Tag Archives: Fr Niall Molloy

From top: Richard Flynn, the only person charged with the death of Father Niall Molloy; ‘Burning Heresies’ by Kevin Myers

‘[my partner] Grania and I were invited to the Westmeath Hunt Ball in Mullingar and later we left for a house party.

We were welcomed by a tall handsome man in a dress suit, whose lordly hospitality was tinged with a patrician charm.

His very attractive wife served the drinks. I retired to bed around four. Grania got up at seven, along with most of the household, for the hunting field. I lay unconscious until Midday, then rose. There was just one person remaining when I trickled downstairs.

‘Hello, I’m Richard Flynn,’ the man said affably.

‘Forgive me, there were so many people last night – you are…?’

‘I’m your host. I own the place.’

‘Sorry, I’m a little confused. Who was the fellow serving the drinks?’

‘That was Father Molloy.’

Father? You mean he’s a priest?’

‘And a family friend.’

Richard cooked me brunch and chatted about his life. He had been a farmer, but had contracted brucellosis, and so, unable to be near cattle, had gone into business, at which he had been remarkable successful. I asked him how the illness had affected him.

‘Aches all over, a terrible lassitude, which I have to fight every single day.’

I did not ask about the third symptom, impotence, and our conversation affably toured the world until the hunting party returned. I liked Richard enormously, so much so that we stayed in touch, and I visited him a couple of times at his auto spare shop in Blackrock, county Dublin.

A few months later, after a wedding party for one of the flynn daughters, Father Niall Molloy was found beaten to death in the Flynns’ bedroom. Richard was charged with assault and manslaughter. The case went before Judge Frank Roe, who ordered the jury to acquit, and Richard walked free. Personally, I felt happy for him, though justice had clearly not been done.

It was later alleged that Roe had been a friend of the Flynns, but I doubt whether any Irish judge would have accepted a case that could have so fatally compromised him. However, Roe was an ardent Catholic who would probably have done his utmost to protect the ‘good name’ of the Catholic Church, a term which had not yet become risible. The clearly sexual nature between Niall Molloy and Teresa Flynn might have been exposed in any trial, which Roe was apparently determined to forestall.

It was in Charlie Haughey’s imperishably worthless aphorism, an Irish solution to an Irish problem.’

Kevin Myers, Burning Heresies; A memoir of a life in Conflict 1979-2020 (Merrion Press) chapter 12.

The Killing Of Father Molloy (RTÉ)

Previously: Fr Molloy on Broadsheet


From top: today’s GSOC report into complaint of the Garda initial investigation into the death of Fr Niall Molloy in Clara, County Offaly on July 8. 1985

Almost thirty three years to the day Fr Niall Molloy was killed following an attack at a society wedding party in County Offaly, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has published its report into a complaint of the initial Gardaí investigation.

Fr Niall’s relatives have considered the case a cover-up since he was pronounced dead on July 8, 1985 and renewed their campaign when medical evidence suggested the priest may have lived for up to six hours following his attack.

Documents on the case held by the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] were among a cache of files stolen by Martin Cahill. They revealed the presiding judge, who had dismissed all charges in the manslaughter trial, was a close friend of the defendant and many of the wedding guests, including Brian Lenihan Snr.


A significant amount of material from the original garda investigation from 1985 was provided to GSOC, along with the opportunity to inspect documents in the possession of the gardaí.

It was established that a Senior Investigating Officer was still assigned to the file and the case is classified as “open” in light of the fact that no one has been successfully prosecuted for the death of Fr. Molloy.

However it became apparent during the GSOC investigation that many original documents including exhibits are missing.

There appears to be no record of handling of exhibits, and as such the person responsible for their loss cannot be identified.

The Senior Investigating Office in the gardaí involved with the Molloy investigation endeavoured to find the missing exhibits including searching the Forensic Science Laboratory. By the end of the GSOC investigation the exhibits remained missing.

A review of the original investigation and discussions with gardaí currently tasked with the case confirmed that members of the original team were retired [GSOC Is permitted from interviewing retired Gardai]

The original State Pathologist, Dr John Harbison, is also deceased. This led to the conclusion that, having reached this stage, GSOC was precluded under the 2005 Act from proceeding further with the investigation of Mr. McCourt’s complaint.

There you go now.

A Report following a complaint made by Mr. Henry McCourt, nephew of the late Fr. Niall Molloy who died on the 8th of July 1985 in Clara, County Offaly (GSOC)

Previously: Fr Niall Molloy on Broadsheet


 Fr Niall Molloy

In the 31 years since the death of Fr Niall Molloy many journalists – Veronica Guerin, Gene Kerrigan, Justine McCarthy and Gemma O’Doherty among them – have sought to make sense of what happened that night in Clara, Co. Offaly in July, 1985.

But with each apparent breakthrough comes disappointment for the Molloy family.

The reason being that this cover-up involves not just gardai, the church, judiciary and the medical profession but, perhaps uniquely in a scandal of this nature, upper echelons of both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

This has arguably ensured that even now, when many of those who were there that night have passed away, the cover-up persists.

To mark the anniversary of Fr Niall’s death, we have compiled a timeline covering the night he died and the subsequent efforts to find him justice. We will correct/amend any errors/omissions.

July 6, 1985: Maureen Flynn marries Ralph Parkes, from Limerick, in the church at Clara, Co. Offaly.

The reception – attended by, among others, Fianna Fáil’s Brian Lenihan Snr – is held in a marquee at nearby Kilcoursey House hosted by the bride’s parents, Richard and Therese Flynn.

