence to the effect that these events could not have taken place for various reasons, which I made out and gave, in written form, to the Garda authorities in the expectation that they would do something about it. And they did absolutely nothing. And they haven’t done it yet. And even to the present day, I wrote a letter on the 9th of January, wasn’t it?”
Ellen Mullen: “The 9th of January..”
Frank Mullen: “Yeah the 9th of January..”
Ellen Mullen: “To the chief superintendent…”
Frank Mullen: “…Outlining the problems that I had and the non activity, if you like, of the gardai investigating any of these things and I had an interview…”
Ellen Mullen: “You were looking for a transcript…”
Frank Mullen: “I was looking, that was part of it..”
Ellen Mullen: “The 17th of June 2014
Clifford: “You were looking for a transcript of an interview the gardai conducted with you..”
Frank Mullen: “Yeah but the gardai conducted two interviews and that’s something I said I have to, two, because they were done at my behest, not at the Garda Siochana because I couldn’t get the gardai to, first, take a statement and then after, as the thing wore on, I could get no movement and I demanded a review and I was told, first though, there were five allegations and then there happened to be 40 and then, when I was talking to the chief superintendent he told me that I shouldn’t be going down this road because it’s too perverted and everything else and there are 104 allegations…”
Frank Mullen: “..that I’m involved in.”
Clifford: “104 allegations.”
Frank Mullen: “104 and nothing done about them.”
Clifford: “Two things just and this is what people would say, what Cynthia Owen has said, and people who would very much be sympathetic with her position have said, the HSE investigation, the person who conducted that, suggested that her allegations were credible and consistent.”
Ellen Mullen: “And consistent.”
Clifford: “And she, in a statement she released since the piece was published in the Examiner last Monday, she also said that the pyschologist hired by the gardai in its investigation said that she was believable, I’m not sure that’s the correct term but something along those lines as well. How would you respond to that?”
Ellen Mullen: “Never…”
Frank Mullen: “If the gardai had of examined the evidence I gave them, they would have seen that it couldn’t be like that because there was no connection whatsoever in relation to what she was saying and there was irrefutable evidence to say that it couldn’t have happened. You take for example, she made a horrendous allegation against me and others bringing children – herself included – to Dalkey Island…”
Clifford: “A ritual involving goats I think is the phrase that was used…”
Frank Mullen: “You couldn’t actually describe it publically but it was the most perverted any of us had ever seen. It involves, it involves activities with goats and kid goats and sexual involvement with her…”
Ellen Mullen: “But you couldn’t have…”
Frank Mullen: “Can I mention, can I mention, in the blood of goats that we slaughtered and covered our body with before we raped her, I mean that sort of insanity.”
Ellen Mullen: “But you couldn’t have down at Dalkey Harbour, you couldn’t have actually, there were huts down at Dalkey Harbour and all the men would have known Frank, would have known Frank’s father, they were in the huts, you couldn’t have taken a boat out and rowed with an 11-year-old child to Dalkey Island without the whole town knowing about it.”
Frank Mullen: “Can I say another thing? The man that she said was my real lieutenant if you know assistant – that man had left Dalkey three years, three years before she was born.”
Clifford: “OK, and there was then there was another allegation that surfaced I think a couple of years ago and that was in relation to a horrendously tragic event in Dalkey, this house fire in which the Howard family who lived there, 13 of them died in the fire. And was there a suggestion put that, and I think the suggestion initiated with one of the Howard family’s survivors, according to Ms Owen, and they conveyed to her this allegation that you’d been involved in that in some way and she conveyed it to the gardai..”
Frank Mullen: “That Howard…the allegations in relation to the Howards, that came on top of me like a thunderstorm. I had had heard no word of any such thing happening over the years..”
Clifford: “For the record, this was over 40 years ago and it was always treated as a tragic accident. The man of the house was a newspaper vendor, he’d a room full of newspapers, it was always treated as a horrendous accident.”
Frank Mullen: “Yeah, when I was finished the second review, finished, totally, I felt totally happy, I felt that it was all over now and 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. And I got such a shock that I passed out. I physically passed out, got weak. I couldn’t believe it and that was the first I’d ever heard about it.”
Clifford: “That was only about two years ago, am I right?”
Ellen Mullen: “17th of July, 2014.”
Frank Mullen: “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 I was never told about it. And, what more can I say?”
Clifford: “Yeah. And I’ve discovered independently Frank that, around that time, yourself and others were involved, I think, in an effort to do up the graves of that particular family, I saw reference to it by elsewhere…”
Ellen Mullen: “That’s right..”
Frank Mullen: “I didn’t want to say that because I didn’t want, might think I was looking for praise. The entire family is buried in a mass grave in Deansgrange and there’s a couple of our people buried quite near them and visiting those graves, some of the lads, two of the lads who played for the football club, and part of my whole family, passing to visit our friends’ graves, we noticed the deterioration in the Howard grave. And it was decaying and we said what a pity, coming up to 40 years, and we clubbed together and we got Burnell’s to do a splendid job on it and that was just before the 40th anniversary. Now that’s the reason we did that and that brought the focus then of course.”
Ellen Mullen: “Frank’s father and Daddy Howard, as he was known, this Howard man’s dad, they were friends. So Daddy Howard and Frank’s dad would have been friends.”
Frank Mullen: “They worked in the corporation…”
Ellen Mullen: “They worked in the corporation together.”
Clifford: “Now you mentioned football and your association with Dalkey United came to an end last year.”
Frank Mullen: “Yeah.”
Clifford: “Do you want to tell us about that?”
Frank Mullen: “Yeah, I’ve been in Dalkey United since the start, since 1953 and a group took over Dalkey United during a period I was laid up in hospital, a hip thing and that, and they put it to me quite bluntly that I was an embarrassment to the club because of the allegations that had been made against me in relation to these, the Murphy case and all that and they wanted me to resign and I wouldn’t resign and I told them and I have the notes about all this, and I wouldn’t pack in or resign and then they said that the committee wanted this and I said, ‘how come there was a committee meeting when I wasn’t told about it?’ I’m on the committee. ‘Well, it wasn’t the meeting, but we contacted different members of the committee and we want, there’s a committee meeting going to be held’. Because I insisted on it. And when the meeting was held and I wanted to give, to show the evidence, they wouldn’t even take the evidence of the seven or eight times that I [inaudble] the DPP and they said, ‘look it, we’re not interested in that’. And I said, ‘well I don’t want any further meetings called without my knowledge’ and when I was away in Tipperary with Ellen, they called a meeting and kicked me out. And they wouldn’t allow me produce one of the documents where I’d been exonerated by the DPP or anybody else.”
Clifford: “OK, Frank, why have you decided now, at this stage, to effectively go public with your identity as being the person, one of the people at the centre of this whole affair?”
Frank Mullen: “Well as I said previously, I could not get any satisfaction to having my name cleared and I had no intention of going to my, to the next world, passing on, and leaving this behind me, as a legacy, all these allegations and I wanted to clear my name for the sake of my family, my wife, my children, when I have departed from this world because I had learned from a legal friend that they can say whatever they like about you when you’re gone and you’ve no defence and the children have no defence and I can’t do anything about it. And I was determined that I would have my name cleared before I passed away.”
Ellen Mullen: “My reason is the same but a lot different. After the Facebook case, Frank couldn’t sleep, he cried himself to sleep every night and he came back one day from the 40 Foot and he said to me, if you weren’t here, I’d swim out and I wouldn’t come back. And I said, ‘well, Frank, this has to be confronted.”
Clifford: “OK, Frank and Ellen Mullen, thank you very much for joining us this morning.”
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