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Home / News / Kenneally says he had no contact from gardaí for 25 years

Kenneally says he had no contact from gardaí for 25 years

Convicted child abuser Bill Kenneally has told an inquiry into the response to his abuse, that he had no contact from gardaí for 25 years after he was first asked to come and speak to them about an allegation that he had indecently assaulted a 14-year-old boy.

Kenneally, who is serving almost 19 years in prison for the abuse of 15 young boys in Waterford between 1979 and 1990, was brought from prison to give evidence at the Commission of Investigation examining the response to allegations about him.

Gardaí believe at least 14 other boys were abused by him. His abuse has been described as one of the most serious cases of paedophilia discovered in Ireland.

The commission, which is chaired by retired High Court judge Michael White, was established in 2018 to examine issues including the response of gardaí, the South Eastern Health Board and Basketball Ireland to allegations made against Kenneally.

It is also investigating the knowledge of Kenneally’s uncle, Monsignor John Shine, or other members of the Catholic clergy and any political or public figures as well as any contact between gardaí in Waterford and the monsignor or between Waterford gardaí and political figures or public officials about the abuse.

Kenneally’s trials in 2016 and last year, heard he met boys through basketball coaching and groomed them by plying them with drink, money and other gifts while subjecting them to very serious sexual abuse.

Kenneally told the commission this morning that on 30 December 1987, his uncle, Billy Kenneally who was a Fianna Fáil TD, came to him at a basketball training session and told him gardaí would like to speak to him.

Under cross examination by lawyers for seven of his victims, Bill Kenneally said the reason they wanted to speak to him would have been “unspoken” between himself and his uncle.

He decided to go up immediately and spoke to two senior gardaí – Sean Cashman and PJ Hayes for 90 minutes.

He said gardaí told him they had an allegation of indecent assault from the father of a 14-year-old boy.

Kenneally said he told gardaí what he was doing and said he felt at that stage he was “out of control”.

Kenneally told his own senior counsel that he knew there was a possibility he could be prosecuted but the gardaí told him that the first thing to do was to go to a doctor. They told him not to have any contact with the boys and to get psychiatric help, he said.

The commission was told a number of other boys were mentioned during this discussion with gardaí.

Kenneally said he did not know if he had raised the boys’ names or if the gardaí had. He said his use of handcuffs was discussed and gardaí asked him where he had got them from. He told them he had bought them on Carnaby street in London as “there were no sex shops in Ireland at the time”.

He said he was subsequently contacted by his uncle, Msgr John Shine who arranged for him to see a doctor, to get “help”. He saw the doctor a number of times and the doctor said he would be reporting back to An Garda Síocháana.

In January 1988, he said he was told by the principal of De La Salle College in Waterford, Brother Columba, that An Garda Síochána had been in contact with him and he could no longer coach basketball in the school.

He said in March 1988 he was told by a Garda Seanie Barry who was involved with the basketball club that he had been told to keep an eye on him.

Kenneally told the commission that he felt urges to involve himself sexually with adolescent boys returning to him in summer 1988.

He went back to the doctor who suggested he could give him some medication. But he was told by the doctor that when he went to the chemist they would know what the medication was for. Kenneally said he was afraid of that and did not go back to the doctor after that.

Kenneally said he was not prosecuted by gardaí in 1988. The next time he heard from gardaí, he said, was in December 2012 when gardai arrived to search his house.

Asked by lawyer Barra McGrory, representing seven of Kenneally’s victims, whether he knew in 1987 that what he was doing was wrong, Kenneally agreed and said he knew it was something he had to face up to.

But he said it was viewed nowadays as a far more serious crime than it would have been in 1987.

“It wouldn’t have been regarded as one quarter as serious as if someone went in nowadays,” he said.

Mr McGrory also put it to Kenneally that he continued to abuse boys after the interview with gardaí in 1987.

Kenneally said he had engaged in sexual activity with boys after that, but he claimed that none of them were under the age of consent which at the time was 15.

He told the commission “that’s what the law says”. He claimed one incident had been instigated by the boy and not by him.

He was asked about guilty pleas he had entered during his last trial last year which involved allegations of abuse up to 1990.

Kenneally said the judge had changed the indictment in the middle of the trial and he believed it was not a fair trial and had just decided to plead guilty.

Kenneally also told the commission he himself had been abused when he was around 15 years old. He said the abuse was carried out by someone who lived near his family but was not in the family circle.

Many victims and their families have gathered at the commission to hear Kenneally’s evidence.

Before the hearing began, Mr Justice White said he knew it would be a very emotional and difficult situation.

He understood feelings were high but he asked anyone who felt their “temper going up” to leave the room and respect the procedures put in place “for the sake of everybody”.

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