Tue, 06 Apr, 2021 – 06:30
A victim of Bill Kenneally has criticised the Commission of Investigation into the serial child sex abuser for asking him to contact other victims on its behalf.
Kenneally, of Summerville Ave, Waterford, was sentenced to 14 years in prison at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court in February 2016 after pleading guilty to 10 sample counts of indecently assaulting 10 boys, including Jason Clancy, at various locations in Waterford in the 1980s.
When he announced the formal commencement of the Commission of Investigation in November 2018, retired circuit court judge Mr Justice Barry Hickson said it “will inquire into what, if any, level of knowledge of the offences committed by Bill Kenneally was held by a number of organisations including An Garda Síochána, the Waterford Diocese, the South Eastern Health Board, Basketball Ireland and certain political figures in the relevant time period”.
A letter, seen by the Irish Examiner, sent by Donough McGuinness, solicitor to the Hickson Commission, to Darragh Mackin, solicitor for some of Kenneally’s victims, said: “It might be worth considering whether Jason Clancy might liaise with these people with a view to seeking their consent to us contacting them in the first place?”
Mr Clancy wrote a dossier to the commission on his knowledge and experience of Kenneally and who, he believes, was aware that children were being abused at the time. He believes because of the work he did on the document, he was singled out to approach other victims.
“At the time, I was annoyed,” said Mr Clancy. “I did a huge amount of work in the early days of the case, but that’s their job, that’s not my job.
“It was incredibly disappointing. There’s no communication with the commission and us, it’s very hurtful.
When the commission was set up, they said they needed to instil confidence in us that this is going to be done correctly. It just screams of incompetence.”
A number of Kenneally’s victims met with Justice Minister Helen McEntee on Thursday. She acknowledged their concerns and has agreed to seek an update from the commission with a proposed timetable for progress.
The victims who met with Ms McEntee have warned that if the commission does not begin in any practical way, they will “seek other avenues to uncover the truth”.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said: “The conduct of the work of a Commission of Investigation is solely a matter for the Commission which is independent in the exercise of its functions.”
Kenneally, a former sports coach and accountant, was the cousin of former minister for state Brendan Kenneally. Mr Clancy told the court that Kenneally would remind him during the abuse that he was part of a Fianna Fáil family who dominated politics in the city.