Retired Circuit Judge Barry Hickson has been appointed to Chair the Commission of Investigation into the systemic failings by the State in relation to the paedophile Bill Kenneally.  Kenneally pleaded guilty to abusing ten boys in the 1980s in Waterford.


Kenneally pleaded guilty and was sentenced in February 2015 after abusing teenage boys in Waterford in the 1980s.  He had been interviewed by gardaí in Waterford in 1987 about abuse allegations but gardaí say that because no formal complaints were made, no charges were brought.


In September 2016 his victims publicly called for an investigation into the role of Fianna Fáil, An Gardaí, the former South Eastern Health Board and the Catholic Church to ascertain who knew what and when.


The Cabinet has now agreed that an Inquiry will be set up and they have appointed retired circuit court judge Barry Hickson to lead it. The inquiry will not begin its work until a number of outstanding legal matters – including more complaints against Kenneally are concluded.


The Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, who previously met the victims, had said any inquiry would look at the handling of the case by State agencies, including An Garda Síochána, as well as the role of Church and other figures.


Welcoming today’s announcement, Jason Clancy said:


“We are delighted with both the reaffirmation from the Minister of Justice that the Government are proceeding with the inquiry and the appointment of retired judge Barry Hickson to lead the inquiry.  This is a great day for all of Bill Kenneallys’ victims and we now look forward to getting to the bottom of this horrid affair in due course.”


Darragh Mackin of KRW LAW LLP, solicitor to a number of Kenneallys’ victims said:


“After almost eight months, our clients have today been vindicated by the Minister’s decision to conduct a commission of investigation.  This decision is a true testament to the hard work by our clients’, and their wider campaign, in ensuring that the truth would be uncovered.


We now look forward to actively engaging with the Inquiry to ensure that the truth is uncovered in an effective and expeditious manner, and that those who were involved and complicit in this myriad of failings are identified.”