Cllr John Cummins (FG): “As a very strong supporter of the survivors call for an inquiry into the alleged cover up of sexual abuse by convicted paedophile Bill Kenneally, I believe an inquiry is fully justified and it should be commenced without delay.
I’ve had the honour of meeting some of the survivors of abuse by Kenneally and I use the word survivors very carefully – as children they were victims of some of the worst crimes imaginable, but as men, they are survivors who have come out the other side of hell, strong and rightly demanding accountability for the actions of many who either colluded or turned a blind eye to the abuse that Kenneally was engaged in…I believe the survivors will be fully vindicated in the fullness of time in calling out the alleged cover up and collusion between state agencies and organisations like An Garda Siochána, the South Eastern Health Board, Fianna Fáil, the church and other individuals.
I’m acutely conscious that this motion is calling on the Government to commence this inquiry and as a FG Councillor I take that call seriously and that is why I spoke with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week and had a lengthy conversation with Minister Charlie Flanagan on Tuesday night relaying the concerns of the survivors and my party colleagues into the delay in commencing the inquiry. The Minister was very forthright in saying he wanted the inquiry to begin as soon as possible, he explained that he had asked the attorney general to give him a clear legal avenue to do so and that he’d meet the survivors to listen to their stories and brief them on the progress before the end of January and I note he has reaffirmed this in statements to the press so I believe a mechanism will be found to commence this inquiry be that on a modularised basis or some other legal construct and when that occurs it will be a welcome release for all involved.”
Mayor Pat Nugent (FG): “I have been a Councillor for 14 years and I can say without having to think a great deal about it, that this was the most emotive notice that has come before the chamber in my time as a Councillor.”
Cllr Breda Brennan (SF): “I would like to commend these three men with us today on their bravery, courage and strength. I’m ashamed at what ye had to go through, the length of time ye’ve had to go through it – and are still going through it and I just hope to God this inquiry will give you the answers that are needed and that structures are put in place so that nobody has to go through what ye’ve gone through.”
Mary Butler TD (FF): “Fianna Fáil has made it absolutely clear that what the victims have gone through was absolutely horrific…We all are agreed that the inquiry should start as soon as possible. It was, after all, announced by the government last May. In the meantime, all representatives should be working together to ensure that the victims get as much support as possible from the HSE, counselling services and other supports.
“There is a court hearing scheduled for January 26th and I believe it is quite feasible for the government to start the inquiry immediately after that, and if necessary, start it on a modular basis to prevent any clashes or conflict with victims who have decided to take civil action.”
David Cullinane TD (SF): “I have spoken to local Oireachtas members including Minister for State John Halligan on the need for a commission of investigation into abuse cases surrounding Bill Kenneally. There is no good reason why the Commission cannot proceed in part. I have also written to the Minister for Justice requesting a meeting between him and local Oireachtas members. The victims of Bill Kenneally have sought our help in getting this Commission up and running.
“I welcome recent comments by the Minister in which he seems to be softening his attitude to a Commission being established. It is vital that the victims get answers to very serious questions and that appropriate processes are put in place to allow this to happen.”
Minister John Halligan TD (IA): “I have been in contact with Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan on several occasions in recent days to express my concern regarding any potential delays to an inquiry commencing…Minister Flanagan has committed to meeting the victims in the coming weeks to discuss the issue. It is my view that a Commission of Investigation needs to begin as soon as possible, it’s the least these brave men deserve.”
Cllr Sean Reinhardt (Ind): “Like every other Councillor here, we’ve all been involved in campaigns over the years and I know I’ve been involves in some campaigns which have also been emotive and very close to the bone and very personal for some of us. But it’s always a sad day when people have to campaign for justice, to highlight an issue, that’s so close and personal to them, such very sad days. But I think we’ve met the saddest of days when victims of this sort of crime have to publicly campaign for justice. I just want the lads to know how much I admire them. I’ve nothing but the height of respect for them and I want to wish them the best of luck.
* The Councillors who spoke in County Hall last Thursday were Declan Clune, Breda Brennan and John Hearne (SF), Mary Roche, Davy Daniels, Sean Reinhardt, Joe Kelly and Cha O’Neill (all Ind), Pat Nugent, John Cummins, Liam Brazil, Declan Doocey and Lola O’Sullivan (FG), John Pratt (Lab) and Adam Wyse, John O’Leary, Eddie Mulligan, Jason Murphy and Eamon Quinlan. All Councillors in attendance supported the motion with at least one member unable to speak during the debate given how upset he was due to the nature of the motion.