Northern Ireland news

Justice minister Charlie Flanagan offers to meet Clodagh Hawe's family

Alan Hawe murdered Clodagh Hawe and the couple's three children
Brendan Hughes

JUSTICE minister Charlie Flanagan has offered to meet Clodagh Hawe's family to discuss their calls for legislative reform and a full inquiry into the murder-suicide case.

Clodagh's husband Alan Hawe (40) murdered the 39-year-old and their children Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6) before killing himself in the family home near Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, in August 2016.

In a Claire Byrne Live special on RTÉ on Monday night, Clodagh's mother Mary Coll and sister Jacqueline Connolly spoke of their heartache and the many questions that have been left unanswered.

Four weeks ago, they were refused a legal request for copies of Garda files from the investigation.

They called on Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to set up a special investigation unit into killings within families – and for all information gathered in an investigation to be shared with victims' next of kin as soon as possible.

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They also urged the justice minister to amend the Republic's 1965 Succession Act which makes the perpetrator, or if deceased their family, a beneficiary of the victim's estate.

In a statement following the programme, Mr Flanagan said the murder of Clodagh and her sons was a "horrific act of violence which shocked and saddened everyone in the country".

"I know all of us sympathise hugely with her mother Mary, her sister Jacqueline and indeed all the rest of her family," he said.

"I would be happy to meet with them to discuss their proposals and to assure them that I am totally committed to doing everything I can, to address and prevent the crime of domestic violence."

Mr Flanagan said his officials were examining proposals to amend the Succession Act.

He added that An Garda Síochána were working on measures to ensure gardaí "have the experience and training necessary to deal with a full range of cases of domestic violence".

"An Garda Síochána is also currently reviewing cases of domestic homicide to better inform its approach to domestic violence generally," he said.

In the interview, Ms Coll said Clodagh confided in her in February 2016 that Alan Hawe, who worked as a teacher, admitted he had been watching porn.

He started to go to counselling, Ms Coll said "and then an issue arose in the school so his counselling sessions went from dealing with his porn addiction to his issues at school".

She said that after the inquest they learned he was "dressing in Clodagh's underwear".

Ms Coll said that in a letter he wrote before taking his own life, Alan said that "when I go back to school it will all blow up", but the family have never found out was going on in his work life.

"Was he going to face a grievance? If he was masturbating in the school well at the very least he was guilty of professional misconduct. That was at the very least," she said.

Clodagh's mother and sister said they could not accept a psychiatrist's diagnosis at the inquest of Alan having depression, given that he had been attending his GP for five years without being diagnosed as depressed.

"We believe he was avoiding the consequences of something he was avoiding doing at work," Ms Connolly said.

"We have asked in the last number of weeks for the file of the investigation from the gardaí, we've been refused that.

"Nothing in this country is going to change if we just throw a blanket of the inquest, a blanket of depression, and Clodagh, Liam, Niall and Ryan, their file is in a filing cabinet now with reference numbers and we still don't know why."

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Clodagh Hawe's mother Mary Coll and sister Jacqueline Connolly speaking on RTÉ's Claire Byrne Live

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