Bringing light from a very dark place

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the terrible murders which shocked a nation

It's unthinkable. Even at a remove, it's still close to impossible to fully digest the terrible thing that happened at Barconny five years ago.

The murder by Alan Hawe of his family before taking his own life was a national trauma. That trauma distils as it goes down; to county, to parish, to family.

We were all horrified by the events of Sunday, August 28, 2016. For the immediate family of Clodagh Hawe that horror is immeasurably magnified.

We are all affected by the expunging of the family. Affected by knowing, and others only then learning, of the joy that was Clodagh’s caring soul before coming to terms with the fact that neither she nor her beautiful boys are with us because of a singular incomprehensible action.

Since then Clodagh's family have lived in perpetual grief. That grief has been compounded by the slow pace of the State's response to their calls for change.

Some change may be on the horizon, as independent research on Familicide and Domestic Homicide, commissioned by the Department of Justice in May 2019, and lobbied for by Clodagh’s mum Mary Coll and sister Jacqueline Connolly, looks to be just weeks from finalisation.

The research could be an important first step towards legislating for the introduction of Domestic Homicide Reviews in Ireland. The efforts of Mary and Jacqueline to bring about that change has been immense.

They have separately campaigned for the provision of refuge accommodation in Cavan-Monaghan for persons escaping domestic violence continues. More than €60,000 raised in memory of Clodagh and her boys was donated to Women’s Aid and Cavan-Monaghan charity, Tearmann.

They have also lobbied for changes to State service policies or procedures supporting families of those who die by familicide be named ‘Clodagh’s Protocols’; and for alterations to inheritance law, which by succession has allowed Alan’s next of kin inherit everything because of the sequence in which the Cavan family died.

Clodagh's family were confronted by overwhelming tragedy. They have used their grief to effect change for those in terrible situations. There efforts are a source of light from a very dark place.

The anniversary will be marked by Mass at St. Mary's Church, Castlerahan later today, Saturday, August 28 at 6.30pm

For anyone affected by any of the issues discussed in this article, contact the Samaritans on 116 123, or for domestic violence services, Tearmann on 047-72311.