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Coll family deserve to know ALL the details; State reforms could help loved ones plunged into grief.

Byline: JIM O'CALLAGHAN Fianna Fail Justice Spokesman/ Dublin Bay South TD

THE harrowing circumstances that led to the killing of Clodagh Coll and her three sons Liam, 13, Niall, 11, and six-year-old Ryan in August 2016 shocked the nation.

The grief imposed on those closest to them who were left behind in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, is immeasurable.

The details broadcast on RTE's Claire Byrne Live on Monday have raised a number of uncomfortable questions about how precisely these heinous crimes unfolded and the distressing aftermath that followed.

It has now emerged that distress is still very much present for Clodagh's family, who have not been provided with vital facts.

Mary Coll and Jacqueline Connolly's request for information related to why their loved ones' lives were taken so brutally and prematurely is not unreasonable.

It is astonishing, in fact, that Clodagh's family was forced to endure a 16-month wait in order to access the letter written by the killer and which provided them with some insight, however slight.

There is no compelling reason as to why fundamental aspects of the investigation into their relatives' untimely deaths could not have been passed on to them sooner.

Clodagh's family do not need a court order to receive the basic information we know to exist with the school where Alan Hawe worked. It would be an act of decency to disclose to them the specific details of any investigation conducted by the school into Alan Hawe which the school may have been obliged to report.

The expert team tasked with conducting an inquiry into the deaths of a family of four in Monageer, Co Wexford, in 2007 made reference in its final report to the need for a national review of familicide.

It is my understanding that in late 2008 a group was established and led by the then director of the National Office for Suicide Prevention to examine this specific phenomenon.

Eleven years on and we must once again echo the very same calls for an inquiry and analysis of familicide in Ireland.

Because horrific acts of familicide or family annihilation are not necessarily common does not mean we should not do further research into the issue or have a multi-disciplinary unit in place to guide State agencies if, or sadly when, they occur in the future. Simply because they are mercifully rare should not lead us to once again brush it under the carpet until horror like this next unfolds in another of our communities.

In mid-2015, the Law Reform Commission recommended in its report that the Succession Act, 1965, should be amended to guarantee the perpetrator of murder or manslaughter could not benefit from their crime under the law of succession.

Unfortunately, we have had experience in this country of persons, in particular husbands, who have committed murder or manslaughter of their wives and have not been prevented from financially benefitting from their crime.

We learned Alan Hawe moved a sum of money from a joint bank account to his own account some time after murdering his wife. That should not be permitted.

It is almost 12 months since a Bill I introduced was passed at second stage in Dail Eireann that will amend the Succession Act and set out a statutory mechanism to prevent this from occurring.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan needs to prioritise this piece of legislation to safeguard the assets and/or estate of a person murdered or killed by manslaughter and in turn protect their family by not having to face the prospect of the killer or his estate becoming better off as a consequence.

An individual's actions cannot always be attributable to mental incapacity, psychiatric or clinical diagnosis.

St Patrick's Mental Health Services pointed out this week that people with mental health difficulties are no more likely to commit violent crime than people without them.

We must remember that, irrespective of the root cause of familicide, criminal responsibility must be determined under our criminal justice system.

Arguably the most wicked aspect of a crime of this nature is that there may never be an explanation that could help lessen the sadness or despair suffered by Clodagh's family.

However, by providing them with the information they seek, we may be able to reduce some of the pain they have endured through the immense loss of Clodagh and her three young boys.


PLEA Jacqueline Connolly, left, and Mary Coll, right, tell Claire Byrne they need answers
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 27, 2019
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