Last night's special edition of "Claire Byrne Live" entitled, "Her Name is Clodagh", was a heart-rending, difficult and very upsetting programme and an important one from a public service perspective. The courage shown by Mary Coll and Jacqueline Connolly, Clodagh Hawe's mother and sister, respectively, in telling their story was incredible. There are many disturbing elements to this story and many of their questions have remained unanswered for far too long. Their loss was devastating. The manner of their loss was horrifying and savage, and stretches our human capacity to understand.
When a mother and her three sons are murdered by their father, it demands a comprehensive response from the State's agencies and that needs to be reflected upon. The family wants basic answers. They believe a full book of evidence should be published. There is no compelling reason basic information could not have been given to Clodagh's family much earlier. It took until 16 months after the murders for the family to see Alan Hawe's suicide letter, for instance. No murder trial would have been compromised.
Unfortunately, familicide is not new to Ireland. There is a sense that it is occurring much more frequently in modern times than in the past. There are serious child protection issues at stake. How robust are these protections? There are profound issues relating to mental health and psychiatry. How much serious indigenous research on this issue has been commissioned by the Departments of Justice and Equality and Health? How adequate is the State's response across the range of services when such an horrific murder occurs? Is there a co-ordinated and multidisciplinary response? Watching the programme last night, one got the sense that there is not. I do not want to be judgmental and I am not attempting to apportion blame but serious questions remain to be asked and responded to. Clearly, there are lessons to be learned.
Ten years ago, the report into the Monageer familicide was published, albeit that was in different circumstances given that family's interactions with social services on a frequent basis. Nonetheless, it might provide a template for the kind of inquiry and analysis that Clodagh's mother, sister and family are looking for. The Departments of Health and Justice and Equality need to co-ordinate strongly on this issue. The Department of Health states that familicide, murder and suicide are criminal issues for the Department of Justice and Equality. The Department of Health looks at it from a suicide prevention perspective.
On foot of the Coll family's request, is the Government considering an inquiry or some investigation into the circumstances surrounding those murders so as to develop a greater understanding of those circumstances and to learn lessons? Will the Taoiseach ensure that genuine indigenous research is commissioned on this very difficult issue of familicide in Ireland? Will he agree to develop a multidisciplinary action plan to guide State agencies in responding to such events in the future?