From top: former Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Kenneally; his cousin Billy Kenneally: former Garda Superintendant Sean Cashman; victim Paul Walsh, human rights lawyer Darragh Mackin, victim Colin Power and victim Jason Clancy.
Further to an article in yesterday’s Sunday Independent by Damian Tiernan, RTÉ’s South East Correspondent, concerning a Former Waterford Fianna Fáil TD who was told his cousin abused boys but did nothing…
Saoirse McGarrigle writes:
Victims of paedophile Bill Kenneally describe his sentencing as a “window dressing” to conceal the fact that the authorities were aware of the abuse three decades before he was jailed.
Six of his victims say they now believe that senior gardaí, members of Fianna Fáil, members of the Catholic Church and staff at the South Eastern Health Board were told about the abuse but failed to act.
They are now pushing for a Commission of Investigation into who knew about the abuse and “turned a blind eye”.
Belfast based human rights lawyer Darrgah Mackin, who is also working on the Mary Boyle case, is representing six of the victims.
In the past week Mr Mackin has written to the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to bring the case to her attention.
Victim Jason Clancy said:
“I don’t know what’s more hurtful, the abuse or the fact that people in authority knew that I was being abused and did nothing.”
“They could have taken me out of my misery at any stage, but they chose not to.”
Another victim, Colin Power said:
“I had a lot of guilt about it all. I used to think that if I had of told someone that it would have stopped and that the younger lads who were abused after me could have been saved. That really affected me for a very long time…it niggled at me.
“I was feeling bad that as a 14 year old boy that I didn’t do something, but now I know that adults in Waterford knew about it and turned a blind eye. It really baffles me. He got away with it because these high society people turned a blind eye.”
Kenneally was convicted at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court on February 19 of this year when he pleaded guilty to ten sample counts of indecent assault. He is now serving a 14 year prison term, but he is appealing the severity of the sentence.
Barrister Darragh Mackin states that
“the prosecutorial process merely examined one aspect of the circumstances that give rise to our clients concerns that there existed a clear policy and/or state practice to deliberately prevent the identification and punishment of Mr Kenneally at an earlier stage.”
Although the prosecution did not begin until 2013, Gardaí knew about the abuse as early as 1985, when one victim reported it to a garda at Waterford Garda Station on the same day that he collected his Inter Cert results.
Meanwhile, another victim Paul Walsh claims that when he was 14 two gardaí approached him and warned him to stay away from Bill Kenneally.
Mr Walsh recalled:
“Back in 1987 when a guard stopped me in the pub and told me that there was a file ‘as long as your arm’ in the station about him I actually thought fair play to him. At the time I was 14 and I naively thought that meant that it was all going to stop,”
Then on a separate occasion Bill Kenneally was questioned at Waterford Garda Station in 1987 on foot of a complaint from another boy’s father.
Despite Keneally admitting to handcuffing, blindfolding and abusing boys when interviewed by Superintendent Sean Cashman he was released without charge and continued to abuse.
Bill Kenneally, an accountant from the well-known Fianna Fail family in Waterford city, used money and alcohol to entice his victims.
Some, but not all, of his victims were basketball players that he coached. He was at one point a national basketball coach.
In November 2012 father-of-four Jason Clancy went to the gardaí and told them that he had been repeatedly sexually abused by Kenneally on a weekly basis for over three-and-a-half years in the mid-1980s.
He also gave gardaí a list of names of other men that were also abused in their teens.
Shortly after Mr Clancy made a statement, gardaí raided Kenneally’s house at Laragh, Summerville Avenue, Waterford, and during the search he admitted to abusing up to 20 boys.
Kenneally offered to give gardaí a list of the names of the boys he abused.
But Mr Clancy claims that five months passed by and gardaí attempted to contact a couple of the men on the list that Mr Clancy had given them but then stopped making enquiries.
They did not return to collect the list which Kenneally had volunteered to give them.
During the period from December 2013 until April 2014 Bill Kenneally remained a committee member of a basketball club which had a largely young male membership, even though he had admitted to gardaí that he had sexually abused 20 boys.
Mr Clancy says that he was forced to speak to a journalist in order to get his abuser removed from a youth basketball club.
He says that exposing the situation in the media was the only thing that pushed the authorities to act.
Jason Clancy says that when he first contacted Waterford Garda Station that he was told by a senior garda that Bill Kenneally had “never appeared on our radar.”
Mr Clancy then gave a statement to two female gardaí who were trained in dealing with sexual assault cases.
He also gave gardaí a list of names of other men who were abused by Kenneally around the same time and asked gardaí to contact them.
One of the people that Jason Clancy asked gardaí to contact in mid December 2012 had not heard anything by mid February 2013, so this other victim began trying to contact Waterford Garda Station by phone himself in order to arrange to make a statement.
He lives abroad and wanted gardaí to request through Interpol that he be facilitated to give his statement at his local police station.
But gardaí took weeks to respond to him.
It was only when the story broke in the public domain that a requisition letter was sent to Interpol by Waterford gardaí to arrange for the statement to be given.
The date on the letter sent to Interpol is April 23, 2013, the same date that the story broke in the media.
All of the investigation activity logged in the Book of Evidence that was produced by the prosecution is dated after this date.
One of the main causes of concern is a number of questions left unanswered about a video tape that was discovered in the search of Bill Kenneally’s house.
Jason Clancy said:
“I was told by two separate gardaí that a paedophilia video was found in the search, but in the court case the detective said in her evidence that nothing of a paedophilia nature was found, just some pornography that was of a heterosexual nature”
Mr Clancy added:
“The two gardaí that I gave my statement to, however, told me that they found a video tape wrapped up in Sellotape and I even know who the victim was on that video and I know that he was a minor when Kenneally made that video of him.”
“As well as that gardaí noted to me that Bill Kenneally had a video recorder and a television in his bedroom, which was obviously used to make these disgusting sex tapes.”
“I want to know why they withheld this from the DPP. And also about a month before the trial the gardaí told me there is a chance that this man, who abused and tortured me, could walk away from a jail sentence because there was no evidence to prove that he had continued abusing after 1987 when they let him go from the station but all that time they held the piece of evidence that proved he did.”
In an RTÉ Prime Time documentary aired in May of this year, now retired chief superintendent Sean Cashman told South East correspondent Damien Tiernan:
“And I know, I know people were talking about it, you know, it was a political family and it was a cover-up, well there was no cover-up at all. And the irony of the whole situation really is that the best help I got to try and put him where he should have been, before the court, was from his uncle.”
Bill Kenneally’s uncle was the late TD Billy Kenneally. He died in 2009, but in 1987 he was a serving TD when he became aware that his nephew was abusing boys.
His son Brendan Kenneally succeeded him, becoming a TD 1989. He retired from political life after losing his seat in the 2011 general election.
In 2002 Brendan Kenneally was told by a Waterford woman that Bill Kenneally, who is his first cousin, had abused her sons. At that time Brendan Kenneally was a Taoiseach’s nominee to the Seanad.
He did not report the mother’s claims to the gardaí. Instead, he spoke with his uncle on his mother’s side and local priest Monsignor John Shine about the abuse and arranged counselling for Bill Kenneally.
Previously: ‘There Was No Cover Up At All’