THE mother of a Cork woman murdered with her best friend and her friend’s two children has welcomed a report on how the coroner system can be improved for families.
Maria Dempsey from Rockchapel was reacting to last week’s publication of the ‘Left Out In The Cold’ report, published by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.
The report was authored by Professor Phil Scraton — a key figure in the Hillsborough investigation, and Gillian McNaull, both of Queen’s University Belfast.
It focussed heavily on the coroners system in Ireland and raised concerns around the area.
The report found that the bulk of coronial work is carried out by part-time coroners who are dependent on limited administration staff and garda investigators. It recommends a more family-centred process.
Ms Dempsey said: “There are some important recommendations that will be very impactful...for instance access to legal aid.
“The financial costs on family can be an obstacle for some so forming inequalities. Therapy and counselling should always be with specialist services.”
Maria’s 21-year-old daughter Alicia Brough was murdered when she tried to save her friend Sarah Hines and her baby daughter Amy when they were being attacked by Sarah’s ex, John Geary.
Both women were killed, along with the baby and Sarah Hines’s older son Reece, in November 2011.
The bodies were not discovered until the following day.
John Geary from Milford pleaded guilty to the four murders and was sentenced to life in prison.
Maria Dempsey has campaigned for improvements in the law for cases of domestic homicide. She said that a victims commissioner would be a very important provision for people affected by crimes, ensuring their voice is heard and their rights upheld.
She believes that there is currently a fractured approach for victims, with different types of crime victims represented by different groups.
She says there is a need for one permanent strong voice, such as a Victims Commissioner, who will represent the views and voices of victims, ensuring that victims’ matters do not only come to the fore when there is a campaign such as the present one against gender-based violence.
A call for the establishment of a Victims Commissioner role in Ireland was raised at a recent sitting of the Citizens Assembly, tackling the issue of gender-based violence.
Ms Dempsey is a vocal supporter of domestic homicide reviews, which are already in place in England and Wales.