Murder-suicides sadly becoming more common in our society

Alan Hawe with his wife Clodagh and three sons whom he murdered
Mairead Holland

THE weekend's horrific events in Newtownabbey, in which a man is suspected of murdering his mother and girlfriend before killing himself, has again thrown into focus the disturbing rise in murder-suicides.

In Cork, there have been two such incidents in the past five months alone.

At the end of February, a farmer from the Mitchelstown area is suspected of murdering his two brothers with an axe before taking his own life.

Gardaí believe John Hennessy (59) attacked and killed Willie (66) and Paddy (60) on the family's farm.

His body was later found in a river, five km from the scene of the murders, following a manhunt.

Reports suggested that the killings came about as a result of a land dispute.

Newspaper reported that the brothers were avid sports fans who never drank and were noted for being hard-working, respectful and very private.

Meanwhile, four months previously, on October 26, three men died on a remote Cork farm.

Tadhg O'Sullivan (59) and his sons Mark (26) and Diarmuid (23) were found dead from apparent gunshot wounds.

The alarm was first raised at 7am when one of the sons was shot while he lay in bed.

A woman who was in the house managed to escape and call the emergency services.

A Garda Emergency Response Unit found Mark O'Sullivan with gunshot wounds in his room in the house near Kanturk village.

A short time later the bodies of his father and brother were discovered in a field around half a kilometre away.

It is believed that Mr O'Sullivan may have persuaded his younger son to join him in a pact to kill the eldest son as part of an ongoing argument about a will and future inheritance.

One of the most horrific murder-suicides occurred in Co Cavan in August 2016 when deputy head teacher Alan Hawe murdered his wife Clodagh and their three sons, Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6) before killing himself.

Mr Hawe killed his wife as she sat on the sofa in the living room. She suffered axe, stab wounds and fractured bones on her right hand.

The boys, who were found in their beds, suffered stab wounds.

Mr Hawe was found in the hall of the house. He had left a note on the back door to call the gardaí.

The case sparked a national debate about domestic violence and the type of men who abuse and murder their partners.

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