Family friend Fr Niall Molloy – known as Fr Niall – who has been close friends with the couple for many years, and had a bedroom in their house – does not officiate at the wedding, but arrives during the reception and is seated at the top table.

July 7, 1985: Fr Niall leaves for Kilcoursey to attend an afternoon lunch at Kilcoursey hosted by Richard and Teresa Flynn. Caterers arrive to set up the meal but leave at or around the time the guests start arriving, at 2pm.

Until 3.15am, the next morning, when Fr Niall’s death is formally reported to the Gardaí, the only record of events is to be found in the statements of the Flynn family, the parish priest of Clara, Fr Jim Deignan, and the local doctor, Dr O’Sullivan, the contents of which may be summarised below.

According to the Flynn family, all guests leave by 7pm. According to Therese and Richard, they then drive with Fr Niall to the house of a neighbour, Douglas Goodbody, for a drink, arriving back at Kilcoursey between 9pm and 10pm.

Ann Flynn and Maureen Parkes – who had remained to look after Richard Flynn’s elderly aunt May Quinn, who lived with the Flynns – leaves to join other young guests at White’s Pub in Clara.

May Quinn goes to bed at midnight, in a room at the other end of the corridor from the Flynns’ bedroom, and claims to know nothing of what had occurred until she wakes the next morning – other than the fact that Fr Molloy was alive at midnight, when she met him on her way to get a bedtime drink from the kitchen.

According to Richard and Therese, they sit and chat downstairs with Fr Niall until midnight, when – at Richard’s suggestion – they move to the bedroom to continue their chat over a nightcap. Subsequently, Therese goes to bed and takes a sleeping tablet.

She remembers waking and finding her husband in bed with her and Fr Niall sitting at the end of the bed, chatting. The next thing she remembers is finding herself on the floor next to Fr Niall, who is dead.

According to Richard Flynn, a row had broken out between himself, his wife and Fr Niall as to who should go down to get more drink, in the course of which Flynn hit his wife, and also hit Fr Molloy a couple of times. He left the room to phone the parish priest, Jim Deignan, and a doctor, and when he returned Fr Niall was dead.

According to his own account, Fr Deignan arrives at Kilcoursey at approximately 1.30am. He then administers the Last Rites to Fr Niall before returning home briefly. There are differing accounts of why he returned home. He himself says that it was because he had forgotten his reading glasses. However, Ralph Parkes stated that Fr Deignan told him that he had returned home to check to see if he had the correct phone number for the local doctor.

Fr Deignan’s return to Kilcoursey is noted in the Flynn family statements as occurring at 1am, coinciding with the return from David Flynn’s house of Maureen and Ralph Parkes, Zandra and Anita Flynn and two family friends, Denis and Marie Hoctor. Ralph Parkes says that he subsequently phoned David Flynn, who came over with his wife, Ann.

Contact is also made with a local doctor, Dr Daniel O’Sullivan, although again different accounts exist as to both the exact time of this contact and the particular family member who made the contact. Although Dr O’Sullivan is the family doctor, he lives 15 minutes away while another doctor, Doctor Corboy, lives only 5 minutes away. Dr O’Sullivan is friendly with Richard Flynn and the two men had previously discussed going into the hotel business together.

1.45am: O’Sullivan is seen leaving for Kilcoursey by an independent witness. He subsequently gives evidence that when he arrived at Kilcoursey he was told by Richard that Fr Molloy came into his bedroom some time after an argument downstairs. Flynn says that he fell after being hit by Fr Molloy and then got up and hit him himself. According to Dr O’Sullivan, Fr Niall’s body was still warm when he arrived and Therese Flynn was in a state of hysteria. Before leaving the house, he calls an ambulance and accepts Fr Deignan’s word that Molloy is dead.

3.15am: Fr Deignan arrives at Tullamore Garda Station and reports Fr Molloy’s death to Sergeant Kevin Forde, implying that the death was accidental, but that it was important to keep it quiet because of the scandal. Around the same time, Therese Flynn, accompanied by Maureen, arrives at and is admitted to Tullamore General Hospital.

3.30am: Sgt Forde arrives at Kilcoursey and is taken by Dr O’Sullivan to view Fr Molloy’s corpse, which is lying face upwards just inside the door of Richard and Therese Flynn’s bedroom. The body is fully clothed with a shirt pulled out at the back. There is a towel over the face and there is blood on the face. The lip is burst and there is a cut on the lower left jaw.

There is a large bloodstain between the body and the bed. There is also blood on the floor around the bed, on the bedclothes, which are in a state of disarray, and on two wall pictures directly above the body. Blood is also found on the bannisters. Dr O’Sullivan identifies Fr Niall to Sgt Forde and says he has been dead for ‘a couple of hours’.

Sgt Forde is then taken downstairs to meet Richard Flynn who is wearing nightclothes. Mr Flynn states that he struck his wife with his left hand and hit Fr Niall at least twice with his right hand.

4.25am: Inspector Tom Monaghan arrives at Kilcoursey and is again told by Richard Flynn: ‘I’m the culprit’. Flynn denies having encountered his wife and Fr Molloy in a compromising position and says that the the row was over drink.

7.30am: Solicitor Liam Lysaght arrives at Kilcoursey after having travelled down from Dublin.

12.00pm: Lysaght tells Monaghan that Richard Flynn will not be making a statement.

1.47pm: Fr Niall’s corpse is identified by Canon Patrick Murray and examined by Chief State Pathologist John Harbison. Harbison describes the body as lying on its back approximately three feet from the saddle of the door of the main bedroom with the trunk at an angle of approximately forty-five degrees to the partition wall between the bedroom and the adjoining bathroom.

