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Murder suicide

A parent massacres their children and their spouse, before then killing themselves – in recent memory alone it’s a brutal scenario painfully familiar to dozens of communities around this country.

Towns in Wexford, Cork, Tyrone, Limerick – and now, Ballyjamesduff in Co Cavan – all rocked by familicide: a truly monstrous crime worthy of the harshest, most merciless condemnation.

Of course, it’s unlikely that all the resulting reporting, commentary, evaluation and reflection on social media, in print and online will pinpoint what moment or moments in the 40-or-so years of Alan Hawe’s life lead him to do what he did.

So instead, here’s what is known: we know that three children – Liam, 13, Niall, 11, and six-year-old Ryan – all went to sleep on Sunday evening. And we know that they never woke up because their father violently killed them in their beds.

We know too that he stabbed to death his primary school teacher wife, Clodagh. Then finally, he killed himself.

On a weekend in August surrounded by people who must have loved him and trusted him implicitly – that man single-handedly extinguished four bright futures.

Clodagh, Liam, Niall, and Ryan were just a few days ago in their home, a place where they should have been protected and happy.

This evening, their grieving wider family not only have to grapple with the catastrophic circumstances of their passing, but they also have to weather what amounts to nothing short of the martyring of Alan Hawe.

Here are just some of the words used by national media to describe him: ‘successful’; ‘upstanding’; ‘torn’; ‘normal’; ‘highly-respected in the community’, and ‘tragic’.  

One local public representative went as far to call him ‘quiet and a real gentleman’. A neighbour shared that he was ‘very obliging’. Someone else managed to stress that he was fundamentally a 'good father' (really?).

And it is amid all this misguided fawning that Clodagh herself has been forgotten.

So much so, in fact, that Women’s Aid re-ignited its #StolenLives hashtag, while the National Women’s Council championed the Twitter trending #HerNameWasClodagh.

As that latter charity highlighted on social media earlier today, ‘minimising’ the actions of Alan Hawe only ‘enables the shame and silence which allows violence against women to flourish’.

Is there a stigma around mental health in this country? Probably. Could more be done? Absolutely. Do men find it more difficult to seek out support? Statistics very much suggest so.

But let’s not wave away accountability with nondescript sentiments of ‘oh he must have been a tortured soul’.

'Lots of people, men and women and non-binary people, struggle with mental illness,’ says writer and editor Linnea Dunne in a moving blog post on the Hawe deaths. ‘But it takes more than mental torture to brutally murder your own children.’

So instead let’s ask ourselves this: if an alcoholic man got into his car and mowed down and killed a mother and her three kids on a rural road one Sunday evening in August, our response would hardly be ‘we need to take a step back and talk about addiction’.

That man in Co Cavan is first-and-foremost a murderer; because of him Clodagh, Liam, Niall, and Ryan are all dead.

And no amount of ‘let’s discuss mental health problems,’ will change that.

Important information: The Samaritans can be contacted on jo@samaritans.org or alternatively call 116 123. Call Women's Aid on 1800 341 900. The National Women's Council Of Ireland's website is here.

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As further details of the killing emerge this afternoon, a shocked nation continues to mourn the late Garda Tony Golden.

The 35-year-old was gunned down in the line of duty yesterday evening in Co Louth by Adrian Crevan Mackin, a suspected IRA member who had been on bail.

Adrian Crevan Mackin afterwards turned the gun on himself

 

Crevan Mackin, 24, took his own life after shooting Garda Golden – who was unarmed, in uniform and responding to a 999 call alone at the time of his death.

The killer had also shot his former partner and the mother of his two children, Siobhán Phillips, 21. This afternoon, she remains in a Dublin hospital receiving life-saving treatment for her critical injuries, which include serious head wounds.

Siobhán Phillips, seen with Crevan Mackin, is in a critical condition

 

The Newry-native gunman was due to appear at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin at the end of this month. Following a joint Garda-PSNI operation to target dissident republicans he had been arrested and charged with IRA membership at the beginning of this year. 

Ms Phillips had already reported an earlier incident involving Crevan Mackin to gardaí – and her relatives had also expressed concerns for her safety. 

Meanwhile, dozen of tributes to Garda Golden – who had more than a decade of service to his name – have been made over the last 24 hours. The Garda Representative Association described him as "an Irish hero who died putting his life on the line for his community".

Calling it a tragedy, President Michael D Higgins said he wanted to express his "deepest sympathy to the family and friends" of Garda Golden.

Garda Tony Golden is survived by his wife, Nicola, and their children

 

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald featured on RTÉ's Morning Ireland today, telling listeners that the "death will be mourned by the entire nation, grateful for the service which he gave to it".

She continued: "Gardaí go out everyday, it takes courage to do their job, going out to face the unknown as they do on a daily basis."

 And local Omeath resident Marie McGuinness told herald.ie that the father-of-three “was a gentle giant and an absolute gentleman".

The garda had been based in the now-closed Kill O'The Grange station in south county Dublin, but was deployed to Co Louth some six years ago.

He lived with his young family locally in the town of Blackrock, and originally hailed from Co Mayo. 

Garda Golden leaves behind a wife of nine years, Nicola O'Sullivan, as well as two daughters and a son under the age of eight.

His parents Breege and David, who still reside in Ballina, are also said to be heart-broken and shocked by the tragedy, as are his parents-in-law, Tony and Iris.

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