Bereaved mum to address domestic violence conference

Maria Dempsey will open a major conference on domestic violence next week — the sixth anniversary of her daughter’s horrific murder.

Bereaved mum to address domestic violence conference

Brave Alicia Brough was stabbed multiple times when she tried to stop Limerick man John Geary from killing his ex-partner and their daughter because they had left him.

Geary admitted murdering Sarah Hines; their five-month-old daughter Amy; Sarah’s three-year-old son Reece; and her friend, Alicia.

Ms Brough had been out shopping with Reece and had walked in on the attack at her friend’s home in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, on November 15, 2010.

She was staying with Ms Hines, who was afraid of Geary, and did not want to be on her own with two young children.

Ms Dempsey, who lives in Rockchapel, Co Cork, received her daughter’s ashes on what would have been her 21st birthday.

She has agreed to address the first Safe Ireland Summit on Monday to encourage people to speak out about domestic violence.

Ms Dempsey said she has lost the best daughter that any mother could have and does not want other families to suffer such heartache.

After Geary was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Central Criminal Court on July 9, 2013, Ms Dempsey and her husband, Paul, said Ms Brough had shown empathy and compassion beyond her age.

Ms Dempsey was pregnant when her daughter died and what should have been a joyous time was a time of tremendous grief. She wants to address the conference on domestic violence so people will know how families like hers have been affected: “We have to talk about the things that cause this.”

Ms Dempsey told RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke that her daughter had not sensed that Geary could be such a dangerous individual.

However, since her death, she had discovered that other people knew that he could be an extremely angry man but such incidents were not reported to the gardaí.

“She (Ms Brough) had said to me one time that, yes, there was violence there but that was three years before this happened. She just didn’t go into much detail.”

Master of the National Maternity Hospital Dr Rhona Mahony, who will also speak at the two-day conference, said around one in eight pregnant women in Ireland suffer some form of domestic violence.

Dr Mahony said about 30% of women suffering from domestic violence will experience it for the first time during pregnancy. She said the hospital tries to see women on their own when booking antenatal visits, so they have an opportunity to confide that they are in a violent or abusive relationship.

Dr Mahony said many cases are being missed. “I think there is a gap between the women who are disclosing and those who aren’t,” she said on RTÉ radio.

“We have to become more open about this in our society. We as professionals have to be more direct in our questioning.”

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