The body is described as fully clothed with a tweed jacket lying on the floor adjacent to the feet. There is white froth on the mouth and an injury to the left side of the upper lip and to the angle of the lower jaw on the left cheek. In addition to the large blood stain on the floor and the disordered bed mentioned by Forde, Harbison notes an area around the bed where clothes, male and female, are scattered.

2.30pm: Fr Niall’s corpse is removed to Tullamore General Hospital where Harbison carries out a full post-mortem examination identifying six different areas of injury to Fr Niall’s head as well as bruising to his legs. His report states that there was no injury of a defensive or offensive nature on the arms or hands.

The heart and and surrounding tissue are found to be healthy, and the blood alcohol level within the limits of normal social interaction. On sectioning the brain, traumatic sub-arachnoid haemorrhage is found. Harbison concludes that Fr Niall died of “acute brain swelling and acute sub-dural haemorrhage, both resulting from multiple injuries to the face and neck, principally to the face”. Harrison concludes that the time of death was a period, “late on the night of the July 7or very early in the hours of the  July 8.”

A subsequent survey of the bedroom and house, carried out by Gardaí, identifies blood spatters and smears throughout the bedroom and on a towel in the bathroom opposite. Downstairs, the glass top of a coffee table in the television room appears to have been recently broken. There are no traces of blood downstairs.

Later that afternoon, Fr Niall’s brother William Molloy arrives at Kilcoursey, accompanied by two priests. Richard Flynn tells him that he hit Fr Niall in the course of a political row.

July 15, 1985: Fr Niall’s niece is told by solicitors Fair and Murtagh about an arrangement between Fr Niall and the Flynns in 1984 whereby Fr Molloy was to purchase land at Kilcoursey. The sale fell through because Land Commission consent was not forthcoming, but Fr Niall’s deposit of £11,000 was retained by the Flynns.

Lysaght provides statements to the Gardaí on behalf of the Flynn family.

July 19, 1985: Inspector Monaghan seeks to interview Richard Flynn in relation to his financial transactions with Fr Niall. Mr Flynn refuses to talk without his solicitor.

July 23, 1985: Inspector Monaghan interviews Therese Flynn who tells him that she had repaid Fr Nialls deposit two months prior to his death from money kept by her in a safe in the house. Gardaí later established that there was no safe in Kilcoursey House.

July 31, 1985: The Garda file in respect of Fr Niall’s death is forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Eamon Barnes.

August 20, 1985: Barnes directs that Richard Flynn be prosecuted for manslaughter and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

December, 1985: A son is born to Ralph and Maureen Parkes.

February 27, 1986: It is reported that Richard Flynn has opted for trial in Dublin. The trial will be held before Judge Frank Roe, recently appointed President of the Circuit Court, a former jockey and well known in equestrian circles. According to Fr Niall’s nephew Bill Maher, Judge Roe knew both the Flynns and FrNiall.

June 12, 1986: Richard Flynn’s trial for manslaughter and assault takes place in the Dublin Circuit Court. After hearing the prosecution case, Judge Roe directs a nolle prosequi in respect of all charges against Richard Flynn on the basis that the cause of death has been insufficiently proved.

Judge Roe said that the trio had been friends for 30 years and that this was not the first time friends had struck each other blows but that it was “unlucky” that it led to a death. He also said that because this “great tragedy” had taken place in a couple’s bedroom and had given rise to much publicity and “unpleasant talk”, he was taking the “unusual but not improper” step of declaring that there had not been “an iota of evidence” to suggest that there was anything improper in the relationship between Fr Niall and the Flynns. This relationship in fact had been “perfectly proper, so proper he went into the friend’s bedroom”.

July 8, 1986: It is reported that a watch, found on Fr Niall’s corpse and subsequently handed back to his family, had stopped at 10.40pm.

July 9, 1986: Brian Lenihan’s son Conor writes an article in The Irish Press praising Judge Roe for his judicial skills.

July 23, 1986: The Garda file in respect of Fr Niall’s death is handed over to his relatives.

July 24-26, 1986: The inquest into Fr Niall’s death takes place following a last-minute withdrawal by Coroner Patrick Grealy due to laryngitis. His place is taken by Brian Mahon, Deputy Coroner and son of District Justice Seamus Mahon. Both Richard and Therese give evidence at the inquest along the lines of the statements furnished by Lysaght.

When asked by counsel for the Fr Molloy family if he was swinging or aiming punches, Mr Flynn replies: “I was protecting myself. I was attacked by Fr Molloy… Vicious.”

Mr Flynn said that when he refused to get the next drink his wife and Fr Niall both”‘went for him” and he struck both of them in the face with his fists. He then suffered a memory lapse until he saw them both lying on the floor.

Although Richard Flynn says that he only struck Fr Niall two to three times, pathologist John Harbison gives evidence that Fr Niall had been struck at least five to six times, probably with a fist, although under cross-examination at the earlier trial he had conceded that some injuries could have been sustained by falling against a hard object.

Richard Flynn also denies the evidence of Dr O’Sullivan that he had been told by Mr Flynn that an argument had developed downstairs. Contradicting the view of Judge Roe, that the cause of death had been insufficiently proved, the inquest jury held that Fr Niall  had died from a brain haemorrhage caused by serious injuries to the head.

Subsequently, Richard and Therese Flynn’s son, David, said the family wished to offer sympathy to the Molloy family, saying: “We have been through a very difficult time over the past year and it was made more difficult because we knew things and could not explain them before now.”

