Father of three children killed by their mother calls for mental health reform

The grieving father of three children killed by his wife has said their loss hits him every day “like a sledgehammer”.

Speaking to Sky News on the second anniversary of the tragedy, Andrew McGinley said he is now calling for legal reform in the Republic of Ireland to ensure the families of those who are mentally ill can be included in their treatment.

On 24 January 2020, Andrew’s children Conor, nine, Darragh, seven, and three-year-old Carla were suffocated at the family home in Newcastle, Co Dublin by their mother Deirdre Morley.

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Mr McGinley is calling for legal reform to ensure the families of those who are mentally ill can be included in their treatment

In May 2021 she was found not guilty of their murders by reason of insanity and was committed to the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin.

Two years ago, Mr McGinley returned to his home from work as the emergency services arrived.

“I just arrived back and the first responders were there, the medics and the fire brigade,” he said.

“It was then I thought ‘where are the children?’ I discovered the bodies in the house when I went in. You just think ‘how does this happen to you, how does it happen to your family?’

“You read about it elsewhere. You just look for answers and two years later I’m still looking for answers. I know exactly how the children died. Now I just need to know why.”

Deirdre Morley had been receiving psychiatric care before the deaths, but Andrew said he hadn’t realised the full extent of her illness.

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Deirdre Morley (right) was found not guilty of the children’s murders by reason of insanity and committed to the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin

Shortly before the children were killed, he said: “Deirdre was talking about going back to work and was talking about recovery, about being nearly fully recovered.”

‘It left me with more questions’

Now the bereaved father wants legislative reform so that families of those who are mentally ill can be included in their treatment.

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Mr McGinley has honoured his eldest son, Conor, with a YouTube channel

“With every piece of information that came out in the trial, there was so much I was hearing for the first time,” he said. “It’s just left me with so many more questions.

“If I was included all the way along, I wouldn’t have those questions, I’d already know the answers. I just think it’s vital for the support circle of people getting treatment, where it’s appropriate, should be included.”

Asked if he has forgiven his wife, Mr McGinley said: “I can’t forgive how the children died. At the trial, it was relayed through the Garda files what Conor’s last words were, and they haunt me. It’s difficult.

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Mrs Morley had been receiving psychiatric care before the deaths

“I understand she was ill. The Dee I knew and loved was a loving, caring mother, she was a nurse. I accept she was ill, but it’s hard to process.”

‘You never recover, you cope’

Mr McGinley has now honoured his eldest child Conor’s wishes for a YouTube channel by creating Conor’s Clips, where he uploads videos of his children to nearly 8,000 subscribers.

“It was something he [Conor] had asked me about before Christmas 2020,” said Mr McGinley. “He’d started writing down ideas for what he wanted to do, and it was going to be little comedy clips and all five of us were going to be involved.”

“It’s helped me cope. Helped me manage somewhat. People talk about recovery. You never recover, you cope and you manage.

“I dread to think if I didn’t have Conor’s Clips, what would I be doing. Because every morning the alarm clock goes off and it hits you like a sledgehammer, what’s happened.

“But then the next thing I think about is what I can do for the kids, and what can I do with Conor’s Clips. That’s what helps me.”

Stephen Murphy vt

Mr McGinley says waking up every day is “like a sledgehammer”

Mr McGinley has also set up a charity for his second son, called As Darragh Did, which marked the second anniversary by allocating €16,000 to good causes, and a snowman-themed colouring competition called Snowman for Carla.

He says these legacy projects are a way of keeping his children’s memories alive, and help him cope with the trauma on a day-to-day basis.

“It’s to remember them”, he said. “It’s to remember Conor, Darragh and Carla. To keep the promises.”

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