“I Was Not Conscious Of Any Conflict At The Time”


Clockwise from top left: Cynthia Owen, Conor Devally SC; former Garda Frank Mullen and his wife Ellen Mullen; the late Shane O’Farrell

You may recall the case of Cynthia Owen.

Ms Owen has alleged that she was prostituted by her parents to a group of local men, including three local gardaí, in the 1970s.

In January 2016, she posted on her Facebook page photographs of the surviving men alleged by her to have been involved in this abuse. These photographs included former garda Frank Mullen.

In May 2016, Mr Mullen, a founder of the Garda Representative Association and former chairman of Dalkey United football club, gave two interviews to journalist Michael Clifford – for the Irish Examiner and Newstalk. In both interviews, he strenuously denied the allegations.

Ms Owen’s case was included in the Independent Review Mechanism which was set up by the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, in May 2014, to look into 322 cases concerning allegations of Garda misconduct.

The panel included two senior counsel, Conor Devally and Paul Greene, and five junior counsel, Paul Carroll, John Fitzgerald, Tony McGillicuddy, Siobhán Ni Chúlacháin, Karen O’Connor.

On November 4, in a written answer, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said:

“Appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that nothing arises which might in any way detract from the integrity of the review mechanism, including issues of conflict of interest.

Arrangements have been put in place to ensure that if there is any conflict, or potential conflict, the conflicted counsel not only will not be involved in the particular complaint, but also will not be aware of which counsel is reviewing it.”

In 2015, Ms Owen was notified by the Department of Justice that this mechanism recommended no further action be taken in regards to her case.


In The Sunday Times last Sunday Justine McCarthy reported how panel member Conor Devally – who advised Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald not to reopen the inquiry into the case of Cynthia Owen – previously represented former Garda Frank Mullen in a separate, unrelated case.

Ms McCarthy reported:

Department of Justice documents released to Owen via a freedom of information (FoI) request show Conor Devally was the allocated counsel for her case in the independent review mechanism (IRM) set up by Fitzgerald to assess alleged miscarriages of justice.

In July 2015, Devally recommended “no further action be taken” in relation to Owen’s allegations of incest, child rape by a paedophile ring, and suspicious infant deaths. Devally cited time lapsed and lack of evidence among reasons for his advice.

He was one of two senior counsel employed for the IRM. The documents show he was paid €800 for reviewing Owen’s case, after receiving the file in July 2014. A form in the FoI documents records the reply “no” to a question as to whether the counsel had a conflict of interest.

In a High Court case involving a disputed will in 2011, Devally was the senior counsel for Frank Mullen, a retired garda who has denied Owen’s accusations he was involved in her abuse.

Devally said: “I am constrained from speaking about the work of the IRM under the terms of my engagement as a legal adviser to the minister and the department. I am unaware of any conflict that is suggested to you. I was not conscious of any at the time.”

Owen got the department’s file after appealing the department’s refusal to give it to her. “We are not saying Conor Devally was biased but if there is even a perception of bias his report should be set aside,” said Gerry Dunne, Owen’s solicitor.

In 2007, after a jury at the inquest into the death of Noleen Murphy unanimously found she was the child of Cynthia Owen; that she died at the family’s former home in White’s Villas in Dalkey; and that her cause of death was haemorrhage due to stab wounds; Minister for Justice Michael McDowell appointed Patrick Gageby SC to review Ms Owen’s clams.

In 2008, Mr Gageby’s report was delivered to the Minister for Justice.

In it, he advised against a public inquiry, apparently because of the legal difficulties that would be brought about by the serious allegations made against certain people, and because of the amount of time that had elapsed since the death.

It has since emerged that, prior to being appointed to review Ms Owen’s case,  Mr Gageby had publicly called for a limit on the time allowed to elapse between an alleged sex crime and the prosecution of the suspect as there was a danger the accused could not receive a fair trial.

Dalkey review lawyer previously acted for ‘abuser’ (Justine McCarthy, The Sunday Times)


Lucia and Jim O’Farrell with a picture of their late son, Shane

Readers may also recall how the case of Shane O’Farrell was also included in the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM).