Later that year, Fr Niall’s brother William receives an anonymous letter from a person claiming to have worked as a waiter at the lunch the day after the wedding. This person states that a row broke out downstairs earlier in the day as a result of which Fr Molloy was injured.

Therese Flynn took him upstairs to recover and a further row broke out in which Fr Niall was killed. Subsequently William Molloy receives a further anonymous letter in which it is alleged that Fr Niall bled to death as a result of an operation and that his killer was someone other than Richard Flynn.

May 24, 1987: William Molloy dies.

August 29-31, 1987: Martin Cahill steals a number of files, including the Fr Niall file, from the DPP’s office. In his book, The General: Godfather of Crime, Paul Williams later wrote of the theft, saying:

“Included in the files were documents on a number of Garda corruption cases and the file on the controversial death in 1986 of wealthy midland priest, Fr Niall Molloy. Officially, 145 files were stated to have been taken, but some underworld sources have since claimed the number was over three hundred.”

October 20, 1987: A report from pathologist Dermot Hourihane suggests that Fr Niall may have died from kicks rather than blows of the fist and survived for some time after being hit.

November, 1987: The Revenue Commissioners register judgments totalling £126K against Richard Flynn for unpaid taxes on three businesses in Athlone, including Therese’s coffee shop. The shop subsequently closes down.

April, 1988: The sum of £13,000 in damages is awarded against Richard Flynn in Tullamore Circuit Court in respect of the loss caused to Fr Niall’s family by his death. It is reported that Fr Niall insured his life prior to his death in favour of Therese Flynn, described on the policy as his sister and that, following his death, a claim was made on the policy by letter written on Kilcoursey House notepaper. In an exclusive interview with the Irish Independent, Therese Flynn tearfully denies having made any such claim. Her son David Flynn, also asked about the claim, has no comment to make.

October 6, 1988: Fr Niall’s nephew and administrator of his estate Ian Maher requests re-opening of the investigation into his death.

December, 1990 – January, 1991: A fire occurs in the offices of the Offaly County Coroner. Thank-you cards to the Coroner from the Molloy family are destroyed but the main inquest file is left intact.

December, 1992: The Garda file on Fr Niall’s death is returned to Gardaí by Martin Cahill in a Dunnes Stores shopping bag.

March, 1993: Liam Lysaght is censured and fined by the High Court, on foot of a Law Society Disciplinary Committee finding, that he wrongfully denied having acted for a partnership involving Fr Molloy and Therese Flynn.

August, 1993: Therese Flynn dies.

October 16, 1994: An article by Veronica Guerin in the Sunday Independent claims that the Garda file on the death of Fr Niall contains a letter from Judge Frank Roe to the DPP Eamon Barnes confirming his knowledge of all parties in the case.

2000: Fr Niall’s nephew and personal representative Ian Maher dies at 52.

2003:  Judge Frank Roe dies. His obituary in The Irish Times states:

“[h]e came from a staunch Fine Gael family and his political sympathies were always well known. He was described as ‘strong Fine Gael’ this week by those who knew him, and he was active in Fine Gael politics for most of his legal career.”

October 23, 2010: An article by Gemma O’Doherty in the Irish Independent raises concerns about the investigation into Fr Molloy’s death and the trial of Richard Flynn.

November 25, 2011: David Flynn is questioned on a voluntary basis as part of the re-opened Garda Serious Crime Review Team’s investigation into Fr Molloy’s death on foot of Ms O’Doherty’s article. In the course of this questioning he agrees that, after 1985, his relationship with his mother changed from mother and son to a purely business arrangement. He also describes the relationship between his mother and Fr Niall as closer than most married couples.

November 9, 2012: David Flynn reverts about the coffee table downstairs stating that his sister had informed him that it had been broken either during the wedding or shortly afterwards by a 12-year-old boy.

March 1, 2013: The Garda Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT) publishes its report into the death of Fr Molloy. The report examined the original investigation and concludes that all guests at the wedding on July 6, 1985, should have been identified and interviewed; that house-to-house inquiries should have been conducted; and that a burglary at Fr Molloy’s home shortly before his death should have been properly investigated.

It also concludes that Fr Molloy’s wristwatch should not have been returned to the Molloy family without a proper investigation of its condition. The report also expresses concern that the gardaí had not sought the opinion of Dr Michael Farrell, a consultant neuropathologist, at an early stage. The report finds no evidence to prove Judge Roe sent any letters to the DPP. There were no such letters on file and no witness who saw the alleged correspondence could be found. It also finds no evidence that politicians were present on the night of Fr Molloy’s death.

October 15, 2013: Journalist Maresa Fagan, in the Roscommon Herald, reports:

Senator [Terry] Leyden indicated that he had recently raised the Fr Molloy case with Minister Michael Noonan, who had been Minister for Justice at the time of the Castlecoote priest’s death.

The Fianna Fail Senator revealed that Minister Noonan had registered some concerns about the case with the Secretary General of the Department of Justice some time after Fr Molloy’s death.

“He was told by a TD from Laois/Offaly at the time that no-one ever will stand trial for this murder. I won’t name that person now but the Minister told me himself. He was so concerned he went to the Secretary General of the Department of Justice to report what was said to him,” Senator Leyden said.

February 2014: Dominic McGinn, SC, is appointed to review the contents of the report of the SCRT relating to the Garda investigation into the death of Fr Niall.

April 2014: Dominic McGinn, SC, finds that the length of time passed and the death of key witnesses means that an inquiry would be unlikely to establish the truth into the death of Fr Molloy.

