I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
I do not think that, 20 years ago, many people in Ireland would have heard the word "familicide". Unfortunately, that is not the case today. Familicide applies to circumstances where a member of a family kills other members of that family and, in many circumstances, then proceeds to commit suicide, although it is not always the case that familicide is accompanied by the suicide of the perpetrator.
Although it is a rare, tragic and complex crime, unfortunately, it has occurred all too frequently in Ireland in the past 12 years. The Dunne family of Monageer were the victims of familicide in April 2007. Kathleen Chada's sons, Eoghan and Ruairí, were killed by their father in July 2013 in an act of familicide. There was also the tragic case of Ms Clodagh Hawe and her three sons, Liam, Niall and Ryan, who were murdered in August 2016 by their father and her husband who went on to commit suicide.
This issue was catapulted into the public eye by the powerful interview given to RTÉ's Claire Byrne in February of this year by Clodagh Hawe's sister, Ms Jacqueline Connolly, and her mother, Ms Mary Coll. That interview had a significant impact not only on the Irish public but on all of us as policy makers and Members of the Oireachtas.
Familicide is not a crime that is unique to Ireland. Unfortunately, it is a crime that is known about in the western world in particular. Much research has been done in respect of it in the United States and Australia. It is also the case that familicide has happened all too frequently in the United Kingdom and, as a result of the occurrence of that crime there, the UK law changed a number of years ago to provide for a domestic homicide review on a statutory basis.
I had an opportunity to look at some of the research that has been conducted on familicide in the United States and there is a significant amount of it. Unfortunately, it indicates that the most common type of killer who is involved in committing the crime of familicide is a possessively jealous type of man. It is also noted that one of the best indicators of whether or not a man - it is predominantly men who commit this crime - is likely to commit this crime is previous engagement in domestic violence with his wife or partner.
We also know from the research that there are some social and demographic factors that are related to all forms of family violence except sexual abuse. Those are issues such as poverty, unemployment and family stresses, which include disagreements over money, sex and children.
In Ireland, we need to recognise that we have traditionally dealt with these tragic events by calling them a great tragedy for the family and suggesting there is nothing more we can do about it. That was an understandable response which sought to protect the privacy of the remaining, surviving family members. It also sought to avoid embarrassing any family member by giving too much detail and coverage of the crime. We need to recognise that is not the correct approach to this serous crime.
What usually happens in cases in which the perpetrator has killed himself is that An Garda Síochána take statements from those people who came upon the scene of the crime. The only reason for the Garda statements is for the purpose of going to the Coroner's Court where the function of the coroner is to determine how, where and when the individuals died. That does not give us much useful information and we, as a society and a State, need to recognise that we need to do more to ensure we can learn from these tragic murders and events. If we do not, we will find ourselves going from one rare, tragic event to another without learning any lessons in the interim.
We need to look at the situation in the United Kingdom because we can learn from how they have dealt with the situation. Since 2004, the UK has dealt with domestic homicides through legislation that it has on its Statute Book. Obviously if the person who perpetrates the acts of familicide is alive, as was the case in the circumstances of Kathleen Chada, the perpetrator will face the rigours of the law, will be prosecuted, brought to justice and punished. However, if the perpetrator also took his own life, we are left in a vacuum at present with the exception of the work and inquiry conducted by the coroner. The UK introduced legislation in 2004 to provide for the establishment and conduct of domestic homicide reviews. This legislation, although enacted in 2004, only commenced in 2011. In the aftermath of a tragic murder, such as those to which I have referred, the UK authorities take a multidisciplinary approach to identifying any lessons that can be learned. The UK legislation specifically states that its objective is to identify any lessons that can be learned. The police, social services and local authorities, the latter of which have much broader powers in the UK than they have in Ireland, get involved in trying to produce a report on how these events occurred. It is important to point out that the function of these reports is not to attribute blame. The place for the attribution of blame is before our criminal courts but, if the person who is responsible for these heinous crimes is not alive, the attribution of blame does not rest with the courts and it certainly does not rest with the persons carrying out the domestic homicide reviews.
In the aftermath of the interview conducted by Claire Byrne with the family of Clodagh Hawe, other members of Fianna Fáil such as Deputy O'Loughlin and I decided it was necessary for us to try to put in place legislation mirroring that in the UK such that we could have domestic homicide reviews in Ireland. We decided to bring forward a Bill to amend the very successful Domestic Violence Act 2018 which was enacted by the Government and the Oireachtas more than a year ago. The purpose of the Bill is to empower the Minister for Justice and Equality, the Garda Commissioner or the High Court, in the case of it having determined a criminal prosecution for murder or manslaughter, in cases where they are of the opinion that the death of the person resulted from violence, abuse or neglect perpetrated by a person to whom the deceased was related, with whom the deceased was in an intimate personal relationship or who was a member of the same household, to appoint a person with appropriate qualifications to conduct a review that would assist in identifying and learning lessons from the death.
I note the clock has stopped which is slightly confusing for me because I am sharing time.