Following the Government meeting today, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has announced that he is commissioning an independent specialist in-depth research study focussing on two pillars:
i. the provision of supports to families who are victims of familicide; and
ii. international best practice in the conduct of Domestic Homicide Reviews.
Ms Norah Gibbons has been appointed by Minister Flanagan to lead the study. She will be joined by a small team of experts. The study will involve consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including State agencies, family members of victims and non-governmental organisations.
The Minister urged those who have lost loved ones in familicide to input into the study, saying:
It is important that those who have experienced this unimaginable loss engage with this study. I took great care in choosing the right person to lead this study. Norah Gibbons not only brings experience and expertise, she also brings great humanity and compassion to this important and sensitive study. Over the years Norah has established a track record of effectively leading collaboratively in dealing with sensitive issues in both the voluntary and state sector, as well as of cross-State agency work.
The first pillar of the study, dealing with familicide, will examine the adequacy and suitability of current policies, protocols, procedures and practices of state services in supporting close family members of those who die in familicides – and make recommendations.
Minister Flanagan said:
While Familicide is relatively rare in Ireland, these horrific events have a devastating impact on those left behind, both family members and the wider community. I want to ensure that clear protocols and guidelines are in place so that the State can provide all appropriate supports – and do so in a coordinated and timely manner.
The second pillar of the study will examine international best practice in respect of domestic homicide reviews in order to make recommendations in relation to their application in this jurisdiction.
The Minister added:
Domestic Homicide Reviews have taken place for a number of years in England and Wales. These reviews are important in determining the effectiveness of interventions to protect victims and inform policy responses. In my engagement with NGOs, it became clear that the UK model cannot be directly transposed to Ireland but would need to be tailored for this jurisdiction. This study will define international best practice and identify how these reviews might apply in Ireland.
The study will also consider how the media report on familicide and make recommendations on best practice, as well as how social media deals with such events. The terms of reference for the study were informed by consultations with, among others, victims and a number of non-governmental organisations. Minister Flanagan expressed his sincere thanks to all those who had helped inform the terms of reference for the study.
Ms. Gibbons will be free to recommend any course of action which she considers appropriate and has been asked to provide a report to the Minister within 12 months of commencing work, or as soon as possible thereafter. The necessary resources (accommodation, administrative support etc.) are currently being secured with a view to the work of the group commencing as soon as possible.
People may approach the office directly or through an NGO. Further public announcements inviting people to come forward will be made in due course.