At p100 to 102 of his report, McGinn agrees with the SCRT regarding deficiencies in the original investigation and draws attention to the absence of any statement on file from Lysaght, despite the fact that he had been interviewed in relation to the significant financial difficulties which had arisen between the parties.

He also notes that notwithstanding the fact that blood samples were taken from the scene and from members of the Flynn family, that various items were taken from the house, that numerous fingerprints were located, and that all of these samples and findings were transmitted to the State forensic science laboratory, there is a complete absence on the file of any record of scientific testing of the samples.

The McGinn Report makes reference to an interview carried out by the SCRT with C, an employee of the Flynns living in Kilcoursey. According to C, he was out at a disco for the evening of the 7th July 1986 and only returned at 3am the following morning, when he was informed of Molloy’s death.

C denied assertions that there were more people in the house at the time of Molloy’s death. Separately in the report, it is noted that C moved to another place of residence for a number of weeks after Fr Niall’s death and was very upset and crying when he arrived.

The McGinn Report also includes interviews with two friends of Ralph Parkes who were staying with David and Ann Flynn in Tober House.

They did not return to Kilcoursey House on the night of the 7th and left Tober House for the airport in the early hours of the July 8 without ‘appreciating what had happened’.

April 12, 2015: It is reported that a new witness – described as a local man with direct knowledge of events – came forward and told Gardai in August 2012 that Molloy was attacked downstairs in the house.

It was decided, the witness claimed, “having taken legal advice by telephone, that the considerable amount of people who were present at the time should all leave the premises.”

Fr Niall was then “carried upstairs to the Flynns’ bedroom and left to die over a period of hours.”

Sources: Court and inquest documents and RTÉ, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Times, The Irish Independent, The Irish Daily Mail, Newstalk; Magill magazine; The Irish Press and Evening Press; Evening Herald, The Sunday World, Sunday Independent; The Times Ireland edition, The Sunday Times Ireland edition and Irish Newspaper Archives

Previously: Fr Niall Molloy on Broadsheet


From top: Fr Niall Molloy; This week’s Roscommon Herald

Crime scene images of the bloodied body of Fr Niall Molloy may be made public in an effort to re-open the case.

They show Fr Niall on the floor of Richard and Theresa Flynn’s home with wounds to his face and pools of blood surrounding his body. And appear to contradict several witness statement made in the aftermath of the 1985 death.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald was given copies of the photos last year but has made no further contact with Fr Molloy’s family.

Roscommon Herald

Previously: Fr Niall Molloy on Broadsheet

Thanks William Maher


Fr Niall Molloy

The family of Fr Niall Molloy will meet the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald tomorrow – almost 30 years to the day since the priest’s death.

Fr Niall was killed in bizarre and unresolved circumstances at Kilcoursey House, Clara, Co Offaly on July 8, 1985.

Fr Niall’s nephews Bill Maher and Henry McCourt will discuss the government-commissioned review released in March.

While it recommended no further inquiry into the case as the passage of time “made it impractical” it also disclosed fresh anomalies in the case.

This will be the first time relatives of Fr Niall have met a serving Minister for Justice. All previous requests were refused..

Previously: Fr Niall Molloy on Broadsheet

mmolloyFr Niall Molloy

Following the publication of the McGinn review of the investigation onto the 1985 violent death of Fr Niall Molloy which highlighted  shortcomings in the initial Garda investigation.

Via Justice for Fr Niall Molloy:

The family of Fr Niall Molloy is taking a case for ‘neglect of duty’ against the Gardai for failing to properly investigate the death of the Roscommon priest 30 years ago.

Relatives of the murdered priest plan to a complain to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) over serious shortcomings in the initial 1985 investigation, which they have described as “botched” and “shambolic”.

The shortcomings were identified by the Garda’s own Serious Crime Review Team, which re-examined the unsolved killing of the 52-year-old cleric between 2010 and 2013.

“We have carefully considered the findings of the McGinn report and the serious shortcomings identified in the initial Garda investigation, which we believe cannot now be ignored by the Garda Ombudsman,” Henry McCourt, a nephew of Fr Molloy’s, said.

“The McGinn report has only confirmed our long held opinion that the initial investigation in 1985 was botched at best and we intend to make a complaint for neglect of duty to the Garda Ombudsman.”

Family members were previously advised that they were outside the permitted time period to make a complaint. This time, however, the family believes that the McGinn findings arm them with certain new facts to take a case against Gardai.

“Based on what the McGinn report has found and other official documentation that has come to our attention we’re going to make a fresh complaint to the Garda Ombudsman, which has some discretion to consider complaints relating to cases that are more than 12 months old,” Bill Maher, another nephew of Fr Molloy’s, said.

“We have no doubt that Gardai did not investigate Fr Niall’s death properly. The shortcomings identified are so basic that we’re left wondering was it pure incompetence on the part of Gardai or has there been a cover-up,” he added.

Mr Maher said that Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan should also clarify comments that the McGinn report would bring “some comfort” to the family.

“We are confounded and deeply upset by the Garda Commissioner’s remarks. How could this report, which shows such flagrant failings in basic policing, bring us any comfort?” Mr Maher said.

Previously: The McGinn Report : A Conclusion

Previously: Fr Molloy on Broadsheet


No scary music!

No reconstructions!!

An Olivia O’Leary-helmed RTÉ Today Tonight special from 1987 on the death of Fr Niall Molloy  answering some of the questions left out of the recent McGinn review into the case.