The 23-year-old student died in a hit-and-run just outside Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan on August 2, 2011.

The man who struck Shane, Zigimantas Gridzuiska, 39, from Lithuania, had 42 previous convictions in three different jurisdictions and was out on bail at the time.

Shane’s family also raised concerns about SC Conor Devally’s involvement in the IRM, as Mr Devally represented Zigimantas Gridzuiska.

The O’Farrell family were alarmed at Mr Devally’s inclusion given that they would have mentioned Mr Devally as having represented Mr Gridzuiska in correspondence with the Attorney General Máire Whelan and Minister for Justice for 18 months prior to the establishment of the IRM.

The O’Farrell family were told that Mr Devally wouldn’t be involved in the Shane O’Farrell case.

However, readers may wish to note…

In a written answer to Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins on July 16, 2014, the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald said:

Counsel will be paid a fee on a case by case basis of €300, €550 or €800 depending on the complexity of each case. Senior Counsel will additionally have a brief fee of €20,000 to oversee the operation of the mechanism and ensure consistency of approach across all the cases. 

In addition, in a written answer to a PQ by Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, on December 16, 2014, Ms Fitzgerald said:

“Appropriate steps have been taken that nothing arises which might in any way detract from the integrity of the review mechanism, including issues of conflict of interest. Arrangements have been put in place to ensure that if there is any conflict, or potential conflict, the conflicted counsel not only will not be involved in the particular complaint, but also will not be aware of the which counsel is reviewing it.

The order in which cases are dealt with is a matter for Senior Counsel who, in addition to examining individual complaints, are required to advise the Department generally on the management of the process, take a joint lead in allocating cases to Junior Counsel, and jointly oversee recommendations with a view to ensuring as far as possible a consistency of approach.”

Peviously: Refusing To Collude

‘Delay, Deny, Lie Then Cover-Up’

A Dalkey Archive

51 thoughts on ““I Was Not Conscious Of Any Conflict At The Time”

  1. Mourinho

    This is a very serious matter, and broadsheet covers these stories very well.

    However, I’ve no idea what’s going on here.

    Could these articles start with a summary. (Or end with a tl;dr).
    Just an outline, to frame it.

    1. Ronan

      The links at the bottom give you all the context you need, as is the norm for broadsheet with these kinds of posts. Not sure they need to add a preamble to each post also.

    2. Owen C

      the TL:DR is that Broadsheet believes this is another in the long line of 80s era paedophile/child murdering rings that needs to be exposed.

    3. Bodger

      Sorry Mourinho, barrister Conor Devally represented Frank Mullen in a previous case before he was appointed to review the veracity of claims made against Frank Mullen and others in Cynthia Owen’s case.

  2. Cian

    Barrister Conor Devally represented Frank Mullen in a High Court case involving a disputed will in 2011.
    Between May 2014 and 2015 Conor Devally replied “no” to a question as to whether the counsel had a conflict of interest on a case that involved Frank Mullen.

    Did they define what “conflict of interest” means before asking the senior council to sign up?

    I’m not sure that representing someone in “a disputed will case” three years earlier would be deemed a conflict in a sexual assault review.

    1. Andrew

      Well at the very least he knew Frank Mullen and actually represented him. It really doesn’t matter after that what you think.
      That’s a conflict of interest and it’s very, very difficult to understand how Mr.Devally could possibly plead ignorance on this.

      1. Cian

        Where is the conflict of Interest? What was Conor Devally going to gain out of this?

        It is possible that Conor Devally never even talked to Frank Mullen. There was most likely a Junior Council between them. Frank Mullen would have talked to the JC; and the JC to Conor Devally.

        Where do you draw the line? As a Garda, Frank Mullen most likely appeared in court 100s of times trying to secure convictions. In his years there he probably worked with a huge number of lawyers – on both sides of the cases. Would all of those lawyers, and all the judges all have a ‘Conflict of Interest’?

        In an ideal world, Conor Devally should have declared that he was a SC for him in 2011, and let someone else decide if that constituted potential conflict of interest.

        1. Andrew

          You clearly do not understand what conflict of interest means.
          “in an ideal world” No just in the real world and Mr. Devally would have known this all too well.

