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Gang Top Suspect In Callous Killing of Abuse Campaigner
Irish Independent, April 30 2002, by Kathy Donaghy

GARDAI investigating the brutal murder of a high-profile campaigner for victims of sexual abuse are checking whether a local criminal gang may have been behind the killing.

The man, 56-year-old Maurice 'Bo Bo' Ward, who was heavily involved with victims' group Irish Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA), was blasted twice at close range with a shotgun in the hallway and kitchen of his home at Greenfort Avenue, Clondalkin, in Dublin in front of two of his five children and his partner, Eileen Murphy.

Mr Ward was known to gardai for criminal offences and had a number of convictions in the past, but had not come to their attention in the past 20 years.

He and Eileen had been living in Clondalkin for some 16 years. The couple have five sons aged between five and 11 years old. Mr Ward also had a number of children and grandchildren from a previous marriage.

According to gardai, around 10.35pm on Sunday night two men drew up in a car outside the Ward family home. A lone gunman broke into the house by breaking a panel in the front door. He shouted to Mr Ward's partner and two of their sons - who were in their pyjamas - to lie on the floor.

Mr Ward, who shouted to the gunman that he was in the wrong house, was first shot in the leg. He was shot a second time in the chest as he tried to flee to the kitchen of his home.

He was rushed to Tallaght General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11pm.

A wine-coloured Mitsubishi car, believed to have been used in the murder, was later found abandoned on the Old Lucan Road near the Dead Man's Inn pub. The vehicle, which had been stolen earlier, was examined by technical experts yesterday.

Detective Inspector Todd O'Loughlin, who is heading the murder investigation at Lucan Garda Station, said the inquiry was at the very early stages. A team of 50 gardai would spend the day and evening carrying out house to house inquiries.

DI O'Loughlin said while Mr Ward had a high profile in terms of his criminal past, he had not come to their attention in many years.

"We are looking at all possibilities but we don't have the motive. At this point in time we are baffled as to a motive for this shooting. We're certainly looking at everything surrounding his life in recent years trying to establish what the motive is. This is going to be a painstaking investigation," said DI O'Loughlin.

He said the fact that two of the dead man's children and his partner witnessed the killing made it "very callous" and he said the family was deeply distraught.

It is understood Mr Ward had just completed dictating his autobiography, detailing his time at St Patrick's Institution for young offenders in Upton Co Cork where he was sexually abused, up to the present day when he became involved with Irish SOCA.

Mr Ward, along with other victims of abuse, recently protested at the gates of the RDS in Dublin where the Christian Brothers were holding a weekend bi-centenary celebration

And just last week he had accompanied Irish SOCA co-ordinator John Kelly to St Patrick's College in Maynooth where the Catholic bishops were holding a crisis meeting to discuss clerical child sex abuse.

Mr Kelly and Mr Ward both had separate meetings with Bishop Willie Walsh of Killaloe and Bishop Eamonn Walsh, the new apostolic administrator in the Diocese of Ferns. Mr Kelly said yesterday that Bishop Walsh had expressed concern for Mr Ward's health after learning he was recovering from a triple heart by-pass operation only six months earlier.

A shocked Mr Kelly described his friend as jovial and compassionate, and said he was convinced the killing was a case of mistaken identity.

His devastated partner, Eileen, yesterday spoke of her grief and said she couldn't think of anyone who would have killed Mr Ward.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the gardai on (01) 6667712.

The Real Bo Bo Died When he was 11'
Irish Independent, 4 May 2002 by Willie Dillon

Maurice Ward was shaped by the horrors he endured as a child; he became a criminal and then turned abuse campaigner. His life was just turning round when he was murdered. The motive is a complete mystery. WILLIE DILLON reports

On Monday of last week, Maurice Ward travelled to Maynooth to speak to members of the Catholic hierarchy about clerical sex abuse. He was there both as victim and representative. He wanted to talk but, more importantly, to be listened to.

During a polite, but sometimes emotional, encounter he expressed a strong desire to finally bring down the curtain on this deeply painful part of his life. But he also said something which proved to be horribly prophetic:

"I will probably die soon."

He was referring to his health and the fact that he had a triple heart by-pass late last year.

Just six days later, he would be ruthlessly gunned down in front of his partner Eileen and two of their five children in their Clondalkin, Dublin home.

The motive for his killing remains a combination of mystery and speculation. Maurice Ward had a criminal past, but he hadn't come to the attention of the gardai for about 20 years. His murder could have been the settling of an old score, or perhaps a more recent one. Whatever the reason, gardai do not believe it was a case of mistaken identity.

About an hour before he was killed, he got a slightly odd phone call from somebody looking for 'Maur-eese', pronouncing the name as if he were French. Most people who knew him didn't call him Maurice; for most of his life, he was known to all as 'Bo Bo'. Family and friends think it might have been his killer checking to see if he was in.

As a youngster, Bo Bo Ward was locked up for six years for the crime of stealing a cream bun. Ireland in the 1950s was a vicious and dangerous place for a disadvantaged youngster who got into trouble.

He was just 10 when he was sent to St Patrick's Institution in Upton, Co Cork. There he was repeatedly abused, both sexually and physically, by a member of the Rosminian order which ran the place.

His experiences there left him filled with hatred, anger and resentment towards the Catholic clergy in particular and authority figures in general.

