By Saoirse McGarrigle
Victims of serial paedophile Bill Kenneally are to sue the State and have called for a Commission of Investigation into who knew about the abuse and "turned a blind eye".
Sports coach Kenneally was jailed in February for abusing teenage boys in the 1980s. He pleaded guilty at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court to 10 sample counts of indecent assault. He is serving a
14-year prison term, but he is appealing the severity of the sentence.
Six of his victims claim gardaí, the Catholic Church and health authorities were told about the abuse but failed to act.
Human rights lawyer Darrgah Mackin, who is representing victims, has written to the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to bring the case to her attention.
"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," he said.
Although the prosecution did not begin until 2013, the victims claim Gardaí knew about the abuse as early as 1985, when one teenage boy reported it at Waterford Garda Station on the same day that he collected his Inter Cert results. Gardaí said the first they knew of the allegations was in 1987.
One 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, a 66-year-old accountant from the well-known Fianna Fáil family in Waterford city, used money and alcohol to entice his victims.
Some, but not all, of his victims were basketball players that he coached. He was at one point a national basketball coach.
Former Fianna Fáil minister of state Brendan Kenneally, a first cousin of Kenneally, has said he was told his cousin was a sex abuser in 2002 but did not report the matter to gardaí.
The former Waterford TD said contrary to perceptions, he was not aware of his cousin being an abuser in the 1970s, '80s or '90s.
"The first time I became aware of it was in early 2002 when someone very close to a victim told me," said Mr Kenneally.
He said he did not bring the allegations to the attention of the Gardaí because the victim did not want to take the matter further.
Another victim Paul Walsh claims when he was 14, two gardaí approached him and warned him to stay away from Bill Kenneally.
Walsh 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."