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
Update: Original report mistakenly referred to former State Pathologist, Dr. John Harbison, as being deceased, it should have said he was retired. The report has been amended. GSOC apologises for this error.
In June 2016 the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) admitted for investigation a complaint on behalf of relatives of the late Fr. Niall Molloy who died on the 8th of July 1985, 33 years ago. The complaint was in relation to the original investigation into the death of Fr. Molloy. One person, Richard Flynn, was charged in relation to the death but was acquitted of the charge of manslaughter on direction of the trial judge in June 1986.
Since that time the unsolved death has been considered to be an open investigation. In March 2013 the Garda Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT) published its report into the death of Fr Molloy. The report examined the original investigation and reached a number of conclusions. The outcome of the SCRT report led to calls for further investigation into the death and circumstances surrounding the garda investigation at the time in 1985.
In February 2014 Mr. Dominic McGinn, Senior Counsel, was appointed by the Minister for Justice and Equality to review the contents of the report of the SCRT relating to the Garda investigation into the death of Fr Niall.
In the publication of his report of October 2014 on the 31st of March 2015 Dominic McGinn, SC, found that in light of the passage of time, coupled with the death of key witnesses, further investigation would not be likely to establish what had occurred leading to the death of Fr. Molloy. Further Mr. McGinn, SC, agreed with the SCRT findings in relation to the deficiencies in the original investigation.
GSOC was then approached by Mr. Henry McCourt, nephew of the late Fr. Molloy, to investigate the complaint about the deficiencies surrounding the original investigation into the death in 1985.
A report of that investigation is now available and attached to this release. As noted by Mr. McGinn SC in his investigation in 2014, the passage of time has meant that further investigation has not been possible. The statutory mandate of GSOC under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 means that it is not able to investigate the actions of retired members of the gardaí as they can no longer be held liable for breaches of discipline that may have arisen when members of the Garda Síochána.
While individuals and their actions, or failures to act, in 1985 and 1986 cannot be investigated further it is of real concern to GSOC that exhibits and documents relevant to the case can now not be found. This is particularly so at a time when forensic advances have meant that previously unsolved serious offences have been solved years and decades after the original crimes – both nationally and internationally. The case of Fr. Molloy is still an open and unsolved crime. The failure to keep exhibits and documents safe and available for future use is something that has arisen in other cases that GSOC has investigated and therefore not isolated to the particular facts of this investigation.
These matters have been raised in correspondence with the Garda Commissioner and this is set out in the Report released today.
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
In June 2016 GSOC admitted for investigation a complaint on behalf of relatives of the late Fr. Niall Molloy who died in Offaly in 1985
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