Ward was a complex man who didn't swear in front of women, but said that he wanted to kill priests. His adult life was undoubtedly shaped to some extent by what happened to him as a child. He left Upton with few prospects and very little hope.

During his criminal career he was involved in burglaries and fraud, but his speciality was receiving and disposing of stolen goods. He was recognised as an authority in the field, and he associated with some of the biggest names on the Dublin crime scene but there is no evidence that he was ever involved in drugs. A previous marriage, in which he also had children, broke up.

His fury at what happened in the reformatory consumed him. Around 1996, it steered him towards SOCA the organisation for the survivors of child abuse.

He went on to become one of its leading members, showing a passion and determination from which other victims drew inspiration.

It became an important safety valve. He took part in SOCA protests, and was an leading member of SOCA delegations who met politicians and church representatives.

He led the angry chants outside the RDS last month as abuse victims besieged the bicentenary celebrations of the Christian Brothers.

But that day's very public anger was replaced by hope when he and fellow SOCA campaigner John Kelly were received in Maynooth nearly a fortnight ago. The two men met Bishops Eamon Walsh and Willie Walsh; they also had a brief meeting with Cardinal Connell.

They were encouraged by the way things went and believed they had achieved a breakthrough. Maurice Ward felt that, for the first time, leaders of the Catholic Church were really listening to them.

John Kelly says his friend's distrust of authority was understandable, given the "mincing machine" he came out of in Upton.

"If you respected Bo Bo, you got respect back. That was the one thing which was lacking in Bo Bo's life, both as a child and as a grown-up respect."

His contribution to SOCA was indispensable, says Mr Kelly. He was the one who supplied the raw emotion. He had the ability to cut through the words to reach the core of the issue.

"He wanted to highlight the damage which was done and (see) those responsible brought to justice. That was his mantra. He didn't want revenge. He wasn't that type."

Among the last people to see Ward alive was journalist John Mooney, who was helping him to write his autobiography. The book was to be Maurice's way of putting his past the sexual abuse and the crime behind him.

The two men first met in 1998, when John helped to get him into therapy for the first time. The therapy worked wonders, and his anger against the Catholic Church started to abate.

Ward himself came up with the idea for the book about a year ago. He believed it would be a way of finally dealing with the awful events which had shaped his life.

Because he couldn't type and had never written before, he committed his lengthy story to tape. He passed the tapes on to John Mooney and Trinity College academic Jean Dunne, who also agreed to assist with the project.

The material on the tapes, according to John Mooney, was extremely well structured and extraordinarily detailed. It showed Ward had a natural storytelling skill.

He was brutally honest about his life as a criminal, and described being involved in crimes for which he was never charged. They included things that even his family knew nothing about.

He also named other criminals some now dead, some behind bars.

There is nothing at this point to suggest that somebody wanted him dead to prevent the book's publication very few people even knew it was being written and gardai do not believe it is implicated in his death. But they will still be examining the tapes in detail in the hope that they may reveal some clue.

Last Sunday, he recorded a further five hours of taped material with John Mooney, all relating to his criminal life. It was to have been their last information gathering session before the book's completion.

The journalist left Ward's house at around 6.15pm just as Ward's partner Eileen was arriving back from a weekend away in Galway.

Ward was relaxed and in good form; he was intending to take things easy for the evening. He gave no clue whatever that he believed himself to be in any danger. But a little over four hours later, he lay fatally wounded on his kitchen floor.

The book, which has the working title of Rough Justice, had not reached the draft stage. Its publication is likely to go ahead some time later this year. Ward had been looking forward to seeing it in the shops he had imagined members of the Rosminian order being embarrassed when they came across it in bookshops. He believed it was something the Rosminians never thought he would be able to do.

The gardai are still baffled by his killing, and at this stage they are ruling nothing out.

There has been speculation that it could in some way be connected with the murder of 22-year-old criminal Simon Doyle in the area last December. While there is no concrete evidence to link the two, all lines of inquiry are being examined.

Ward was no longer involved in crime but he still knew people who were. He did some work locally as a security man and locals frequently called to his home looking for his advice on welfare, housing or domestic matters.

Gardai believe that, whatever the motive, the killers knew exactly who they were looking for. The operation was carried out in a very callous and deliberate manner. His partner and their five children have since the left the house and will not be returning. Efforts are being made to rehouse them elsewhere.

John Kelly says the terrible irony is that, after the abuse Bo Bo suffered as a child, his own children were themselves abused by watching their father being shot. He had intended that any compensation money he might have got for his years of suffering would be spent on his children and grandchildren.

SOCA representative Noel Kelly, from Limerick, says he lost a good friend.

"I hope and pray that he's reunited with the 11-year-old who died in Upton, because there are two people in this, a 56-year-old man and that 11-year-old boy. I hope they are now breathing with the one heart.

"The real Bo Bo Ward died at 11 years of age when he was abused. What came out of Upton was a reject, a leper in society. All they gave us coming out was a bag of hate and shame."

The day before the burial, a representative of the Catholic bishops quietly, on his own initiative, offered the family €1,000 to help with the funeral expenses. The gesture wasn't publicised lest it be interpreted as somehow trying to buy the family off.

The offer was important symbolically. For the deeply damaged 11-year-old who shadowed Bo Bo Ward all his life, it was a tangible recognition and acknowledgement, after all these years, that he really existed.