The Murderer and the Taoiseach by Harry McGee: Why the Malcolm Macarthur case remains as grotesque and bizarre as ever

The garda who was rightly maligned over the Kerry Babies investigation is the hero of this compelling analysis of a notorious killer

Malcolm Macarthur leaving the High Court in 1983. Picture by Liam Mulcahy

John Burns

The easy way to explain Malcolm Macarthur is that the double murderer was predisposed to violence by a traumatic, lonely and abusive upbringing. He was an only child with no cousins and his parents had a violent relationship before they split up. At 16, he was bitten on the hand by his father, leaving a gash that required five stitches. That scar joined the one on his head, where he had been kicked by one of his mother’s mares at the age of four.