          1. anne


            It’d sound more believable if he just said “I wasnt conscious..at the time”.

            Great disservice being done to people like Cynthia Owen here. Awful.

    2. Listrade

      “Did they define what “conflict of interest” means before asking the senior council to sign up?”

      They don’t need to, the Law Society has explicit rules on what conflict entails. It would depend on whether Gridzuiska and Mullen are considered existing clients.

        1. anne

          what do you mean “so”? Is this how the younguns speak today..”so”.. what fupping so?

          Where did you get that from so?

          1. Cian

            I’m sorry about my writing. I’ll try that again.

            Listrade, are you saying that under Law Society rules if Gridzuiska and Mullen aren’t consisted existing clients of Conor Devally then he does not have a conflict of interest?

          2. anne

            They have guidelines.

            You made a statement..saying it wasn’t a conflict..why are you asking questions now. Back up what you said or say you don’t know, you pulled it out of your ar*se.

  3. mari maxwell

    The case of Dolores Maxwell, who died a victim of elder abuse in Nov. 2010, was another case included in the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM). It was a complete farce. Gardai refused several times to take a complaint of elder abuse [including one while I was accompanied by the HSE Senior Elder Abuse Caseworker in Oct. 2010, following a highly suspicious & questionable hospitalisation of Dolores Maxwell] A complaint to GSOC and others led nowhere. Now the HSE, as of Jan. 2017, is conducting a “Learning Analysis Review” of its failures into protecting and monitoring Dolores during her final year of isolation – cut off from phone, mobile and visits from her family. The Senior Caseworker later signed off from Dolores’ case noting ‘no evidence of abuse’ following traumatic statements from my youngest sister and her two children who not only witnessed abuse from this son against both my parents, but were also victims themselves. HSE Elder Abuse allowed these troubling statements to be withdrawn. 37 people confirmed Dolores & Cecil Maxwell were under severe duress from their youngest son. Not only were Dolores & Cecil’s solicitors – Beauchamps Solicitors – advised of that duress in 2005, and a conflict of interest in its role representing my parents – they continued to represent all three and failed Dolores Maxwell horribly. There is fraud and crimes on her estate. Beauchamps Solicitors Managing Partner John White & Solicitor Joseph Bowe have themselves resorted to backdating/falsifying letters [ http://www.dolores-maxwell.com/john_white/falsify.php ] yet the DPP, Beauchamps Sols’ partners, chair, indemnity insurer, Law Society and Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal have ignored it all. I had to force Gardai to take my statement, as I am now being defrauded by Beauchamps Solicitors’ in my elderly mother’s estate.

    The systems are all corrupt.

    Please remember Dolores Maxwell and the systemic failures of Irish systems. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15.

    1. cynthia owen

      Hi Mari

      could you email me thanks, I dont seem to have our email, but hopefully you still have mine, hope your well, x

  4. Sheik Yahbouti

    It appears that Mr Gageby (brother of our Chief Justice) is prominent, again, in somewhat murky business. What are we to make of this? Why nothing, nothing at all.

    1. anne

      That didn’t prove to be a conflict of interest either, sister making judgements on the brother’s cases in relation to peados… not like you’d be chatting about it at tea time or anything. Of course not.

  5. Mary Jane

    What Ireland badly needs is an Office of Chief Investigating Magistrate which is separate from the executive branch of Government. The idea that you get retired judges and barristers who are on state panels carrying out reviews and investigations is nonsense.

  6. Frilly Keane

    If there is an risk of Influence
    of any kind
    there exists a Conflict of Interest

    it doesn’t matter if tis the Law Society or the Law Library they pay subs to

    on another note: 20k for an SC!!!!!!
    Christ t’night

    1. Cian

      Can you explain to me what “risk of Influence” there is if a Senior Counsel represented someone 3 years earlier on a completely unrelated matter?

      1. cynthia owen

        Its not about the risk of influence, its about bias or the threat of someone being bias, in the legal world, conflict of interest covers all manners of issues, for example a jury member was struck off the OJ Simpson case because he had cleaned Simpsons windows about 15 years before the court case, and therefore because he cleaned Simpsons windows ONCE there was a risk he could be bias and thats how it works.

