Saturday 20 January 2018

Mum of girls killed by husband calls for mental health changes

Lynne Kelleher and Breda Heffernan

A WOMAN whose depressed husband killed their two young daughters before taking his own life says the Mental Health Commission is now going to investigate his treatment by the Health Services Executive (HSE).

Una Butler said she feels angry that there has been little or no investigation into all but one of the 36 murders of children by a parent in Ireland over the past 13 years.

"To take a child's (life) . . . it is murder," she said.

"Society in this country seems to think it is acceptable in some way because somebody is suffering with depression, that they kill their children and it's like it's brushed under the carpet."

Mrs Butler said her heart went out to Rebecca McCarthy whose three-year-old daughter, Clarissa, was drowned by her husband Martin last week.

"I don't know what to say to the woman. It's going to be so hard for her and devastating."

But Mrs Butler said she has been in contact with the Mental Health Commission, which has agreed to carry out an investigation into the treatment for depression her own husband John received.

Mr Butler (41) killed Zoe (6) and Ella (2), in the family home in Ballycotton, Co Cork, before dousing himself in petrol and driving his car into a ditch on November 16, 2010. A HSE probe found "no shortcomings" over its involvement in the case. Mrs Butler said the probe was conducted without her knowledge and she only learned about it from junior health minister Kathleen Lynch.

The HSE has insisted it had on-going contact with Mrs Butler and was fully committed to addressing her concerns.

Mrs Butler also wants the HSE to introduce mandatory risk assessment on the families and children of mental health patients to protect children.

And she wants the law changed to require medical personnel to involve the partners and families of mental health patients in their treatment.

She told 2FM's 'Tubridy Show' that she had been in contact with the Mental Health Commission "and they are eventually going to investigate".

Mrs Butler added that she will never forgive her husband.

"I can't forgive my husband for taking Zoe and Ella. They were my life and he took their lives as well. I don't think John, my husband, would want me to forgive him.

"It was just something deranged and I just can't forgive him. The guy I married wouldn't expect me to."

The Mental Health Commission could not be contacted for comment last night.

Irish Independent

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