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“I have always said had I known what a lot of the clinicians knew, then Conor, Darragh and Carla would be alive today”
Andrew McGinley says he’s hoping to get answers in the coming weeks as to why his three children died at the hands of their mother, Deirdre Morley, in January 2020.
The courageous dad of Conor (9), Darragh (7) and Carla (3), who is fighting for change in mental health policies, reveals that the HSE review of the case is due to be published soon.
“That will hopefully give me answers or information that I don’t have in relation to why the children died,” Andrew tells the Sunday World. “I know how they died, I know that, but you still want to understand why.
“And I don’t believe I fully understand why. I think there are a lot of gaps in what I know and what I can see from information at the trial etc. I need to understand that a bit better… why decisions were made.”
In May 2021, Deirdre Morley was found not guilty of the murder of their children at the family home in Newcastle, Co Dublin, by reason of insanity.
“I’ve always said had I known what a lot of the clinicians knew, when they knew it, then Conor, Darragh and Carla would be alive today,” Andrew says.
“It’s to understand why that information wasn’t shared or why people thought it was better not to have family inclusion.
“That’s something I’m still campaigning for with the HSE and the Minister for Mental Health, to make changes like that.
“In relation to patient confidentiality, I firmly believe patient confidentiality should have been broken in our case, but obviously it wasn’t broken, so it’s to get a better understanding of that. The point in law is that confidentiality can be breached if the clinicians believe that the patient is a danger to themselves or to others.”
Andrew reveals that his biggest fear today is waking up to the news that another child has died at the hands of a mentally ill parent.
“I actually dread looking at the headlines in the morning in case there has been another tragedy similar to ours,” he says.
“There was one in the US the week before last and that hit me like a brick. It brings it all back. It was very similar circumstances. I believe the man in question went out to collect a takeaway and was only gone from the house for about half-an-hour. Would he have left if he thought there was any danger? No!
“I don’t know his circumstances, but certainly nobody had given me any indication, and I didn’t feel there was any indication [that his wife posed a threat]. I would never have left the kids if I thought there was any danger.”
Andrew says he woke up “annoyed and angry” on January 24, the third anniversary of his children’s deaths, because mental health policies in this country haven’t changed since then.
“I believe that you learn from the lived experience and, unfortunately and tragically, I’ve had a horrific lived experience. And if that can’t be learned from then there’s no hope, to be quite honest,” he says.
“These lessons should have been learned going back years when similar tragedies happened. I do know the one person that has campaigned long and hard, and that’s Una Butler, who lost her daughters in 2010.”
Una Butler’s husband, John, who had been suffering from mental health issues, strangled their two daughters in Ballycotton, Co Cork. He then ended his own life.
Andrew says: “Since then, Una has spoken to a number of senior politicians who were in positions where they could have instigated change, and yet no change has been made.
“Una has kept statistics and since the year 2010 nearly 60 children have lost their lives at the hands of a parent, while that parent was being treated for their mental health. I mean, 60 children is two classrooms full of children.”
Since losing his three children, Andrew has spent his time promoting them on social media and running a charity in their name called As Darragh Did, to fund organisations supporting young children.
This year, the Maynooth Students for Charity have chosen As Darragh Did as the recipient of funds raised in their Galway Charity Cycle from March 31 to April 2.
If you would like to take part in Maynooth Students for Charity Galway Cycle in aid of As Darragh Did, see galwaycycle.ie