        As I said below we are NOT accusing Connor Devally of anything, but in his own words and in the words of the Minister for Justice anyone who had acted for anyone in a previous case, would not be allowed to deal with a Panel Review application if they knew the person involved and in my case Mr Devally KNEW and acted in a High Court Case and in a paid position for Mr Mullen which in the legal world means that he may, and I say “may” have been biased.

        In that position Devally should have declared the conflict of interest which is a standard procedure in the legal world and hence why he was asked on the form “is there a conflict of interest” and he said “no”.

        In the balance of fairness he should have declared the conflict and passed my case to another SC, thats as much as we would have wanted, and given that we were promised thats what would happen. Which clearly didnt.

  7. cynthia owen

    Hi I am Cynthia Owen (thank you Broadsheet for once again a brillant piece) allow me to explain.

    Devally represented Mullen in a paid position in a Civil Matter, NOT as a Garda in a Criminal matter, google Coleman V Mullen, in which Mullen was accused of obtaining a property and money from an old lady under “undue influence”.

    The fact that Devally represented Mullen in a paid position, and then was the SC who dealt with my Panel Review Application in which I cited that I was sexually abused by retired Garda Frank Mullen IS a conflict of interest.

    My solicitor has written to the Dept of Justice and asked for this decision to be set aside, and yes the Minister and Devally both said that where a conflict of interest arises that counsel will be asked to stand aside which clearly did not happen in my case.

    I will post more info in a minute in the effort to help those understand more.

    1. jusayinlike

      Great to hear from you Cynthia, you’re doing brilliant brilliant work, stay strong were all behind you 100%..

  8. cynthia owen

    Hi please see this link

    Mr Devally was asked if there was a conflict of interest when he dealt with my case and he said “NO” but there certainly WAS a conflict of interest because Mr Devally had acted for Mullen in a paid position and Mr Devally failed to declare that conflict of interest in particular as he is on record saying that if a conflict of interest arises it would be declared – (see below).

    Another woman whose case was with the Panel Review, Lucia O’Farrell also declared a conflict of interest with Mr Devally, because he had represented the man who knocked down her son, in the criminal trial. See this article please:

    In a newspaper article about Lucia declaring a conflict of interest, the Dept of Justice were quoted in the article as saying “In a statement, from the Dept of Justice it said there is “an absolute acceptance by the department and by the counsel involved that no counsel can be involved with a complaint if he or she had any prior involvement in it, and there are sufficient counsel on the panel to ensure the practicality of this. Whatever steps are necessary will be taken to ensure there is no conflict of interest. Mr Devally also declined to comment on specific cases, but said: “If any of our number was in a case or advised on a case concerning to a matter complained of in these files, that person will not be reviewing or will not be party to the review in any capacity.

    Mr Devally said this publicly, in an newspaper article and then did NOT declare a conflict of interest in my case.

    The Minister further said in a newspaper interview that. “The counsel are fully aware of and share my concerns that nothing arises which might in any way detract from the integrity of the review mechanism, including issues of conflict of interest,” she said. “There is an absolute acceptance by me and the counsel concerned that if there is any conflict, or potential conflict, that the particular counsel will not be involved in the particular case.”

    She said she was “satisfied that it is not necessary to remove individual counsel from the panel on the grounds that they may have a conflict of interest with and yet we have clear proof that a conflict of interest has now taken place.

    This is my position now, I am in a situation where a SC who represented Mullen for undue influence, then didnt declare a conflict of interest when again dealing with Mullen, who is a retired Garda. It is a clear indication that whatever platform I had available to me to bring Mullen to task, was flawed or unjust or biased.

    Mr Devally dealt with Mr Mullen over a will. Mr Mullen is the named owner of 30 properties. Mr Devally dealt with with my Panel Review case knowing I was making allegations of sexual abuse against Mullen and claiming that he had sold me out as a child to other pedophiles and that I had been asking the Garda for many years to investigate Mullen’s finances to see where a retired Garda would acquire that kind of money.

