Friday 24 May 2019

Justice Minister commissions study into domestic homicide

The study will review how families are supported after familicide.

Charlie Flanagan (Niall Carson/PA)
Charlie Flanagan (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, Press Association

An in-depth research study focusing on fatal domestic violence has been commissioned by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.

The study will review how families are supported after familicide, and international best practice in the conduct of domestic homicide reviews.

Mr Flanagan said on Tuesday that the study will take about 12 months, and cost “a couple of hundred thousand euros”.

The review comes after the family of Clodagh Hawe, who was murdered along with her three children by her husband, said they struggled to get vital information about the case from Gardai and other state agencies.

The minister acknowledged that his department could be more proactive in tackling domestic violence issues, after a spate of domestic homocides in 2019.

The object of the exercise is to ensure that the trauma visited on victims is minimised Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan

“The object of the exercise is to ensure that the trauma visited on victims is minimised,” he said.

“I was very struck meeting the Coll (Clodagh Hawe’s) family, the incapacity on the part of the state to deal with such trauma, and that’s why I’ve given the matter careful consideration over recent weeks.

“I want to ensure that clear protocols and guidelines are in place so that the state can provide all appropriate supports and do so in a co-ordinated and timely manner.”

Norah Gibbons, former chairman of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, and former director of advocacy with Barnardos, has been appointed to lead the study, along with a small team of experts.

Ms Gibbons said it was absolutely essential that those who have suffered familicide or loss through domestic homicide come forward.

She said she would not “promise the sun, the moon and the stars” but people would get an empathetic hearing.

“It’s crucial that those families are involved, they know what it’s like, and what would have helped at the time,” she said.

“If people are unable to travel to see me, I will be happy to travel to them, but most people like to come down and speak in the office because it feels the state is making a real effort on their behalf and taking them seriously.”

The study will involve consultation with a range of stakeholders including state agencies, family members of victims and non-governmental organisations.

The review will also look at how the media reports on familicide and how social media deals with such traumatic events.

The objective of the review is that a series of recommendations will be provided to enhance information and support to the family members of victims of familicide.

The review is also set to develop an emergency team protocol which would bring together key officials as soon as possible after an incident to review information known at the time, identify agencies who might hold relevant files, and identify what support is needed by the family.

Press Association

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