Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Victims of paedophile Bill Kenneally want Fianna Fail, the Catholic church and Gardai to be investigated over the abuse

Victims of paedophile Bill Kenneally have described the outcome of the case taken against him as a form of “window dressing”.

Six have said they now believe senior gardai, members of Fianna Fail, the Catholic Church and staff at the South Eastern Health Board were told about the abuse but failed to act.

They are now pushing for a Commission of Investigation into who knew and “turned a blind eye”.

Belfast-based human rights lawyer Darragh Mackin is representing them.

In the past week Mr Mackin has who Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to bring the case to her attention.

Victim Jason Clancy said: “I don’t know what’s more hurtful, the abuse or the fact that people in authority knew that I was being abused and did nothing. 

“They could have taken me out of my misery at any stage but they chose not to.”

Kenneally was convicted at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court on February 19, when he pleaded guilty to 10 sample counts of indecent assault.

He is now serving a 14-year prison term but is appealing the severity of the sentence.

Mr Mackin said: “The prosecutorial process merely examined one aspect of the circumstances that give rise to our clients’ concerns that there existed a clear policy and/or state practice to deliberately prevent the identification and punishment of Mr Kenneally at an earlier stage.”

His victims describe it as a deliberate cover-up that facilitated Kenneally continuing to abuse for years.

Although the prosecution did not begin until 2013, it is alleged gardai knew about the abuse as early as 1985, when one victim reported it to an officer at Waterford Garda station on the same day he collected his Inter Cert results.

Meanwhile, another victim, Paul Walsh, claims when he was 14 two gardai approached him and warned him to stay away from Kenneally. He said: “Back in 1987 when a guard stopped me in the pub and told me that there was a file ‘as long as your arm’ in the station about him I actually thought fair play to him.

“At the time I was 14 and I naively thought that meant that it was all going to stop.”

Then on a separate occasion Kenneally was questioned at Waterford Garda station in 1987 on foot of a complaint from another boy’s father.

Despite admitting to handcuffing, blindfolding and abusing boys when interviewed by Supt Sean Cashman he was released without charge and continued to prey on his victims.

Kenneally, an accountant from the well-known Fianna Fail family in Waterford – his uncle Billy Kenneally was TD for the city – used money and alcohol to entice boys.

Some, but not all of them, were basketball players he coached.

In November 2012, dad of four Jason Clancy said he went to gardai and told them he had been repeatedly abused by Kenneally on a weekly basis for three-and-a-half years in the mid-1980s.

He also gave officers a list of names of other men that were also abused in their teens. 

Shortly after Mr Clancy made a statement, gardai raided Kenneally’s house at Laragh, Summerville Avenue, Waterford, and during the search he admitted to abusing up to 20 boys.

Kenneally offered to give officers a list of the names of the boys he abused.

But Mr Clancy claims five months passed by and detectives attempted to contact a couple of the men on the list Mr Clancy had given them but then stopped making enquiries.

They did not return to collect the list which Kenneally had volunteered to give them. 

Mr Clancy said he was forced to speak to a journalist in order to get his abuser removed from a youth basketball club.

He said when he first contacted Waterford Garda station he was told Kenneally had “never appeared on our radar”.

Mr Clancy then gave a statement to two female officers who were trained in dealing with sexual assault cases.

He also gave gardai a list of names of other men who were abused by Kenneally around the same time and asked detectives to contact them. 

One of the people Mr Clancy asked officers to contact in mid-December 2012 had not heard anything by the middle of February the next year.

This other victim began trying to contact Waterford Garda station by phone himself in order to arrange to make a statement.

He lives abroad and wanted gardai to request through Interpol he be facilitated to give his statement at his local police station.

It was only when the story broke in the public domain a requisition letter was sent to Interpol to arrange for the statement to be given. One of the main causes of concern is a number of questions left unanswered about a video tape discovered in the search of Kenneally’s house.

Mr Clancy said: “I was told by two separate gardai a paedophilia video was found in the search.

“But in the court case the detective said nothing of a paedophilia nature was found. The two gardai that I gave my statement to, however, told me that they found a video tape wrapped up in Sellotape and I even know who the victim was on that video and I know that he was a minor when Kenneally made that video of him. I want to know why they withheld this from the DPP. And also about a month before the trial the gardai told me there is a chance that this man, who abused and tortured me, could walk away from a jail sentence. All because there was no evidence to prove that he had continued abusing after 1987 when they let him go from the station but all that time they held the piece of evidence that proved he did.”

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