Inquiry into deaths of Wexford family

 

The Dunne family at Wexford Park in April, 2005. Pictured are Adrian Dunne, his wife Kiara with their daughters Shania and Leanne Photograph: P.J.Bro
The Dunne family at Wexford Park in April, 2005. Pictured are Adrian Dunne, his wife Kiara with their daughters Shania and Leanne Photograph: P.J.Browne

The Government has confirmed there will be an independent investigation into the deaths of the Dunne family, whose bodies were discovered in their Co Wexford home yesterday afternoon.

Postmortems on the bodies of the young couple and their two daughters are still ongoing at Wexford General Hospital this evening, according to gardaí.

The victims, who were found by gardaí at their family home at Moine Rua, Monageer, near Enniscorthy, were named last night as Adrian and Kiara Dunne and their daughters Shania, aged three, and Leanne aged five.

Speaking this afternoon, Minister for Children Brian Lenihan said: "The Government has agreed that as soon as the relevant facts of this case are established, an independent inquiry will be set up."

Minister Lenihan said he had also sought a report on the case from the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The decision to set up an independent inquiry was welcomed by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which repeated its call for the immediate introduction of comprehensive, "out-of-hours" child protection and family support services.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was joined by other political party leaders in the Dáil this afternoon in expressing sympathy for those affected by the tragedy.

"I would like to offer to the extended families and friends of Adrian and Kiara Dunne and their two little girls and also to the extended community of Monageer and Wexford, our profound sympathies at this terrible time," the Taoiseach said.

The HSE meanwhile has said it is currently carrying out an internal review of the case and is examining all aspects of its involvement in this matter. It also said it would co-operate with any external inquiry.

Concerns were first raised for the family's safety on Friday after both parents contacted the undertaker to discuss a burial plot for themselves and their two daughters. It is believed they specified the type of coffins they wished to have for their daughters.

The undertaker informed gardaí who in turn got in touch with the Health Service Executive (HSE) on Saturday afternoon, having previously asked Fr Richard Redmond to call to the Dunne family home. Health officials only called to the home at lunchtime yesterday.

However, the HSE said it had contact with the family through its public health nursing service as recently as Friday midday for routine developmental checks with the children. It added that following the meeting, the HSE had no concerns about the Dunnes and that it did not have an "at risk" case open on the family.

The HSE also confirmed that its officials had been contacted about the family by the gardaí on Saturday.

The Child Care Manager spoke with a Garda Superintendent and advised him of the authority of the gardai to invoke Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991 to remove the children if they deemed them to be at risk.

Although gardaí had concerns for the family's safety from Friday afternoon, they did not call to their home or try to contact them over the weekend. Gardaí in Wexford asked two priests from the area to call to the Dunnes.

Garda spokesman Supt Kevin Donohoe said there had been no "omissions" by gardaí, whom he insisted should not be made a "scapegoat".

The Garda Commissioner has appointed Superintendent Pat Mangan, Kilkenny Garda Station, to enquire into the handling of this matter by the gardaí.