There have been exchanges between the Fianna Fáil leader in the Seanad and Labour and Fine Gael Senators over a need for a public inquiry into the death of Fr Niall Molloy in Clara, Co Offaly, 27 years ago.

Fr Molloy, who was 52 and originally from Co Roscommon, was beaten to death in the mansion of his friends Therese and Richard Flynn.

The matter was raised by Labour Senator John Whelan, who was standing in for the Labour leader in the Seanad, Ivana Bacik.

He called for the establishment of a public inquiry, saying there had been a conspiracy of silence and cover up involving so-called pillars of society, including in politics.

Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway continued to demand an inquiry as the Cathoirleach sought to rule the matter out of order because of the level of comment attached to the contributions.

The Fianna Fáil leader, Darragh O'Brien, pointed out that as the Senators belong to the parties of Government, they should be able to pursue it.

Later in the session, Labour Senator John Kelly also supported the call for an inquiry into Fr Molloy's death.

Independent Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell said she too wanted an inquiry into Fr Molloy's death.