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Taoiseach on Deirdre Morley case: 'A shocking, shocking event that's hit the nation hard'

In an RTÉ interview, Andrew McGinley said that he has to believe it was insanity that led to his children’s deaths.

Updated May 21st 2021, 6:07 PM

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said the case of Deirdre Morley, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity of the murders of her three children, has “hit the nation hard”. 

Martin pledged that he would discuss with the Minister for Health the need for family advocacy in mental health cases, after her husband questioned the care she received. 

Andrew McGinley has asked to meet with the people charged with his wife’s care.

Yesterday, paediatric nurse Deirdre Morley was found not guilty by reason of insanity of the murders of her three children, Conor (9), Darragh (7) and Carla (3).

In an interview with RTÉ Prime Time aired last night, Andrew McGinley said that he and his family have a lot of questions, particularly after listening to the evidence given in court by two medial experts. 

“Some of it was new to us… so I need to understand that. And the only way I can understand that is from the people who were treating Dee previously over the last couple of years.”

He and his family are asking to meet with the medical team charged with her care over the years, to see what treatment plan had been put in place for her.

It’s understanding now what’s left for me… I can accept that it was caused by insanity but I have so many unanswered questions that I hope the professional services who were treating her can answer.

“I can’t be angry, the kids wouldn’t want me to be angry… I just think anger is a negative emotion and I don’t want to be angry. But I do need answers.”

He called on those suffering from mental health problems to seek treatment, but also urged them to involve a loved one “as an advocate” in their treatment.

“You need somebody who is fully aware of your treatment plan and your medication.”

Asked about the tragic case today, the Taoiseach described the Andrew McGinley’s Prime Time interview as “very heart-rending and very, very difficult”. 

I think we need to understand more on the psychiatry of this. And yes, I will engage with the Minister for Health and with the HSE in terms of understanding the clinical side of this, and the clinicians’ perspective. But also the need for advocacy, the need for family inclusion in terms of illness and psychiatric illnesses. But my sympathy goes out to the family, it’s such a shocking, shocking event that’s hit the nation hard.

He added: “I think we need to do what we can in an intelligent and sensitive way to try to prevent such such very, very sad events in the future.”

Taoiseach Doorstep 002 An Taoiseach at Government Buildings this evening. Source: Leah Farrell

The Taoiseach’s comments come as St Patrick’s Mental Health Services has said it supports the call for an “independent inclusive investigation” into the care of Deirdre Morley. 

The group expressed its “heartfelt condolences” to the family and said that “Ms Deirdre Morley spent a period of time as a service user of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services”.

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“Given the court verdict, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services supports the call for an independent inclusive investigation into Ms Morley’s treatment, and any other factors which may be pertinent to this tragic event,” it said in a statement.

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.

It is imperative that we identify what can be learnt from this tragic event. 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.

In a statement released by Andrew McGinley yesterday in the wake of the trial verdict, he said that medical expert reports diagnosis of Deirdre Morley’s condition prior to the children’s deaths “is different to her diagnosis now”.

He said this brought into question the HSE Mental Health Services’ diagnosis of his wife, and as a result, her treatment and medication while she was in their care.

In a statement, the HSE said that it can’t comment on individual cases, and that maintaining confidentiality is not only an ethical requirement for the HSE, it is also a legal requirement under GDPR and the Data Protection Acts 1998-2018. 

But, it added:

If Mr McGinely would like to speak to a member of Mental Health Services, the HSE would be happy to arrange this.
The HSE said that in the event of a serious incident, the HSE responds as part of a coordinated inter-agency response team. Depending on the nature of the incident this can involve other relevant organisations such as the Gardaí and Tusla.
“While the confidentiality of service users must be maintained, the HSE regularly meets with family members and carers to share information that might be deemed to be beneficial to the treatment and ongoing recovery of service users,” it said.

McGinley has said that what is keeping him going after the deaths of his three children is the motivation to keep their memories alive. He said that he has received the support of family and friends around him during the difficult period.

Three projects have been set up by Andrew in his children’s names: 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.

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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