Priest's family hails Dáil focus on Midlands death

The family of a Roscommon priest who died in controversial circumstances in Clara 25 years ago has welcomed moves by opposition parties to get the case re-opened this week. Fr Niall's family has been campaigning for justice ever since, and wants to find out the truth about what happened that night. On Wednesday, opposition party spokespeople on justice, Alan Shatter (FG) and Pat Rabbitte (Lab), asked the Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern to request a new garda investigation into the case. The family of Fr Niall has welcomed the renewed interest in the case and hope that it will be re-opened. “My family have never given trying up to find out the truth of what happened to my Uncle Niall in Clara 25 years ago. We are encouraged by recent developments and are overjoyed by the opposition parties pledge to re-open the case as a priority, if they are in power after the next election. We as a family will never give up our fight for justice for Niall,†said Bill Maher, Fr Niall's nephew in a statement to the Westmeath Independent last week. Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, Deputy Pat Rabbitte said that Fr Molloy had “died in violent circumstances†and asked the Justice Minister had his attention been drawn to the call made by the priest's family for a new garda investigation into the case in view of new information that has emerged; if the Minister will request the gardaí to re-open the investigation; and if the Minister will make a statement on the matter. Deputy Alan Shatter asked would the Minister ask the Garda Commissioner for the investigation into Father Molloy's death to be reopened so that the “facts surrounding his death may be re-examined with a view to determining whether any new prosecution should take placeâ€. He also asked would the Minister ask the commissioner to conduct an investigation into the original investigation that occurred and report on whether the initial investigation was properly conducted or alternatively ask that the garda ombudsman undertake such an investigation and report on the matter. Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said he had requested a report from the Garda authorities following representatives made to him. “I am informed by the Garda authorities that, following the publication of the article referred to by Deputy Shatter, representations were also made to the Garda Commissioner requesting an investigation of the matters raised in it. The Commissioner arranged for a detective superintendent to meet the persons making the representations, particularly in the context of an assessment of whether there is new information or evidence available which could be pursued. I expect to receive a further report from the Commissioner when that assessment is completed,†he replied. Fr Niall Molloy was found lying in a pool of blood in the bedroom of Richard and Therese Flynn in Kilcoursey House, Clara after a family wedding. Mr Flynn, who was later acquitted of the priest's manslaughter, said that the three had a fight caused by drink and he had hit out at both Fr Niall and his wife in self-defence.