Includes: A detailed look at the business dealings between Fr Molloy and Therese Flynn and her husband Richard Flynn.

The matter of the stopped watch and the gardai.

And what defence counsel counsel Paddy McEntee (top) said to Judge Frank Roe (above) prior to Richard Flynn’s acquittal on manslaughter charges.

Good times.

Also: name that reporter anyone?

Previously: Fr Niall Molloy Report: A Conclusion

enda kennyTaoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil yesterday


During Leader’s Questions in the Dáil Clare Daly challenged  Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the McGinn review of the Serious Crime Team’s report into the investigation of the death of Fr Niall Molloy in Roscommon in 1985.

The report acknowledges problems with many aspects of the case but asserts that the priests’ death warrants no further investigation.

Deputy Clare Daly:, “[last week] Deputy [Mick] Wallace tried to jolt the Taoiseach’s memory regarding his inaction on problems with senior gardaí in the Athlone area. Little did we know that at the very same time representatives of the Department of Justice and Equality were in the process of contacting the family of Fr. Niall Molloy, thereby giving them less than one hour’s notice that the Minister for Justice and Equality was about to publish the outcome of the McGinn report into their uncle’s murder.
For four months she sat on a report that, let us remember, was a paper review of a Garda review of a Garda investigation. The Minister later acknowledged that the report identified unanswered questions and serious shortcomings in the investigation but concluded that it was too long ago and we will never find out the truth.Of course, she did not admit that the report’s terms of reference were preordained to have that outcome.
Mr. McGinn himself indicated that his task was not to establish the truth, or even venture an opinion about the truth; it was simply to identify issues of public importance or concern that might warrant further investigation. In other words, the truth is out there somewhere but we are not going to bother getting to it.”
In fairness to Mr. McGinn, he raised a number of issues, such as the fact that the Garda failed to identify and interview witnesses and neighbours; the fact that a statement was not taken from the solicitor whom Niall Molloy consulted shortly before his death in regard to his financial problems with the Flynns; the lack of forensic analysis of blood and fingerprint samples taken at the scene of the crime; and, critically, the important fact that the opinion of Professor Michael Farrell, the expert neuropathologist to whom John Harbison deferred, was not sought.
Dr. Farrell’s opinion confirmed that Niall Molloy took between three and six hours to die. In other words, as Mr. McGinn indicated, the account given by Richard and Therese Flynn was not accurate. Mr. McGinn went on to note that the review did not say how it happened. Such information could only be ascertained by an independent commission of investigation, as recommended by the serious crime review.”

Enda Kenny: “The Minister has confirmed that she will shortly commence writing to the members of the families concerned in regard to the report of the legal team once it has assessed all of these cases. Fr. Molloy is deceased and nothing we say in this House will bring him back. The Government considered and accepted the McGinn report in the last several weeks, after it was presented to the Minister. She has confirmed that she will commence the process of informing the families about the cases referred to her Department and my Department, in respect of which a legal team was appointed to analyse the issues arising. Many of them have been considered at various levels over the years. I do not know the details of the responses that will issue in respect of these cases because I have not seen the report of the legal team.”

Daly: “The information to which I have access is contained in the Official Report of the Dáil. I presume that if the Minister for Justice and Equality was in contact with the Taoiseach, she would have told him what she has stated on the public record, namely, that because of the passage of time and other issues she expects no action to be taken in a majority of cases. It is not good enough for the Taoiseach to say Fr. Molloy is dead. His family know that but they have been devastated by the outcome of this report. They cannot figure out how the Government can correctly pardon somebody who was hanged in 1941 based on a re-examination of that case while expecting us to believe it cannot re-examine Fr. Niall Molloy’s case, which occurred in 1985, even though eight out of 11 witnesses present in the room are still alive and forensic evidence which was never examined is presumably still available.”

Previously: Fr Molloy Report: A Conclusion

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

frmolloyFr Niall Molloy

The McGinn Report compiled by Senior Counsel Dominic McGinn and published yesterday is a review of the Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT) and its probe into the investigation of the 1985 death of Roscommon preist  Fr Niall Molloy and the subsequent criminal trial of Richard Flynn.

Background to the case can be found here.

Legal Coffee Drinker has had a chance to read the 109-page report.

As part of Mr McGinn’s brief, he had to identify any matters of ‘significant public interest or concern arising from the earlier Report warranting investigation by a public inquiry and in respect of which such further inquiry would have a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth‘.

Broadsheet: “Legal Coffee Drinker did Mr McGinn find any such ‘matters’?”

Legal Coffee Drinker: “No. The report concludes (at section 11.3) that ‘while there are a number of issues of public interest which have been identified and enumerated, some of which could be categorised as issues of significant public interest or concern, it is unlikely given the passage of time, the death of many of the pertinent witnesses and the reluctance of others voluntarily to give evidence, that any further inquiry would have a reasonable pro sect of establishing the truth. Accordingly, examination by a further inquiry could not be said to be warranted’.”

Broadsheet: “Despite the fact that he identified ‘issues of significant public interest or concern?’.”

LCD: ” Yes. The report identifies (at 11.1) a number of ‘extremely unusual, if not unique, features about this case which are quite disturbing and merited an in-depth analysis,’ in particular:-

(i) Inaccuracies in the accounts given by Richard and Therese Flynn as to the time of Fr Molloy’s death, with medical evidence indicating that it could have occurred any time between 10 p.m. on the 6th July 1985 to 11 p.m. on the 7th July 1985;
(ii) The unexplained significant delay in calling the authorities;
(iii) The attempts by the local parish priest, Fr James Duignan, to keep the circumstances of Fr Molloy’s death quiet;
(iv) The calm attitude of Richard Flynn on the arrival of the Gardai at Kilcoursey House, the report remarking that ‘after the violent death of a family friend in the house, a somewhat less controlled reaction would perhaps be anticipated‘”
(v) The failure of the Flynns to reveal their business dealings with Fr Molloy at the outset of the Garda investigation.”

