'The list of victims gets longer every year'
Barbara Clinton says her life changed forever when she was told that her father Patrick (59) had been killed in the course of a robbery in Ardee, Co Louth.
In the aftermath of the killing, Barbara (pictured), who lives in Mayo, found that there was very little help given by the State to the families of homicide victims.
Barbara's father was killed as two men robbed him of his Christmas social welfare payment in December 2000.
Despite initial sentences of 17 and 14 years being handed down for the killing, both jail terms were reduced on appeal.
"I found at the time that we had to fight for every bit of information about the case, and the length of time it took for the case to get to trial was extremely frustrating," Barbara recalls.
She got in touch with the group AdVIC, Advocates for Victims of Homicide, and as the current chairman devotes herself to helping families come to deal with the traumatic experience.
The group supports the families of victims of murder, manslaughter or any unlawful killing.
The group does not have its own office and relies totally on the voluntary work of its members, with some state funding.
When a killing happens, AdVIC gets in touch with the Garda Family Liaison Officer involved with the case.
"We can provide a booklet that gives people advice and informs them that they can come to us if they need our support," says Ms Clinton.
When the families of victims cannot cope with the enormity of their loss, they can receive bereavement counselling.
AdVIC also campaign on the issue of prison sentencing and believes sentences are not long enough to deter criminal activity, and to ensure that offenders are not circulating to commit further offences.
"The problem with the present system is that it is only really a life sentence for the victim's family," says Barbara.
Ms Clinton said both the killers of her father left jail after a relatively short time, and returned to Ardee.
AdVIC holds a remembrance ceremony every two years for those bereaved through homicide.
"All the names of the victims are read during the ceremony - and the list gets longer every year," says Ms Clinton.
AdVIC is holding group counselling sessions for the families of homicide victims in Dublin on June 11 and in Limerick on June 14. More information: Advic.ie (086) 1272156