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Dublin: 16 °C Monday 1 September, 2014

Labour senators seek new inquiry into priest’s murder in 1985

Fr Niall Molloy died in July 1985, but a trial jury was direct to acquit the accused before an inquest revealed a violent death.

Fr Niall Molloy's brother Billy holds up a photo of his late brother, a year after Fr Niall was killed in 1985.
Fr Niall Molloy's brother Billy holds up a photo of his late brother, a year after Fr Niall was killed in 1985.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

TWO LABOUR SENATORS have renewed their calls for an independent inquiry into the death of a Roscommon priest who died in violent circumstances in Co Offaly 27 years ago.

John Kelly, from Roscommon, and his Offaly colleague John Whelan said there was still “considerable public disquiet” about the death of Fr Niall Molloy, who was killed in July 1985.

Fr Molloy died at the home of his childhood friend and business partner Therese Flynn and her husband Richard, in Clara, Co Offaly – just hours after the lavish wedding of the Flynns’ daughter Maureen, and only days after being voted Roscommon Person of the Year.

Gardaí investigating the death found evidence of violence in the couple’s bedroom, where Molloy had been found, and pools of blood on the ground – leading to the arrest of Richard Flynn who was charged with manslaughter.

His controversial trial was presided over by Judge Frank Roe, who directed the jury to find the defendant not guilty – only four hours after the trial began – when the defence counsel suggested that Fr Molloy could have died from a heart attack or of other natural causes.

Trial came before inquest

The trial was held before a coroner’s inquest, however, which determined that Molloy had died as a result of a haemorrhage caused by a serious injury to the head.

It subsequently emerged that Molloy could have been dead in the room for several hours: evidence seen by the Irish Independent in 2011 outlined that the watch Molloy was wearing when he died had a crack in its face, with its hands frozen at 10:40 – but Gardai were not called until after 3am.

It was also revealed that Judge Roe knew Richard Flynn personally, and therefore should never have presided over his trial.

“There remains considerable public disquiet surrounding this brutal killing, even though many years have passed,” the senators said in a joint statement yesterday.

“We believe that in the interest of justice, the case must be looked at again.

We feel that this sorry saga is a blight on our criminal justice system, and that if it had happened to an Irish national in any other country, we would be rightly incensed and actively demanding answers.

The two said it was probable that there were some parties who had information about the events of the night but who had never come forward.

“If it had happened to an Irish national in any other country, we would be rightly incensed and actively demanding answers,” they said, calling on justice minister Alan Shatter to seek a fresh inquiry into the death.

The senators held a briefing for Oireachtas members yesterday, seeking cross-party support for a new inquiry.

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