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Friday 24 May 2019

Familicide review welcome but will not help in the short term - Kathleen Chada

  • Justice Minister plans an independent research study
  • Kathleen Chada's two sons were killed by their father on July 29, 2013
  • Ms Chada welcomes study but says moves must be taken for short-term support
Kathleen Chada. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Kathleen Chada. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Callum Lavery and Kevin Doyle

The mother of two boys murdered by their own father has said that a new study on victims of familicide will not help victims in the short term.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan brought to Cabinet his plan for an independent research study on supports to people whose relatives have been killed by a family member. 

However, Kathleen Chada, who's husband Sanjeev murdered their sons Eoghan (10) and Ruairi (5) on July 29, 2013 said that while the study is welcomed, moves must be taken to support families in the short term.

“While we will support the study announced by the Minister, it just feels like a start and it should not delay supporting families at this point,” said Ms Chada. 

Eoghan and Ruairi Chada
Eoghan and Ruairi Chada

“At the end of the day we know statistically and historically that more women and children may be killed while this study is being conducted.

"And so we have to ask what more is going to be done in the immediate to prevent more women and children being killed and what will be done to respond to families now.

Speaking on RTÉ's Sean O'Rourke Show, Ms Chada said: "What he is suggesting is in two parts, so he's looking for the provision of supports for families and the victims of femicide, and the application of domestic homicide reviews (DHR) in Ireland.

"A DHR itself is a independent multi agency review into the circumstances around a death, it isn’t a criminal investigation, so it is not about assigning blame.

"In a way, what a DHR is looking at life through the eyes of the victims. It’s speaking to family, to friends, to the community and to other professionals.

"It is giving us answers potentially, so what we will hope is that by looking at the history behind each domestic homicide that those answers will give us something going forward that will prevent future homicides."

The appointment was made by the Cabinet in response to the public campaign by the mother and sister of murder Clodagh Hawe.

Ms Hawe and her three children - Liam (14), Niall (11), and six-year-old Ryan - suffered a gruesome death at the hands of her husband Alan in August 2016.

Her mother Mary Coll and sister Jacqueline Connolly have lobbied Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan for changes in the way the State responds to such events.

They met with the minister as recently as last week.

The news of the review has been welcomed by Ms Coll, and Ms Connolly.

They said that the study will be a first step on the way to providing a lasting legacy for Ms Hawe and her children.

They said in a statement: "We very much welcome the news that the Cabinet today approved an independent research study into how the State Authorities and Agencies deal with cases of familicide and the procedures and protocols governing how they interact with the victims’ families.

"The study will examine international best practice, including Domestic Homicide Reviews; this will mark significant progress as, over time, it is hoped that these multi-agency reviews will be introduced in Ireland.

"Domestic Homicide Reviews will assist in profiling the perpetrators of such crimes and will contribute to creating a better understanding for partners, families and communities of the early warning signs of coercive control in the home.

"We also hope that the publication of the study’s findings will lead to a societal change which more strongly holds the perpetrator to account for their actions, rather than implying that they lost control or wrongly attributing them solely to mental health difficulties. Our experience has been the opposite: these perpetrators are always seeking and maintaining control and, thus, carry out premeditated homicides.

"Further, with other families who have suffered domestic homicide, we continue to campaign for a change to the laws regarding succession, which currently mean that the perpetrator or his/her family inherits the victim’s estate."

Ms Coll and Ms Connolly thanked Minister Flanagan for meeting with them and for facilitating the study.

They added: "The strength of Clodagh, Liam, Niall and Ryan's legacy will be felt in the impact of this study and the positive steps forward towards a safer society that it will make."

The woman appointed to head up a review of how the State deals with cases of familicide has said the involvement of survivors will be "crucial" to her work.

Former Tusla chairperson Norah Gibbons was today announced as the person responsible for leading an in-depth study into the supports available for families.

Mr Flanagan said today that it’s important for other families "who have experienced this unimaginable loss engage with this study".

Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, the minister said Ms Gibbons would bring "great humanity and compassion" to the project.

She is to set up an office in Dublin city centre and will launch a national appeal for relatives of familicide victims to come forward.

The Minister could not put a definite figure on the budget available for her work but said it would be in the region of €200,000.

Ms Gibbons will be expected to report back within 12 months.

She told reporters she was "honoured" to be approached about the study.

"I think I can help," she said, adding that her office wouldn’t be promising "the sun, moon and stars".

The study will also consider how the media report on familicide. The terms of reference say Ms Gibbons will consult the Press Ombudsman, The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, the National Union of Journalists and other relevant bodies.

Ms Gibbons will also consider how social deal deals with such events.

Ms Connolly has told how "online keyboard warriors relentlessly attack us" after the family initially allowed Alan Hawe to be buried beside his victims.

"In the stupor of our grieving, literally within hours of trying to come to terms with our loss, without thinking, we agreed to all the family being buried together."

Women and children's charity, Safe Ireland said that the proposal "is an acknowledgement that State agencies have to date failed families living with the trauma of family murder."

Programme and Communications Manager with Safe Ireland, Caitriona Gleeson said that the study is long overdue.

"We welcome this review as the critical basis for the long awaited model of homicide reviews that we so desperately need in this country," said Gleeson.

"We have to get this right for the many families that have been left hanging without adequate supports, advice and counselling. We also have to do everything we can to prevent further murders of women and children."

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article please contact AdVIC (Advocates for Victims of Homicide) on 1800 852 000 email info@advic.ie.

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