Justice Minister commissions independent study on family homicides

Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan with Norah Gibbons. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD is commissioning an independent study on familicide.

The specialist in-depth research will focus on the provision of supports to families who are victims of familicide and international best practice in the conduct of domestic homicide reviews.

"While familicide is relatively rare in Ireland, these horrific events have a devastating impact on those left behind, both family members and the wider community," said Minister Flanagan.

I want to ensure that clear protocols and guidelines are in place so that the State can provide all appropriate supports – and do so in a coordinated and timely manner.

Minister Flanagan has appointed social worker Norah Gibbons to lead the study. She will be joined by a small team of experts.

Ms Gibbons was a member of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, chaired the Roscommon Child Abuse Inquiry and co-chaired the Independent Review Group on Child Deaths. She was also the first Chairperson of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

The move comes after Mr Flanagan met the family of Clodagh Hawe earlier this year to discuss her murder.

The Hawe family
The Hawe family

Ms Hawe, 39, was killed along with her sons by her husband, the children’s father, Alan Hawe in the family home in Cavan in August 2016.

The study will involve consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including State agencies, family members of victims and non-governmental organisations.

"This study will define international best practice and identify how these reviews might apply in Ireland," Minister Flanagan said.

The Minister urged those who have lost loved ones in familicide to contribute to the study.

"It is important that those who have experienced this unimaginable loss engage with this study," he said.

I took great care in choosing the right person to lead this study. Norah Gibbons not only brings experience and expertise, she also brings great humanity and compassion to this important and sensitive study.

"Over the years Norah has established a track record of effectively leading collaboratively in dealing with sensitive issues in both the voluntary and state sector, as well as of cross-State agency work."

The study will also consider how the media report on familicide and make recommendations on best practice, as well as how social media deals with such events.

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