    Please see this article in which Mullen says he was promised by “Several Supts in Dunleary they would clear him”


    However Mr Devally did criticize the Garda investigations into my case, and said “In relation to the 1994 / 1995 complaints and subsequent investigations that “this investigation was recorded and preserved (by means of paper and otherwise) in a manner which fell short of the standards applicable at the time. Devally went on to say that “In subsequent years when there was cause to look back or review the investigation, this was once again conducted in a manner that falls short of the applicable standards”.

    So although Mr Devally did criticise the Garda investigations, and he read Mr Gageby’s Review which also criticised the Garda investigations, and BOTH of them criticized the 1995 investigation, as well as the 1973 one, neither of them asked to meet with me or for additional information from me, and neither of them despite their criticism saw fit to instruct an inquiry into my case.

    My solicitor has written to the Minister and asked that this decision now be set aside, my case as well as the other 320 Panel Review cases needs a proper Commission to Investigate. That’s what we were led to believe we would be given, but of the 320 cases ONLY 5 were given Commission to Investigate hearings which nearly two years later have not happened and I know some of the families from those cases and they are very unhappy about how they have been treated.

    GSOC were asked to look at 21 of the Panel Review cases, 15 of them are still “open” nearly two years later, dragging out the victims’ anguish, and the rest were “unfounded”.

    We all feel let down, and betrayed and unheard.

    Hope this explains the situation a bit more, I was supposed to be doing an hour long interview with Broadsheet this week but was postponed following the events of last week concerning Dara Quigley’s death

    Thank you Broadsheet for your constant support and for giving me the voice my children and I, and my siblings who ended their lives because no one would listen, need.

    1. Zena

      Keep going Cynthia, you are such a strong and powerful woman and you are such a positive influence to others that have been so mistreated in childhood to fight on xxx

  9. cynthia owen

    Thank you jussayinlike means a lot, I want to be clear though that we are not accusing Connor Devally SC of anything, we are just highlighting the fact that this Panel Review and its integrity has to be looked at again and called into question, so many of us were so let down by it, having waiting a year for the decision which we were told would take 8 weeks, and to think that some of the families who got the letter the same day I did. 15th Dec 2015, are still waiting. Its a disgraceful way to treat victims and in particular those of us like my good friend Mari Maxwell above and Emma Kelly sister of John Kelly and others who lost loved ones, it adds to the torment that we are still fighting all these years later. When we should be left in peace to mourn our loved ones.

    1. jusayinlike

      Cynthia, do you believe the Mason’s lodge in Dalkey to be complicit in some of your allegations?

  10. mari maxwell

    Thanks so much Sindy for the mention and good to see/hear you. Without Broadsheet, there is no Irish media which leaves many of us seeking justice abandoned. There are horrific shortcomings in so many Irish bodies, until you travel this route you’ve no idea of the levels of corruption and lack of accountability. Elsewhere these perps would be jailed and still serving time. My mother died a victim of elder abuse under harrowing and horrific circumstances in Nov. 2010. It’s only been 7 years, yet crimes continue in her estate. Her solicitors, Beauchamps Solicitors’ managing Partner John White & Solicitor Joseph Bowe both provided me with two different versions of backdated/falsified letters. They were provided to me in 2014! That’s three years ago. I fought the Gardai, superintendents and others – many times – to file a complaint against Beauchamps who are defrauding me. But the DPP, Law Society, Beauchamps and its chair, partners and indemnity insurers turn their gaze. The public is not only at risk from my youngest brother but also this firm! I stand by my experiences at their utter incompetence and failure to provide professional legal services to my mom and dad, never mind me as a beneficiary in her estate. They should be struck off! The corruption, crimes and coverups continue in dear old Eire. Make no mistake about that. Nothing has changed. Cynthia Owen is fighting a battle for decades here. Super human efforts for basic human rights. As are many others like Emma Kelly sister of John Kelly, the tragic case of Shane O’Farrell whose mother also fights for justice and Catherine Delaney McCormack and many, many more of the 321 and others as yet remaining silent.

    So yes the panel review was warped from day one. The only ones benefiting are those who were paid as part of the review – the legal eagles.

  11. cynthia owen

    Hi Mari can you email me thanks?

