A new research study on familicide and domestic homicides has been announced. 

The specialist research will focus on the provision of supports to families of victims and international best practice in the carrying out of Domestic Homicide reviews. 

 Norah Gibbons, a qualified social worker with experience in the UK and Ireland, has been appointed to carry out the review. 

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan announced the appointment along with the terms of reference of the research study.

The study will look at ways to support families who are victims of familicide, as well as introducing reviews of such crimes in this country.

The Minister has urged those who have lost loved ones in familicide cases to engage with the study. 

"While familicide is relatively rare in Ireland, these horrific events have a devastating impact on those left behind," he said. 

Mr Flanagan added that he wants "to ensure clear protocols and guidelines are in place so the State can provide all appropriate supports and do so in an appropriate and timely manner". 

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

It comes nearly three months after the Minister met with the family of the late Clodagh Hawe.

Ms Hawe and her three young sons Liam, Niall and Ryan were murdered by her husband Alan in their home in Cavan in 2016.

Alan Hawe then took his own life. 

Clodagh's sister Jacqueline Connolly and mother Mary Coll are still seeking answers around what led to their deaths.

In March, they took part in a special RTÉ Claire Byrne Live programme when they spoke about their daughter and sister, Clodagh, and her three boys.

The review will consult with State agencies, family members of victims and non-Governmental organisations.

There will also be a focus on the laws around establishing reviews of domestic homicide.

Currently the coroner has a very limited role in determining what happened.

But a review along the lines of the model in England and Wales would allow the Garda Commissioner or Minister for Justice to order a detailed look at the case.

A similar approach here will require some changes to legislation.

The research will also have regard to the media’s role in reporting on these events. 

Today, in a statement posted on her Facebook page, Ms Connolly welcomed the news that Cabinet has approved the study into how State agencies deal with cases like her sisters, and the procedures and protocols around how they interact with victim’s families. 

Ms Connolly said she hopes the publication of the study's findings will lead to "societal change which more strongly holds the perpetrator to account for their actions, rather than implying they lost control or wrongly attributing them solely to mental health difficulties". 

She said that her family's experience has been the opposite, adding "these perpetrators are always seeking and maintaining control and, thus, carry out premeditated homicides."

Kathleen Chada, whose two sons Eoghan and Ruairí were murdered by their father, also welcomed today's announcement.

She said that it is important that people understand this is not about blame, but rather looking behind what happened so we can learn from it and prevent further homicides.

Ms Chada said that in particular she would like to see progress on inheritance law, and would like to see the parole bill coming forward also, which would increase the time a perpetrator would have to spend in prison before applying for parole from seven to 12 years. 

Ms Gibbons will report back to the Minister for Justice within 12 months and will be free to make recommendations.