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Garda witnesses appear before Kenneally commission

The Commission of Investigation examining how allegations of abuse carried out by basketball coach Bill Kenneally were handled has heard from two Garda witnesses.

Ahead of their evidence, Mr Justice Michael White said Bill Kenneally will be back for a cross-examination following his evidence in March.

It is understood that will be in the coming weeks.

Today, retired Chief Superintendent Michael McGarry told the Commission he was the Sergent in charge of Waterford Garda station from the end of 1986 to November 1989 which meant he was responsible for the general running of the station.

Barra McGrory BL, representing some of the victims, questioned Mr McGarry about the procedures that were in place for the reporting of crimes.

Mr McGarry said he was not aware of any allegation of child sexual abuse being made against Bill Keneally during that time.

He was asked about evidence previously heard by the Commission that a complaint was made in December 1987 to former acting Chief Superintendent Seán Cashman.

Mr McGarry said he did not know about that at the time but was subsequently made aware.

He said he would not have been notified about every complaint that was made by an individual who came into the Garda station; unless an investigation was launched.

He told the Commission that some people might seek advice and may not want to make a formal complaint.

The former senior garda described how the “occurrence book” in the station was used to record all instances of reporting and calls to the station.

Ray Motherway BL, representing some of the victims, asked Mr McGarry about a teenage victim who alleged he had made a complaint in person at Waterford Garda Station the day after Kenneally abused him, but was told to go home.

Mr Motherway asked Mr McGarry whether he would have expected a report like that to be recorded somewhere, and if there was a statutory requirement to do so.

Mr McGarry said he would expect that a report like that would have been directed to a member of the investigative branch.

The Commission is also hearing from a witness from the Department of Health about the development of public policy around child sexual abuse.

Documents relating to the prevalence of child sex abuse in the early 1980s and need for specialised units to help victims are being referred to at the hearing.

Search of Kenneally’s home

Garda Sergeant Edmund Flynn, who is now serving in Tramore, attended a search of Bill Kenneally’s home in December 2012.

Barra McGrory BL, representing some of the victims, asked if Sgt Flynn was aware of a side office in any of the rooms he searched – he said he was not and that the only rooms he searched were the front room and rear bedroom.

Sgt Flynn confirmed he and his colleagues had been told in advance of the search to look out for orange twine.

He confirmed there were a number of items seized at the property but that he did not see any of them.

Sgt Flynn told the hearing that at the time of the original search of Bill Kenneally’s house, he was not aware of any of the facts of the case – that it was at a later stage he became aware that he was personally known to a number of the victims.

Mr Justice Michael White asked whether a senior investigating officer was at the first search, to which Sgt Flynn said, no.

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