The Commission of Investigation examining the response of State authorities to allegations of sexual abuse made against the now convicted child abuser, Bill Kenneally intends to call Kenneally as a witness.

The chairperson of the Commission, Mr Justice Michael White said it was the Commission's view that Kenneally should be called. And he said its only concern about calling him was a concern for the victims.

Lawyers representing some of the victims of Kenneally’s abuse said it would not be their intention to question him in any detail about the acts of abuse, and that their interest would be more in matters relevant to the commission’s terms of reference.

Kenneally is serving a total of almost 19 years in prison for the abuse of 15 young boys in Waterford between 1979 and 1990.

He was jailed for four-and-a-half years earlier this year for abusing five boys. That sentence will begin after he is finished serving a previous sentence of 14 years and two months for the abuse of ten other boys.

His trials heard he met boys through basketball coaching and groomed them by plying them with drink, money and other gifts while subjecting them to very serious sexual abuse.

The Government established the Commission of Investigation in 2018 to examine issues including the response of gardaí, the South Eastern Health Board and Basketball Ireland to allegations made against Kenneally. It is also investigating the knowledge of Kenneally’s uncle, Monsignor John Shine, other members of the catholic clergy and any political or public figures, about the offences committed by him as well as any contact between gardaí in Waterford and the Monsignor or between Waterford gardaí and political figures or public officials about the abuse.

Kenneally is a former tallyman and canvasser for Fianna Fáil. He is a cousin of former TD and government minister, Brendan Kenneally.

'Gardaí were understaffed'

Much of the work of the Commission has taken place in private due to the criminal proceedings which are now at an end. It has now begun public hearings which are due to last for two weeks. It is expected the Commission will have finished hearing evidence by the end of the year at the latest.

In evidence today, journalist, Barry Roche, who first broke the story about Kenneally's abuse in the Irish Times said his story was based on a meeting with a survivor in March 2013.

His first story was published on 23 April, 2013. There was a reference in his story to a complainant who was trying to get a response from gardaí about the abuse telling him that "gardaí were understaffed".

He said the motivation for the complainants in coming forward was that they had discovered Kenneally was still involved in basketball and wanted to make sure that he did not abuse anyone else.

However, they then decided they wanted him to be prosecuted for what they had done to them.

Asked if he had any contact with gardaí before 12 March, 2013 when he spoke to the first complainant, Mr Roche said he would prefer not to answer the question in order to protect his sources.

Journalist, Saoirse McGarrigle said she had written around 25 to 30 stories about Kenneally for the Irish Mirror.

She outlined to the Commission her dealings with the victims to whom she said she would speak regularly, as well as her attempts to get responses from those in authority.

Ms McGarrigle said one victim, Jason Clancy, who has since waived his right to anonymity, was very upset and traumatised when he reported the abuse to gardaí and it was subsequently mentioned to him by a cousin.

He said his cousin’s wife had a close family friend who was a garda and he felt he was being "gossiped" about by gardaí.

Ms McGarrigle said another victim showed her a medical file he had received from Tusla which showed that he had told a doctor in 1989 about the serious abuse and had also told the doctor that other boys were also being abused.

The file also recorded that this complainant had said the boys were threatened that they would be killed or hurt if they revealed what was going on.

She described another victim becoming "frantic" while trying to report the abuse to gardaí as he was aware Kenneally was still involved in basketball coaching and had a website encouraging parents whose sons wanted to play basketball to contact him.

Ms McGarrigle said when she tried to put an allegation to former TD and Senator, Brendan Kenneally that he became aware of his cousin’s abuse in 2002, he closed the door of his home in her face.

The Commission heard evidence yesterday from WLR FM presenter and former RTÉ South East correspondent, Damien Tiernan who made a documentary about the case for RTÉ's Primetime.