    Yes we are all still fighting, and my two brothers one of whom there was TEN different allegations against of sexual abuse is still free enjoying his life, in Sligo, because he had too much on the cops so he would have brought them all down with him.

    Mr Mullen himself a football coach with Dalkey UTD for over 50 years was left in Dalkey UTD for over 10 years after my allegations, despite the fact that the Garda should have notified Social Services of the risk he and the other men posed, under the Childrens First Guidelines, the Garda (namely the main cop over my case at Dunleary who was friends with my father while he was investigating my father, and was friends with the three retired cops who abused me, they all drank together and knew each other for years.

    Well this cop, did not notify Social Services and deliberately left kids at Dalkey UTD who Mullen had direct contact with, and there was over 200 of them, at risk. I had to notify Social Services myself, who deemed me to be credible, but because of the laws/procedures in Ireland the 6 men refused to cooperate with Social Services and they couldnt do a thing about it.

    Now we see the Football scandal in UK of Football coaches, and I have been telling Garda at Dunleary for years that Mullen sold me out and made money from it, and that he was taking groups of young boys to Manchester for years. I have asked them and GSOC to investigate where he made his money, a retired Guard with 6m???????????

    And of course not forgetting my father who was a pensioner of 82 when he died, but found the money to pay for not one, but for four lots of a full legal team in the Inquest, he paid his bill and my three siblings bills, to be legally represented. At an estimated cost of around 50,000e and then died the following year and left 100,000e, to my four older siblings who lied for him and protected him, despite the fact he abused two of their own kids. And those two kids had made Garda statements against my father, why would two people support a man who had abused their own children?

    Again the Garda have been asked to access my parents bank accounts and to bring the Criminal Assests Bureau into this, to see where all this money came from and just WHO was paying my parents and siblings for their silence? Who indeed?????

  12. cynthia owen

    Jusaying as regards your question about the Masons in Dalkey, I cannot comment, but….. Mullen was “King of Dalkey” several times, have a read of the below link:

    I once asked someone in the early 80’s “How do they decide who the King is” and I was told “Whoever pays the most money”.

    Dalkey was a cesspit of corruption and pedophile rings where cops acted like thugs and beat and bullied young boys, my own brothers included where if you knew the right person or should I say the right cop, he would lose your fine or speeding ticket for a pint in the pub. And where you could have anything sorted out once you knew the right person.

    Another of the men who abused me a Garda, was in the “Heavy Gang – or the murder squad as we knew it in the 70’s, they were disbanded because of their appalling behavior in the Kerry Babies case. (There is a book by Nell McCafferty about the Kerry Babies).

    I have been often ridiculed because I made allegations of ritual abuse by these men, and yet here we have a man dressing as a king – wearing a cloak – and being taken to Dalkey Island to be “crowned the King of Dalkey” doesnt sound so far fetched after all!


    1. jusayinlike

      Thank you Cynthia, I would imagine he’s a mason.. with all the legal eagles and journos rallying around him it has to be part of some sort of network..

    2. Brother Barnabas

      Fair play, Cynthia. You’re an extraordinary woman. You’ll get your due one day. Stay strong.

    3. Kenny U-Vox Plank

      Are you seriously equating the joke position of the King of Dalkey – part of a huge pissup frankly – with a secret Masonic sect along the lines of Italian’s P2? Perhaps King Puck of Puck Fair is in it too?


      1. Bodger

        Cynthia, don’t mind Kenny. He knows the situation perfectly well but needs to distract us and belittle you. Like Frank Mullen attempted to do in his interviews with Michael Clifford.

  13. Cynthia Owen

    No actually I’m not Ken U Vox

    I was simply saying that some of the men who organised that festival were up to all sorts mainly involving money and used it to bolster thier egos as in Mullen who literally had people bowing down to him in the street he used it to bolster his self importance.

    But two others were also paedos one of them the church clerk now dead Desire Swords up to 14 other victims came forward about him he was also a basketball coach – another one also dead and who was a football coach.

    Other than that I haven’t a clue what your talking about Ken U Vox

  14. Cynthia Owen

    Sorry forgot to mention that Dessie Swords was such a “holy” man he’s actually buried in Lourdes.

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