Why did it take so long to convict prolific sex offender Bill Kenneally?

The former basketball coach first came to Garda attention in the mid-1980s

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Paedophile Bill Kenneally is serving an 18-year sentence for the sexual abuse of 15 young boys in Waterford in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

But it took until 2016, decades after the abuse occurred, for the former basketball coach to be sentenced for those crimes. That’s despite first coming to Garda attention in the mid-1980s when a brave young boy went into the Garda station on his own to report the abuse.

So why did it take so long for him to be brought to justice? Who knew what and when?

An official inquiry was set up in 2018 to answer those questions. Last week, for the first time, Kenneally, 73, was called to give evidence and he showed himself to be unrepentant.


His demeanour was such that the commission chairman, High Court judge Michael White, accused the grinning sexual abuser of treating the hearings like a “circus”. For his brave victims who again had to face their abuser, it was yet another difficult chapter in their ongoing search for answers.

Irish Times reporter Ronan McGreevy was at the hearing. Presented by Bernice Harrison. Produced by Suzanne Brennan.

Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison is an Irish Times journalist and cohost of In the News podcast