Family renews appeal over death of priest in the midlands 25 years ago

The relatives of a priest who was found dead in a pool of blood in a house in Clara 25 years ago have again renewed their appeal for the case to be re-opened. Fr Niall Molloy, 52, died in a bedroom in Kilcoursey House on July 8, 1985, where he had been a guest at family wedding celebrations, held by his close friends Richard and Therese Flynn, a well-known couple in business and horse-racing circles. Speaking to the Westmeath Independent, Fr Niall's nephew Bill Maher who lives in Dublin, said the family have been campaigning for the case to be re-opened for over two decades now, and are also appealing for people to come forward if they have any information. "The only way we as a family will get closure is when a full and proper investigation is mounted into the circumstances surrounding Niall's death," said Bill. "Niall was a very much loved and highly respected member of our family and the communities in which he worked, and is sadly missed, with affection, by us all as we remember him 25 years on." Fr Niall, originally from Roscommon and a parish priest in Castlecoote, was a life-long horse enthusiast and a close friend of the Flynns. While Richard ran a chain of motor accessory shops in the Midlands, Fr Molloy and Therese invested in race-horses. On the eve of his death, Fr Niall arrived at Kilcoursey to join in the family celebrations. When giving a voluntary statement after Fr Niall's death, Mr Flynn told Gardaí that he had been viciously attacked by his wife and Fr Niall in a row over drink in the couple's bedroom. He said he acted in self-defence, striking them both, the priest at least three times. Richard Flynn was charged with manslaughter and causing actual bodily harm, but when the trial began in June 1986, the presiding judge, Judge Frank Roe, directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict. Judge Roe said that the only evidence against Mr Flynn was his voluntary statement. He said the evidence of State Pathologist Dr John Harbison indicated that Fr Molloy could have hit a blunt instrument like a bedpost when falling and because he had a weak heart, the fall could have brought on his death. The charges against Mr Flynn were thrown out. After the family demanded an inquest, a two-day hearing in Tullamore in 1986 ruled that Fr Molloy died as a result of head injuries. The unsolved case of Fr Niall has featured regularly in national newspapers over the years, as well as in many books on Irish crime written by journalists, and in 2006 on RTÉ's programme 'Scannal'. In a further twist, many years after Fr Niall's death, Dublin crime-lord Martin Cahill (The General) stole confidential case files from the offices of the DPP in a bid to embarrass the authorities, including the file on Fr Niall's death. In an affidavit from convicted Dublin criminal John Traynor in a 1996 case, he described in detail his dealings with journalist Veronica Guerin and said that at one of their meetings she had produced a file related to the circumstances of the death of a priest in the Midlands. A special mass was held for Fr Niall marking the 25th anniversary of his death in his former parish of Castlecoote in Co Roscommon last Thursday July 8, celebrated by Bishop of Elphin Christy Jones. Prayers were also said at Fr Niall's graveside in the adjoining cemetery. Fr Niall was previously a chaplain with the army and served on tour in Cyprus.