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Wednesday 23 October 2019

Shelved review of domestic homicides to restart

Clodagh Hawe
Clodagh Hawe

Shane Phelan and Kevin Doyle

A stalled 10-year review of domestic homicides, initiated in 2016 after the murder of Clodagh Hawe and her three sons, is to be revived.

The review ground to a halt and was quietly shelved after concerns emerged over the misclassification and inaccurate recording of crimes.

But Garda headquarters has confirmed to the Irish Independent that it will now be restarted shortly.

The decision was finalised following a meeting between Ms Hawe's sister and mother with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on Thursday.

Their demand for answers has sparked a renewed focus on women killed by their partners.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar weighed in on the issue yesterday. "I think a lot of people will recognise that there is an epidemic of violence against women. It needs to stop," he said after chairing a special Cabinet meeting to mark International Women's Day.

The 10-year statistical review will be separate to a serious case review also being launched into the Garda response to the Hawe tragedy.

Ms Hawe (39) and her sons Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6) were murdered in their home in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, by husband and father Alan Hawe, who subsequently took his own life.

In a statement, An Garda Síochána said the review announced in 2016 did start, "but was superseded once issues emerged with homicides in general".

The restarted review will involve a sample of domestic homicide incidents across a 10-year period being "reviewed in detail from a lessons-learned perspective".

It comes as Fianna Fáil has also published new legislation which would give the Justice Minister powers to initiate reviews into individual murder-suicide cases.

The proposal, which has been prompted by the Hawe family's public statements, is based on a similar practice in place in the UK since 2011.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O'Callaghan said too often, when the perpetrator of a crime has died, the State makes little effort to delve into the back story, apart from collecting "limited statements in preparation for the inquest".

In relation to the 10-year review, Mr O'Callaghan told the Irish Independent there was a onus on gardaí to complete this "promptly", as it was already years behind schedule.

"Without this thorough review of domestic homicides, the State will not be able to have a fully informed response to the scourge of domestic violence," he said.

"The victims of domestic killings deserve to have lessons learned from their murders, so that other women and children can be protected from the threats and violence that cost them their lives."

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has committed to making progress in the coming weeks on proposed legislation to close off a loophole that allows killers or their estates to benefit from their crimes. The private member's bill from Mr O'Callaghan has been dubbed Celine's Law after Celine Cawley, who was killed by her husband Eamonn Lillis in 2008. It has not progressed due to concerns the minister has that it may have unintended consequences.

Mr Flanagan acknowledged the importance of amending the Succession Act "in order to ensure that nobody benefits from a crime", but said it was one of 107 pieces of legislation on his desk.

"Certainly over the next few weeks, I would like to advance it. There is a bit of work to be done," he said.

"As Minister for Justice and a member of Government, I have to be sure that every piece of legislation is constitutionally sound, legally robust and workable. But I would expect to advance matter over the course of the spring."

Irish Independent

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