Cabinet approves Minister Flanagan’s proposal to establish Kenneally Commission of Investigation


Both Houses of the Oireachtas will be asked to passed resolutions to enable the formal establishment of the Commission


Commission chair to be retired Circuit Court Judge Barry Hickson



29th May, 2018


The Cabinet has approved Minister Flanagan’s proposal to establish the Commission of Investigation into the response to complaints or allegations of child sexual abuse made against Bill Kenneally.  Government also noted the Terms of Reference and approved the appointment of retired Circuit Court Judge Barry Hickson as Sole Member of the Commission.  The Houses of the Oireachtas will now be required to pass motions so that the Commission can be formally established and this is expected to take place in the coming weeks.


Following the Cabinet meeting, Minister Flanagan said,  “This is an important day for the survivors of abuse committed by Bill Kenneally. I and my officials have consulted closely with the victims and their legal representatives on the draft Terms of Reference which Cabinet noted today.   As Minister for Justice and Equality, I am particularly conscious of the importance of ensuring the Commission does not impact upon any pending criminal prosecutions and, accordingly, I have consulted with the Attorney General and the DPP who will monitor the Commission proceedings.  I have always been conscious of balancing the rights of the complainants who have come forward and made allegations more recently to have their allegations fully investigated  against the rights of those who have sought to have these very important matters investigated by a Commission.”


The Minister continued:  “It is my intention to seek time in both Houses of the Oireachtas in the next fortnight for a debate on these issues and a vote on the necessary Motions.  Once the approval of both Houses is received, the Government will formally set and publish the Terms of Reference and establish the Commission of Investigation.  It is my intention to have the Commission established as soon as possible.“




Note to Editors


The Commission will be called: The ‘Commission of Investigation (Response to complaints or allegations of child sexual abuse made against Bill Kenneally, and related matters’.


The Terms of Reference for the Commission will be published in the coming days when the text of necessary motions is submitted to the Houses of the Oireachtas by the Department of Justice and Equality.


Mr. Bill Kenneally is currently serving a 14 year prison sentence in relation to 10 sample counts of indecent assault against minors which took place in the 1980s. A number of survivors of that abuse have claimed that the State and other bodies failed to intervene sufficiently in order to prevent him continuing to abuse children. They allege that there was collusion between An Garda Síochána, the Catholic Church Authorities and elements within the political system, which prevented Mr. Kenneally from being arrested and charged at a much earlier stage. As a result of these concerns, the Government agreed in principle on 30 May 2017 to establish a Commission of Investigation.


Once the Commission of Investigation is established, it is anticipated that it will take up to one year to report. The Commission is being established under the Commissions of Investigation Act, 2004, and will be held, predominantly, in private. There is, however, scope for the Sole Member to hold certain parts of the Commission in public, and this will be done at his discretion.


The Department of Justice & Equality has received Department of Public Expenditure and Reform sanction for a budget of approximately €1.3m for the conduct of the Commission, to include all reasonable third party and witness costs.


Various administrative arrangements are currently being put in place to support the work of the Commission, and further information in that regard will be made available in the coming weeks.