5 years on, Monageer ‘could happen again’

It was the tragic murder/suicide of a young family that horrified the nation.

But more than five years on from the deaths of Adrian Dunne, his wife Ciara, and their daughters Shania, three, and Leanne, five, there are still not enough safeguards in place to prevent similar tragedies striking again.

That claim is made in a new TV documentary, which highlights the fact that the foremost recommendation from the Monageer inquiry, namely that an out-of-hours social work service be provided, has yet to be implemented. Tonight’s episode of Scannal on TG4 reflects on the days building up to Apr 23, 2007, when the bodies of the Dunne family were discovered in their home in Monageer, Co Wexford.

Questions as to whether more could have been done by authorities to prevent the deaths of the family, who were well-known to the social services and the HSE, still remain.

Chillingly, just days before the tragedy, Adrian and his wife made arrangements for all their funerals. But despite the alarm being raised by the local undertaker, the subsequent actions of the gardaí, a parish priest and health authorities were not enough to prevent the tragedy.

In the programme, former assistant commissioner Martin Donnellan insists local gardaí, who had driven by the family home a number of times in the days before the murder/suicide, had no reason to believe a tragedy was about to occur. However, Mr Donnellan did concede his regret that a patrol unit, which had driven by the Dunne house just two days before the bodies were discovered, did not enter the family home.

He said: “The only one thing they didn’t do, I suppose, was maybe call to the house and make some excuse for calling there just to see if everything was normal or as it should be.”

However, the biggest failing, claims the programme, was the fact there was no out-of-hours social service to intervene — meaning calls to care teams went unanswered until it was too late because t no one was on duty.

Another contributor, Siobhan de Barra, a lecturer in psychology, warned that other families remain just as vulnerable because there is still no 24/7 social services care.

She added: “I guarantee that if an out-of-hours service was available, it would be used regularly.”

* Scannal is broadcast on TG4 at 7.30pm tonight.

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