Order prohibiting naming of ex-priest facing 34 charges of child sex abuse lifted

Wednesday 22 May 2013 22.23
An application had been made by RTÉ and a number of newspapers over the publication of William Carney's name
An application had been made by RTÉ and a number of newspapers over the publication of William Carney's name

A former priest awaiting trial on historic child sex abuse charges does not have the right to anonymity, a judge has ruled.

William Carney, aged 62, is charged with 34 counts of indecent assault of eight boys and two girls, at locations in Dublin and northeast Leinster from 1969 until 1989.

At Cloverhill District Court today, Judge Gráinne Malone lifted an earlier gag order prohibiting the news media from naming the 62-year-old, who currently has no fixed address.

Her ruling came following submissions from lawyers for RTÉ, The Irish Times, the Irish Independent and the Irish Daily Mail's publishers Associated Newspapers.

The case was adjourned for two weeks.

John Fitzgerald BL, for RTÉ, said the Constitution states that justice has to be administered in public.

He argued that the news media has to report on matters in the interest of the public.

Mr Fitzgerald submitted that there was no statutory basis for the order prohibiting the naming of the accused man, unless there were exceptional circumstances.

Solicitor Tony Williams, for the Irish Independent, also said there was no legislative provision barring the identification of Mr Carney.

"There has to be a question whether his right to a fair trial requires him to be anonymised, but there has been no evidence of that," he submitted.

The arguments advanced by the lawyers for RTÉ and Irish Independent were reiterated by solicitors David Phelan and Michael Keely, who represented The Irish Times and Associated Newspapers respectively.

State solicitor Tom Conlon also said there was no statutory impediment with regards to the defendant being identified, but there was in relation to the anonymity of the alleged injured parties.

Mr Carney did not address the court during the lengthy legal argument about the media's right to name him in their coverage of the case.

His counsel Sinead Prunty asked the judge not to lift the order, citing his right to a fair trial.

Ruling on this issue, Judge Malone said the matters before the court were covered by case law and not legislation and she was not satisfied that the "exceptional circumstances argument" had been made out by the defence.

She held that it was appropriate in those circumstances to remove the anonymity order in the case as it proceeds.