Eoghan Dalton Reports
Waterford City & County Council will be called on to support the convening of the Commission of Investigation into how State Agencies handled the Bill Kenneally case at their Plenary meeting in Dungarvan this Thursday.
The cross-party motion reads: “That Waterford City & County Council calls on the Minister for Justice, Mr Charlie Flanagan T.D. to commence without further delay the Commission of Investigation into the alleged cover up of sex crimes by paedophile Bill Kenneally.” A similar motion was tabled at yesterday (Monday’s) meeting of Wexford County Council.
Declan Clune (SF), who has spearheaded the proposal, said the controversy is something he and several other Councillors have wanted help with for “a long while now, but we didn’t want it to be interpreted to be for political reasons. [The survivors] felt neglected by every party. So I’ve worked on this with John Cummins from Fine Gael as well as [Independents] Mary Roche and Joe Kelly, and they’ve brought it to their groupings. It’s cross-party. It has to be.”
“It’s generating a lot of interest this week but not good interest, thanks to the Minister’s decision,” said Cllr Clune. “We’re obliged to help these guys out in some way though.”
However, one party that has not been approached – at the request of survivors – is Fianna Fáil. “”It’s absolutely fine, if the survivors have a negative view towards Fianna Fáil then that’s understandable. I’d have no problem. You have to be sensitive,” said Cllr Eamon Quinlan.
The Tramore and Waterford City West representative said he expects each FF member to back the motion: “Fianna Fáil policy is that we are to support a creation of an investigation into these events. We will be supporting the motion and to be honest I can’t imagine why anyone in the Council would not support it.”
Deputy Mayor John Cummins (FG) said he has informed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about the case. “The allegations are very serious,” he said. “These men did waive their anonymity and because of that, more people have come forward. Work needs to commence on the Commission of Investigation but it’s a matter of timing as well, there are processes that have to be followed.”
There is a concern from several Councillors that discussion during the motion will become heated, with the history of other parties’ handling of sensitive cases being used for point scoring.
“It is a concern,” said Cllr Cummins. “I’m very conscious of that. I don’t think it will happen though and I don’t think any member will vote against the motion either.”
Cllr Clune said he would not be surprised if the case of Mairia Cahill is raised in the chamber. Ms Cahill is a former member of Sinn Féin who alleged she was raped by a member of the IRA and in an internal investigation, had to confront her rapist.
She reported this to the PSNI, with the charges later dropped. “It won’t be a slagging match…Somebody might bring Mairia Cahill up and if that happens, it happens,” the Comeragh Councillor said.
Cllr Eamon Quinlan told this paper he doesn’t believe his party colleagues will raise any issues against Fine Gael, Sinn Féin or any other parties during the meeting.
“We feel we should separate the issues and deal with other parties’ transgressions at a separate time and focus on the actions of Bill Kenneally, and not to blur the lines by making it political,” he said.
“Unfortunately the Minister’s decision to halt the Commission means there is a wound left on the people of Waterford. So unless the people can see that their organisations have been have been dealt with appropriately, they won’t be able to have any trust in them.”