Broadsheet: “Extremely unusual.”

LCD: “Indeed. It also (at 10.5) agrees with the conclusions reached by the SCRT that there were serious shortcomings in the original investigation, in particular failure:—
(i) to interview all guests who attended the wedding on the 6th July 1985;
(ii) to conduct house-to-house enquiries;
(iii) to record any scientific testing of blood samples, physical items and fingermarks taken at the scene;
(iv) to properly investigate a prior break in at Fr Molloy’s house;
(v) to interview the people mentioned by David Flynn in his original statement to Gardai at an early stage to test the veracity of his account;
(vi) to return Fr Molloy’s wristwatch (which was broken, and had stopped at a particular time) without a proper investigation of its condition;
(vii) to seek a report from Dr Michael Farrell, whose opinion had been relied on by Dr John Harbison, the pathologist who gave evidence at the inquest and the trial, but whose report, when compiled by the SCRT, highlighted that the account given by Richard and Therese Flynn could not have been accurate as to time.”

Broadsheet: “What about the allegations that political and judicial contacts were used to stymie the investigation and subsequent trial of Richard Flynn?”

LCD:” The report identifies (at 10.3.5) two political figures – Brian Lenihan and an unnamed member of the Fianna Fail National Executive – the latter the groom’s uncle – as having been present at the wedding which preceded Fr Molloy’s death.
However it concludes (at 11.1) that although ‘the Flynn family certainly enjoyed friendships with those involved in politics, some of them at the highest level… there is no evidence to substantiate a contention that these political connections were used to their advantage in relation to the events surrounding Fr Molloy’s death…it is clear that certain strident views are held by those closest to the late priest. This does not amount to evidence upon which any reliance can be placed and, in the absence of such and given the death of most of the main protagonists connected with the case, there is no prospect of arriving at a sound, evidentially-based conclusion‘.
As regards the subsequent trial before Judge Frank Roe, at which he directed an acquittal of Richard Flynn (detailed at 4.1), the report references (at 4.4) a letter subsequently written by prosecuting Counsel which, although ambiguous on the merits of Judge Roe’s decision to acquit on the manslaughter charge, is strongly critical of his decision to acquit Richard Flynn on the other charge of assault. However the report points out (at 4.5) that the scope of the DPP to challenge Richard Flynn’s directed acquittal was limited at that time to an application under Section 34(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act 1967, which, even if successful, would not affect the verdict.”

Broadsheet:“What about if Judge Roe was shown to be biased e.g. because the Flynn family were friends of his?”

LCD:“The report doesn’t consider the possibility of a judicial review of Judge Roe’s decision on the grounds of bias, perhaps because, although acknowledging (at 11.1) that ‘it is an uncomfortable fact that.. Judge Frank Roe was deeply involved in the horse business, which… inevitably has let to an inference being drawn that he must have known all the parties involved’ it concludes (at 11.1) that ‘as an objective fact, there is no documentary evidence to substantiate… the suggestion that Judge Roe was predisposed to securing Richard Flynn’s acquittal.While nothing can be done to prevent anyone arriving at their own decisions in respect of the trial judge, at this remove and given the death of Judge Roe, it is highly unlikely that any correct conclusions, founded on reliable evidence, could be reached’.”

Broadsheet: “What about the letter, reported to have been written by Judge Roe to the DPP, acknowledging an acquaintanceship with the Flynns?”

LCD: “According to the report (at 10.4.1) the alleged letter is not on the DPP’s file, nor is there anything on the file disclosing evidence or suggestion that it ever existed. The then incumbent of the position, Eamon Barnes, is also reported (at 10.2.16) as saying that neither he nor any member of his staff had any recollection of such letter having been received. The report concludes (at 11.1) that “there is no documentary evidence to substantiate the suggestion that the judge was in correspondence with the DPP.”

Broadsheet: “Wasn’t this the file taken by Martin Cahill [The General]? And wasn’t there a file destroyed by fire?”

LCD: “The file alleged to have been destroyed by arson was the inquest file. In fact it is stated in the report (at 8.2) that the SCRT sourced this file and found it intact. The DPP file was returned after its theft and no indication is given in the account of its theft and return (detailed at 8.1 and 11.1) that it was not returned intact. It should be noted that the report does not absolutely conclude that no such letter was written by Judge Roe, or that he did not have knowledge of the Flynn family, simply stating that – like the other public interest issues in the case – it is impossible to prove it at this remove, given Judge Roe’s death.”

Broadsheet: “But surely as regards proving what happened to Fr Molloy at least, many of the people in the house that night, and at the wedding, are still alive?”

LCD: “Yes. In a formal statement (detailed at 10.1) made by her to the SCRT on the 17th November 2010 – journalist Gemma O’Doherty – whose prior writings on the case are covered extensively in the report (at 9.3) – gave the names of 35 people whom she felt should be interviewed or re-interviewed. However the report states (again at 10.1) that only 17 of these persons chose to make agreed to speak to the SCRT and to make statements. The summary of these statements (at 10.2) of the report records in some instances (10.2.1, 10.2.8) divergences and/or omissions as between these statements as made and as outlined by Ms O’Doherty, although it is not clear in all cases whether or not these divergences were put to the persons making the statement. The report also states (at 10.3) that in addition to those people named by Gemma O’Doherty in her statement, the SCRT interviewed a further 24 witnesses who had not been named by Ms O’Doherty.”

