Bill published to allow minister to order domestic homicide review

Fianna Fáil published Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill to be introduced in Dáil

Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan published the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill on Friday along with colleagues Fiona O’Loughlin and Lorraine Clifford-Lee. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

Fianna Fáil has published legislation which will allow for domestic homicide reviews in cases such as the murder of Clodagh Hawe and her three sons in Co Cavan by her husband, Alan, who then killed himself.

The party’s justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan yesterday published the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill along with colleagues Fiona O’Loughlin and Lorraine Clifford-Lee.

The private members’s Bill will be introduced in the Dáil during this session. It will allow the Minister for Justice to order a review of the death of a person if it appears it occurred violently, or through abuse or neglect by a relative, spouse or a person with whom they were in a relationship.

At present there is no such legislation in Ireland to review cases such as the Hawe murders, though the Garda Commissioner has discretionary power to carry out a review. On Thursday, he appointed Assistant Garda Commissioner Barry O’Brien to head a serious case review of the murder of Clodagh (39) and her sons Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6). All were killed by her husband and their father Alan Hawe (40) in 2016 at their home. He then took his own life.


Domestic homicide reviews have been in place in Britain since 2011 with a statutory requirement to conduct them following a domestic homicide that meets the criteria. Some 400 reviews have taken place since then.

“Traditionally what happens is when a tragic murder like that happens, the gardaí go to the scene of the crime and they quickly identify the person responsible is also himself dead.

“The statements taken are those in respect of those who discovered the tragic scene when they entered the house and limited statements preparing for the Coroner’s inquest.

“The Coroner’s inquest is the only statutory response the State has,” said Mr O’Callaghan.

He said the purpose of the Bill was to introduce into the Irish legal regime the same system that operates in the UK, where the home secretary can order a homicide review.

Ms O’Loughlin said: “Such reviews could form a small but important part of Ireland’s response to dealing with this horrendous situation. We know from the UK experience that they have identified a number of areas where support services could be improved.”

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times