Gardaí to be offered counselling after attending scene of Mitchelstown killings

Paddy Hennessy and Willie Hennessy were found dead at the family farm on Friday morning. Their brother Johnny was found later that day a few kilometres away. 
Gardaí to be offered counselling after attending scene of Mitchelstown killings

Gardaí at the scene near Killacluig church , Mitchelstown, North Cork this morning where the third body was found and recovered from the River Funshion. Picture: Larry Cummins

Gardaí who attended the harrowing scene in North Cork on Friday where an apparent murder-suicide left three brothers dead will be offered counselling and other supports in its aftermath.

Upwards of 50 members attended the scene at remote townlands near Mitchelstown, where Paddy, 60, and Willie Hennessy, 66, were found dead at the family farm on Friday morning.

It is believed that they died in separate attacks with an axe.

Brother Johnny Hennessy, 59, was found later that day a few kilometres away at the River Funchion, with investigators believing he died by drowning, after a search for his vehicle throughout the morning.

A number of high profile tragedies have occurred in the North Cork area in recent months involving grisly scenes, and it is believed that many members of the gardaí in North Cork and specialist teams will have been at the scenes of each.

Superintendent Liam Geraghty of the Garda Press Office said the scene near Mitchelstown was a difficult one for people to witness.

“There are a number of scenes and a number of deaths. It is not the first incident that we have attended like this, so we have quite significant supports available for members, including peer support and counselling services. They will all be provided to members who attend scenes of this nature,” he said.

 The farm off the Mitchelstown to Mallow Road outside Kildorrery, Co. Cork where the bodies of two brothers in their 60s were discovered.

The farm off the Mitchelstown to Mallow Road outside Kildorrery, Co. Cork where the bodies of two brothers in their 60s were discovered.

Figures provided to the Irish Times earlier this year showed that 15 gardaí were granted early retirement on psychological grounds between 2017 and 2019, while more than 16,000 workdays were lost due to the psychological fallout of dealing with incidents.

Almost €500,000 was spent in 2020 on providing mental health supports, the figures showed, doubling the spend of five years ago.

Research late last year showed that almost two-thirds of gardaí reported experiencing trauma while at work, while a quarter took work-related leave at some point.

A 2018 survey by the Garda Representative Association found that one in six members may have some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Friday’s tragedy is the second apparent murder-suicide to cast a shadow over rural townlands in North Cork in less than five months, while the area is still reeling from the gruesome discovery earlier in February of the body of a woman in a burning car.

On October 26 last year, a father and son took their own lives after shooting another son in a dispute over land in the Raheen area of Kanturk.

Investigators believe that Tadhg O’Sullivan, 59, and his son, Diarmuid, 23, killed Mr O’Sullivan’s oldest son, Mark, 26, at the family home after a dispute over who would inherit portions of the 115-acre family farm turned increasingly acrimonious.

On February 4 this years, the body of Mary O’Keeffe, 72, from Dromahane, near Mallow, was found in a burning car near woodland in Dromdeer East, near Doneraile.

Michael Leonard, 62, of Hillcrest, Glenosheen, Kilmallock, Co Limerick, remains in Garda custody, after being charged with her murder.

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