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Andrew McGinley launches legal action against HSE and facility where Deirdre Morley was treated

Papers were filed by solicitors for McGinley in the High Court yesterday.

Andrew McGinley with his children Conor (aged 9), Darragh (7) and Carla (3) McGinley.
Andrew McGinley with his children Conor (aged 9), Darragh (7) and Carla (3) McGinley.
Image: Garda Press Office

Updated Jan 20th 2022, 4:50 PM

THE FATHER OF three children killed by their mother, Deirdre Morley, has begun legal proceedings in the High Court against the HSE and a healthcare facility where she was treated before their deaths.

Andrew McGinley confirmed to The Journal that his solicitors have issued proceedings against the HSE, the Governors of St Patrick’s Hospital and a named person, after papers were filed in the High Court yesterday. 

Morley, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity of the murders of Conor (9), Darragh (7) and Carla McGinley (3) last year, also issued proceedings in an identical action in the High Court yesterday.

The children’s bodies were discovered at the family home just before 8pm on 24 January, 2020.

McGinley has separately campaigned for amendments to mental health legislation in the wake of his children’s killings. In particular, he has sought to ensure that mental health professionals engage with and involve the families of patients in who are in their care.

Speaking to The Journal today, he said that he hoped other families could avoid a repeat of what happened to his family if legislation was changed.  

“I spent two years talking about mental health and I just feel like I haven’t gotten anywhere,” he said today. 

“In two years, I’ve seen no change and the legislation that was first talked about back in 2015, amendments to the Mental Health Act still sit in limbo,” he said.

“The amount of people who have written to me expressing their concerns about their loved ones being in mental health care, and no change being made is appalling. It needs to change.”

McGinley said that he was not the first to raise concerns about the nature of mental health care in Ireland.

He spoke of Una Butler’s husband John Butler, who had been receiving treatment for depression, took his own life after he killed his daughters Ella (2) and Zoe (6) in the family home, in Ballycotton, Co Cork, on 16 November 2010. 

“She wasn’t listened to [about her campaign for changes to Mental Health Act],” he said.

“Had changes been made back then, then I will say to you here and now that Connor, Darragh and Carla would be alive today.

“So I will add my voice to her voice. People who might see whatever article you’re going to put in may think that this doesn’t impact them, but I was probably them back in 2017.

“I had three beautiful kids and I had a loving family and a wife who I loved. And here I am in 2022 having spoken for two years about mental health and the changes that would have prevented their deaths and… nothing.

If lessons can’t be learned “there’s not much hope for the place,” he said.

Since the deaths of his children, McGinley has set up three projects in their name to honour their memories: a YouTube channel for Conor called ‘Conor’s Clips’, a colouring competition for Carla, and a charity to encourage people to join projects in their communities for Darragh.

Solicitors for both Andrew McGinley and Deirdre Morley did not respond to requests for comment on the cases launched by both parents.

A spokesperson for the HSE said: “An independent review is ongoing. The HSE cannot comment on individual cases when to do so might reveal information resulting in a breach of the ethical requirement on us to observe our duty of confidentiality.

“According to the HSE’s Incident Management Framework 2020, when reviews are commissioned a service user/relevant person (s) designated support person is assigned.

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“Their role is to provide a key link between persons affected and the review process. When the HSE commissions a review this is the process that is put in place.”

Court reports from Morley’s trial said she was treated at St Patrick’s as an inpatient for four weeks from July 2019.

In the wake of the not guilty verdict last year, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services said it supported calls for an independent investigation into Deirdre Morley’s treatment and any other factors which may be pertinent to the deaths of her three children.

“This includes fully and sensitively investigating if anything could have been done to prevent the deaths of three innocent children, and to help avoid any family in the future suffering a similar fate,” the group said.

The hospital said today: “St Patrick’s Mental Health Services wishes to reiterate its statement issued on 21 May, 2021, which supported the call for an independent inclusive investigation into Deirdre Morley’s treatment, and any other factors which may have been pertinent to the tragic event.

“St Patrick’s Mental Health Services is fully cooperating with the HSE’s investigation, launched in 2021, and has responded to all data subject access requests as appropriate, in line with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR.

“A liaison officer has been appointed and offered to family members to clarify any queries they may have throughout the course of the investigation.

“St Patrick’s Mental Health Services is committed to the provision of the highest quality mental healthcare, including adhering to the highest human rights and child protection principles.” 

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