Investigation was not carried out correctly.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Investigation was not carried out correctly. thumbnailKevin Forde, retired garda sergeant, pictured at his home in Clara this week.

THE garda sergeant in Clara at the time of Fr Niall Molloy's death has said the initial investigation was not carried out correctly.
Speaking to the Tribune yesterday (Tuesday, July 10), Kevin Forde said local gardai were excluded from the case too early and the probe by the Dublin garda bureau could have been "better".
Mr Forde was speaking a day after a GSOC (Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission) report expressed concern that documents related to the 1985 inquiry cannot be found.
GSOC also pointed out that it is legally precluded from investigating the actions of retired members in disciplinary investigations.
Roscommon priest Fr Molloy died in Kilcoursey House, Clara on July 8, 1985.
Richard Flynn, the owner of the house and a friend of Fr Molloy, was charged with the priest's manslaughter but was acquitted by direction of the trial judge, Frank Roe.
Mr Forde said Clara gardai were "out of the picture" once the investigation was taken from them and despite his own expectation that he would be consulted for "local knowledge", it did not happen.
“The bureau would come down from Dublin and they would take over the investigation but in the normal course you would be kept informed about what was happening," he said.
“But I was never consulted good, bad or indifferent."
He added: "I couldn't have offered a whole lot but I would have gone about it maybe in a different way."
He accepted that hindsight made it easier to identify mistakes which were made and stressed he does not believe there was ever any cover-up.
“And the reason for that was a man put up his hands at the very start," said Mr Forde.
He said he understands why family members are seeking a new investigation.
“They're of the opinion that the wrong man was charged and the real culprit is still there. I suppose they feel he should face the music at some stage. Whether they'll be successful in that I don't know."
Now 78, Mr Forde said he was not aware that GSOC could not interview retired gardai as part of its inquiry.
He fears it might now be too late for a new investigation. "If any new evidence came up it would be a different story alright. But nothing has come up as far as I know," he said.
He also recalled that files on the Molloy case had been stolen by the criminal Martin Cahill, who was known as 'The General', but had been returned to the gardai.
“Whether they got them all back or not, I don't know".
Bill Maher, a nephew of the late Fr Molloy, has renewed his call for a new inquiry and said it should be carried out by an "independent judge".
Mr Maher was appalled that evidence has gone missing in the case and said GSOC's criticism of poor record-keeping means Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has questions to answer.
“Now that the GSOC report is out I would expect some form of a statement from the Minister and we will certainly be seeking a meeting with him," said Mr Maher.
Mr Maher said he could not accept that forensic evidence and witness statements could be "accidentally" mislaid from the Molloy file.
The priest's nephew said he knew his uncle had been brutally beaten prior to his death and believes mistakes were made very early in the investigation.
Family members believe key witnesses were not interviewed immediately after the gardai were called to Kilcoursey House.
This week's report from GSOC arose from a complaint about the original garda investigation by another nephew, Henry McCourt.
Mr McCourt lodged his complaint after a barrister, Dominic McGinn, completed a review of a report by the Garda Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT).
Mr McCourt told GSOC that the SCRT report and McGinn's review of it uncovered serious deficiencies in the garda investigation.
Mr McCourt claimed there had been a miscarriage of justice and he described the garda probe as "shambolic, unprofessional and unacceptable".
This week's GSOC report said that while a "significant" amount of material was provided to it, "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 report says.
The report notes that "members of the original [garda] team" are now retired and the state pathologist at the time, Dr John Harbison, is deceased.
The garda file on Fr Molloy's death is still open.


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