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Fr Niall Molloy

Call for judicial inquiry into death of Fr Niall Molloy

Minister Shatter has said that the best chance to achieve justice lies with allowing the current Garda examination to proceed.

THE GARDA EXAMINATION into the death of Fr Niall Molloy is the best chance to achieve justice, the Minister for Justice said today.

His remarks were delivered by Minister of State Paul Kehoe, following a question from Deputies John Paul Whelan, Finian McGrath and Michael Creed about the need for a judicial inquiry into the priest’s death in 1985 at the age of 52. He was found dead in a a pool of blood at the home of two of his closest friends in Clara, Co Offaly.

Today, the Minister said that he is “fully aware of the concerns which have been expressed concerning the death of Father Niall Molloy and he sympathises greatly with the Molloy family”. But he said that the best chance to achieve justice lies with allowing the current Garda examination to proceed.

A new inquiry into Fr Molloy’s death was announced in December 2010. The late priest’s nephew has petitioned for a full public inquiry into his killing.

Fr Molloy’s brother Billy with his picture in 1986. Pic: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Concerns raised

The Minister said that on foot of the concerns raised about Fr Molloy’s death by his family and recent newspaper reports on the case, the Garda Commissioner arranged for a Detective Superintendent to meet with a journalist and family members.

The purpose of this was to facilitate an assessment of whether there was any evidence which was not available to the original investigation team and if further investigation was required in this case.

He said that this examination remains ongoing and that Garda authorities have indicated that during the course of the examination additional information has been provided to the investigating Gardaí, identifying further lines of inquiry which have had had to be followed up.

The Garda Commissioner has assured the Minister that each and every one of these lines of inquiry is being or will be pursued. The Minister also understands that the officers carrying out the examination are continuing to keep Fr Molloy’s family members updated on progress.


The Minister is “well aware” of the many issues of concern which have been raised surrounding the circumstances of Father Molloy’s death “and the context in which some form of inquiry has been considered desirable”.

But what needs to be considered first and foremost at present is that the matters at the heart of the Garda examination relate to potential criminal liability and, in that context, possible charges.

He said that the best form of justice for Fr Molloy’s family “would be for anyone who has any criminal liability in relation to his tragic death to be brought to account through facing charges”. In the Minister’s view it would be “deeply inappropriate to do anything which could prejudice the possibility of that happening”.

It is also of crucial importance that the Gardaí receive the fullest co-operation from any individual who can provide any information of relevance to the enquires being conducted.

He pointed out that in any case where criminal behaviour is suspected it is only through a Garda investigation, and where evidence of criminal wrongdoing is available, through the submission of a file by the Gardaí to the Director of Public Prosecutions, that persons can be brought fully to account before the courts. “A commission or judicial investigation, or journalistic inquiries, cannot do this, nor can any other type of review, no matter how thorough or independent,” he said.

The Minister said that the examination must be allowed to proceed unhindered and he has been assured by the Garda Commissioner that all relevant evidence will be fully pursued, wherever it may lead.

The House will appreciate that, ultimately, a criminal prosecution has to be based on hard evidence, not rumour, speculation or conjecture. The Garda examination has not been completed and, accordingly, any media or other reports of its findings are, of their nature, speculative.

The Minister said he is committed to reviewing the situation when he receives a final report from the Garda Commissioner.

Read: Garda Commissioner asked about Fr Molloy murder, Love/Hate drama>

Read: New inquiry into Fr Niall Molloy death announced>

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