The Government has ruled out holding a Commission of Investigation into the death of Father Niall Molloy.
Fr Molloy, a Catholic priest from Co Roscommon, was killed in mysterious circumstances in a bedroom during a party at a luxurious mansion in Co Offaly in 1985, and no one has ever been held accountable for his death.
Calls for a fresh inquiry were made on the back of a recent documentary by RTÉ, but have now been rejected by Government.
Fianna Fáil junior minister James Browne, on behalf of the justice minister, told the Dáil it was unlikely that any further inquiry would have “a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth”.
Mr Browne highlighted a 2015 report by senior counsel Dominic McGinn, which stated that “some of the concerns expressed about this case were not supported by evidence”, and detailed “shortcomings in the original investigation”.
He added: “The McGinn report concluded that the precise events surrounding Fr Molloy’s death cannot now be ascertained.
“It concludes that given the passage of time, the death of many of the pertinent witnesses and the reluctance of others to give evidence, that it is unlikely that any further inquiry would have a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth.”
The response was criticised by Sinn Féin, who noted that a Commission of Investigation could compel witnesses to appear and give evidence.
Today I will be asking the Minister for Justice to establish a commission of investigation into The Killing of Fr Niall Molloy in a topical issue on the floor of the Dail. #justice @drivetimerte https://t.co/8qU8THxgOd
— Martin Kenny (@Martin_Kenny) September 23, 2021
The party’s justice spokesman, Martin Kenny, said: “It’s an absolute outrage that we have a situation where a priest was found dead in a bedroom, and the people who were involved absolutely walked away without any recourse to justice whatsoever.
“There needs to be a full investigation into how this happened. The only way that can be done is through a commission of inquiry which can compel people to come and tell the truth of what happened, because it is a scandal that has gone on for too long.”
He added: “It is absolutely wrong for the Government to refuse, point blank, to have a Commission of Investigation.”
Claire Kerrane TD said: “I don’t think it’s good enough to say it is unlikely that evidence will be found, and therefore we will not look, or even consider a Commission of Investigation.
“I think that’s really deeply regrettable.
“At the end of the day, we have somebody who has died 36 years ago, and their family remain without any answers and without any justice.
“In this day and age, that is a great shame and I would ask you to reconsider and re-examine the proposal.”
Mr Browne responded: “It is important to recall that the investigation into the death of Fr Molloy remains open, and anyone with any relevant information is encouraged to contact An Garda Síochána.
“It is very unlikely any further inquiry would have a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth, which must be fundamental criteria of establishing any further inquiry.”