“Were any of the Flynn family interviewed by the SCRT?”

LCD: The report statesPerhaps unsurprisingly, the members of the Flynn family and their in-laws and close friends declined to comment further about the case. The consequence of this was that the SCRT inquiry was limited, in respect of the Flynn family, to the statements prepared in conjunction with their solicitor for the purposes of the initial investigation.

Broadsheet: “Any exceptions?”

LCD: “Richard and Therese Flynn’s son David Flynn, who is described as having been questioned on a voluntary basis by members of the SCRT. In this interview, he stated that he had been asleep in the early morning of the 8th July 1985 when he was woken by a telephone call from his brother-in-law who asked him to come to Kilcoursey House without specifying what was wrong.”

Broadsheet: “Or why the gardai were not called until some time after Fr Molloy’s death?”

LCD: “David Flynn could not explain why the Gardai had not been contacted but insisted that there had been no discussion among members of the family to follow any particular plan of action. When asked about a comment he had made during an interview with Tom McCaughren of RTÉ during which he was reported as saying “It’s very difficult when one knows certain answers and isn’t in a position to comment; it makes it very difficult to live with,” he explained that, at the time there had been rumours and speculation about matters which he knew were untrue and which he could have shown were untrue but that, at the time, he had felt that he could not say anything specific.
The report states that David Flynn did not specify what matters he had been in a position to refute, neither did he offer an explanation about why he had felt unable to refute them at the time or on what basis he would have refuted them.” David Flynn denied that his mother had ceased speaking to him after 1985, but accepted that their relationship had merely changed from mother-son to a purely business arrangement, but without any animosity. He described the bond between his mother and Mr Molloy as, in many ways “stronger than any husband-wife relationship.”
When asked (also at 10.2.4) about a comment he had made during an interview with Tom McCaughren of RTE during which he was reported as saying “It’s very difficult when one knows certain answers and isn’t in a position to comment; it makes it very difficult to live with,” he explained that, at the time there had been rumours and speculation about matters which he knew were untrue and which he could have shown were untrue but that, at the time, he had felt that he could not say anything specific. The report goes on to state (also at 10.2.4) that David Flynn “did not specify what matters he had been in a position to refute, neither did he offer an explanation about why he had felt unable to refute them at the time or on what basis he would have refuted them.”
The report also states (at 10.3.24) that the SCRT, as part of their investigation, expressed a wish to interview Richard Flynn; however certification was received from Mr Flynn’s doctor that he was physically and mentally incapable of questioning in relation to any garda matters.
As regards other members of the Flynn family, the report states (at 10.1) “Perhaps unsurprisingly, the members of the Flynn family and their in-laws and close friends declined to comment further about the case.” The consequence of this was that the SCRT inquiry was limited, in respect of the Flynn family, to the statements (detailed at 3.4) prepared in conjunction with their solicitor for the purposes of the initial investigation. The report also states (at 11.1) that “the attitude taken by the Flynn family with the authorities is perhaps less surprising given that, undoubtedly, at least one of them knew who was responsible for Fr Molloy’s death.”

Broadsheet:“Did the failure of the Flynn family to co-operate stymie the SCTR investigation?”

LCD: “Yes.The report specifically identifies (at 11.2)“the continued reluctance of those who have first-hand knowledge of these events to answer questions raised by others” as a key reason why many of the questions in the original investigations remain unanswered..”

Broadsheet: “Can anything be done about this?”

LCD: “Not according to the report, which states that “given that every individual has an inalienable right not to incriminate himself, it would appear that this difficulty cannot be overcome.” It also mentions, in the context of the original investigation, that it was not possible at the time to compel people to co-operate with the Gardai.”

Broadsheet: “At the time?”

LCD: “Yes. The report mentions (also at 10.5) that the law has been subsequently changed, without giving details. It is possible that what is being referred to here is the duty to inform contained in Section 9 of the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 which provides that a person shall be guilty of an offence if he or she has information which he or she knows or believes might be of material assistance in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of any other person for a serious offence and fails without reasonable excuse to disclose that information as soon as it is practicable to a member of the Garda Siochana.”

Broadsheet: “Could Section 9 apply to compel individuals relating to the Molloy case to disclose information which they may have had since 1985?”

LCD: “A very interesting question, and one which is not discussed in the report. There is a presumption against criminal legislation having retroactive effect. On the other hand, could it be that the duty under Section 9 is an ongoing duty, so that if one has information about a criminal offence committed prior to the coming into effect of the 1998 Act one has an obligation to disclose that information as soon as the Act comes into effect? It is a pity that the implications of subsequent changes in the law regarding disclosure were not discussed in full in the report, so as to remove any doubt on this issue, which is at the heart of Mr McGinn’s decision not to recommend an inquiry.”

Broadsheet:“Anything else?”

LCD: “Yes. There’s a fairly significant typo in the report’s conclusions (11.1, at p103) where it is stated that Fr Molloy was seen by witnesses on the evening of the 8th July (presumably this should be the 7th July since his death was reported to Gardai in the early morning of the 8th). It’s a pity that wasn’t picked up in proofreading…”

Broadsheet: “Thank you Legal Coffee Drinker.”

Full report here

Yesterday: Father Forgive Them

Previously: Fr Niall Molloy on broadsheet