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'There are so many questions': Family of murdered Clodagh Hawe call for more answers

Clodagh’s mother Mary Coll and sister Jacqueline Connolly last night spoke on Claire Byrne Live.

Clodagh Hawe with her sister Jacqueline and mother Mary
Clodagh Hawe with her sister Jacqueline and mother Mary

THE FAMILY OF Clodagh Hawe, who was murdered along with her three children in 2016, are calling for more answers.

During a Claire Byrne Live special last night, Clodagh’s mother Mary Coll and sister Jacqueline Connolly spoke for the first time about the unanswered questions regarding the murders. 

Alan and Clodagh Hawe and their three children – Liam (14), Niall (11), and six-year-old Ryan – were found dead in their Cavan home in August 2016.

An inquest the following year concluded that Clodagh and her three sons were unlawfully killed by Alan who took his own life after the murders at their home at Oakdene, Balcony, Ballyjamesduff. 

The jury returned verdicts of unlawful killing, due to head and neck injuries caused by a knife and an axe to Clodagh while in the case of Niall, Liam and Ryan, unlawful killing was recorded and the cause of death was stab wounds to their necks.

‘She couldn’t save herself’ 

Mary and Jacqueline have said while they did not want to do a television interview about the horrors of that night in 2016, they felt they had to. 

She couldn’t save herself, she couldn’t save her three children, so it’s up to us to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. 

“There as so many questions that there are no answers to and we owe it to Clodagh to be her voice,” Mary Coll said. 

In the Claire Byrne Live special, Her Name is Clodagh, Mary remembers the last time she saw her daughter and grandchildren alive.

RTE Claire Byrne Live Her Name is Clodagh - Jacqueline Connolly, Claire Byrne, Mary Coll 2 Jacqueline Connolly and Mary Coll with RTÉ presenter Claire Byrne Source: RTÉ/Claire Byrne Live

The Hawe family had called over to her house, as normal, the night before their bodies were discovered.

It had been a perfectly ordinary Sunday evening. She served tea and biscuits – they caught up, talked about work, talked about Lotto numbers. They had to leave a little early as Ryan was due a bath.

Mary wished Alan luck as he was due back at Castlerahan National School, where he was vice-principal, the next morning. She remembered he wasn’t looking forward to going back after the summer break.

Looking for answers

Four weeks ago, Mary and Jacqueline were officially refused their legal request for copies of the garda files from the investigation into the murders. They are now seeking more answers. 

The family are also calling on Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to set up a special investigation unit for familicide and family annihilation. 

“There was no initial support. I remember the Monday myself and mam trying to contact people and there was nobody there. There was no initial person with us on the say to say, you know, this has happened and take time or anything like that,” Jacqueline said. 

We were seeing things online, we were ringing our family liaison officer at one point to say ‘please tell me he didn’t kill her with an axe’. So it was the media that was informing us more so than anybody else initially.

They are seeking all information gathered in the course of an investigation to be shared as soon as practicable with the next of kin.

“Two weeks before the inquest we got a copy of his letter, which was 16 months after it happened. Having to wait over a year, as we did, to have sight of the complete murder/suicide letter is wrong on so many levels,” Jacqueline said. 

Hawe family inquest Clodagh Hawe's mother Mary Coll (right) and sister Jacqueline Connelly leaving Cavan Court House following the inquest into the deaths of the Hawe family. Source: Brian Lawless/PA Images

They propose that immediately after the conclusion of an inquest in the case of a familicide and family annihilation, that a book of evidence is published and that Tusla, the Child and Family Protection Agency, is responsible for independently monitoring all such cases and maintaining research on familicide perpetrators. 

The family has also called for a review of the Coroner’s Act and laws surrounding exhumations. 

The next day after the funeral, we went to the graves and the horror of what we’d done, the stupor in our trauma, we had buried him with them.

“We were initially told it would be no problem to have him moved but then we realised that the exhumation could not happen [until] Alan Hawes’ next of kin applied for him to be moved. So we asked the Hawe family to move him. Eventually, they allowed it to happen,” Jacqueline said. 

Furthermore, they have called on Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to amend the Succession Act, 1965, as the act currently makes the perpetrator, or if deceased, their family a beneficiary to of the estate. 

2017 inquest

During the 2017 inquest, the jury heard from psychiatry Professor Harry Kennedy who compiled a report on the deaths for coroner Dr Mary Flanagan.

Kennedy said that since 2008 Alan Hawe had suffered with “somatic [physical] anxieties without basis in reality” that “developed into severe and pervasive preoccupations” with his physical condition.

Earlier in the hearing, the court heard from David McConnell, a counsellor, who Alan Hawe attended over 10 sessions from March to June, 2016.

In their last session, on 21 June, Hawe appeared stressed but spoke: “openly and emotionally”.

Alan Hawe told his counsellor: “People think of me as a pillar of the community… if only they knew.” He then “wept”, at which point McConnell said the two felt a connection.

McConnell said Hawe had a “fear of shame and of being less than perfect”.

Now, Mary and Jacqueline want to fill in the gaps and find out why Alan Hawe murdered his family, hoping that the gaps can be filled by those who may have more information about him and who he really was.

Anyone affected by issues raised in last night’s Claire Byrne Live programme can contact: 

  • Samaritans on 116 123
  • Pieta House on 1800 247 247
  • Childline on 1800 66 66 66, or text “support” to 50101
  • Women’s Aid on 1800 341 900

With reporting by Adam Daly

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