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Kenneally abuse complaints: Alleged collusion between gardaí and church to be probed

The former Waterford sports coach is currently serving a 14 year prison sentence.

File picture of Kenneally in the 1980s.
File picture of Kenneally in the 1980s.
Image: With permission from RTE

AN INVESTIGATION INTO the handling of allegations of child sexual abuse against Bill Kenneally has received Cabinet approval.

The former Waterford sports coach is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence in relation to 10 counts of indecent assault against minors which took place in the 1980s.

He was originally charged with 70 counts spanning dates in the 1970s and 1980s.

A number of survivors of that abuse allege that there was collusion between the Gardaí, the Catholic Church and elements within the political system, which prevented the paedophile from being arrested and charged at a much earlier stage.

They have claimed that the State failed to intervene sufficiently in order to stop Kenneally from continuing to abuse children.

Because of these concerns, the Government agreed in principle to establish a Commission of Investigation last year. Today the Cabinet approved Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan’s proposal to establish the Commission.

“This is an important day for the survivors of abuse committed by Bill Kenneally. I and my officials have consulted closely with the victims and their legal representatives on the draft Terms of Reference which Cabinet noted today,” Minister Flanagan said.

As Minister for Justice and Equality, I am particularly conscious of the importance of ensuring the Commission does not impact upon any pending criminal prosecutions and, accordingly, I have consulted with the Attorney General and the DPP who will monitor the Commission proceedings.

Flanagan added that he intends to have the Commission established as soon as possible.

The Terms of Reference for the Commission will be published in the coming days and it is expected that it will take up to a year to report. It will be chaired by retired Circuit Court Judge Barry Hickson.

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Ceimin Burke

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