As I announced following my recent meeting with the Coll family, my Department is currently preparing terms of reference for a study about how best to support families in the most caring and effective way in the aftermath of murder suicides and work is at an advanced stage. As I have said, I envisage this study also examining the process of domestic homicide reviews and experience to date in other jurisdictions, with a view to making recommendations in relation to their application in this jurisdiction. I intend to consult relevant parties, including my Government colleagues and relevant experts, before finalising the terms of reference. I will examine any recommendations made, including any legislative change that may be proposed.
I have been advised by the Garda Commissioner that the Garda National Protective Services Bureau is currently developing new policies and procedures to inform its approach to domestic homicide reviews in An Garda Síochána. It is envisaged that these reviews will examine the sufficiency of Garda policies in this area, their interactions with other external agencies and with the individuals and family concerned.
I am also informed by the Commissioner that the reviews will be a separate exercise to the investigation of the domestic homicide. They are not a review of the Garda investigation, a disciplinary enquiry or a fault finding exercise. Their purpose is to serve as a lessons learned review to facilitate better practice in the approach to domestic abuse. My view is this is a useful and necessary practise and will assist An Garda Síochána in seeking to continuously improve their approach to domestic abuse. As the Deputy is aware, a range of other agencies may be involved in such cases in addition to An Garda Síochána.
The development of a special unit to investigate murder-suicides is an operational matter for the Garda Commissioner. I have sought information from the Commissioner in relation to this matter and will revert to the Deputy when that information is to hand.