The Government has defended its decision to delay a commission of investigation into the handling of cases involving the victims of paedophile sports coach Bill Kenneally, amid mounting calls from his victims for the proceedings to begin.
Kenneally is serving a 14-year sentence after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting 10 teenage boys in Waterford in the 1980s.
While the Government last year approved the establishment of a commission of investigation into the handling of the Kenneally case, it has been stalled pending Kenneally’s appeal against the severity of his sentence, and the completion of an ongoing garda investigation into new allegations against him.
A number of his victims have contributed to an online video urging any other victims to come forward, during which they also called on the Government to give the commission the green light.
However responding in a statement yesterday, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said, “the Government was obliged to take into account legal advice received from the attorney general’s office” when deciding when the commission would get under way.
“With an obligation on the commission to disclose relevant information in its possession to a person giving evidence to the commission, this might compromise evidence that such persons might give in criminal proceedings, thus jeopardising the rights of the victims to having their complaints investigated and prosecuted and any potential accused to a fair trial,” he said.
“It would be entirely inappropriate for this Government to take any action which risks seriously compromising those investigations and/or criminal proceedings. Criminal investigations are ongoing in respect of a number of such cases and files have been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to several cases and directions are awaited.
“Therefore, even if a commission were to be established now, its work would be seriously delayed to allow for the completion of outstanding investigations and prosecutions. This would not be in the public interest, or in the best interest of those directly affected,” Mr Flanagan said.
Labour leader Brendan Howlin has indicated that he will raise the matter when the Dáil resumes later this month.
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