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HSE insists ‘intensive response’ remains in place after Kerry double-murder suicide

Lixnaw residents voice concern
Mossie, Eileen and Jamie O'Sullivan, from Lixnaw, who died last September

Mossie, Eileen and Jamie O'Sullivan, from Lixnaw, who died last September

Laura Lynott

The HSE has said an “intensive response was and remains in place” to support the community of Lixnaw following a double murder-suicide last year, despite concern from residents.

Members of the rural Co Kerry village spoke out after several months, saying they have gone without specialist support after Mossie O’Sullivan killed his partner Eileen and adult son Jamie.

Cath Houlihan, Eileen’s niece, spoke of the pain of trying to understand the tragedy months later.

Meanwhile, the O’Sullivan family’s neighbour, Norma Harrington, said she was “shocked” no government agency had approached the family or local community to offer support.

“We were expected to give statements. We were expected to relive what had happened. Not just my family – the whole community,” she said.

“What we really needed at that point was for services to come to our community to provide a space for the community to come to talk about what happened. That didn’t happen and I cannot understand it.”

The women also called for a reform of gun law, saying that a medical exam, including psychological screening, should be performed before issuing anyone with a gun licence or before renewing an out-of-date one.

“There needs to be trained individuals who are talking to people who hold gun licences and understanding what’s going on in their lives so that they understand that there are things here that may impact on their behaviour,” Ms Houlihan said.

The HSE said it had put in place “an intensive response” in the wake of the tragedy. This had remained “in place to support the community of Lixnaw”.

“Out of respect for the family and the community involved, we cannot comment on the details of what that response involves,” a spokesperson said.

“Anyone’s interaction with our services is private and confidential and we have a duty to protect that privacy.”

Lixnaw parish priest Fr Anthony O’Sullivan said: “It was an awful tragedy, but I haven’t met anyone who has verbalised they are carrying pain.

“Any deaths leave a sense of loss, and something like this is terribly painful. People should speak to counsellors, absolutely. If people need help, they need to get help.”

Fr O’Sullivan had only recently moved to the parish before the tragedy. “I had to go out to the people involved and the family members. They are great people. There was so much pain,” he said.

“People struggle with something like this. People should try to get support if they don’t feel they’ve been offered it – go for professional help.”

Farmer John O’Mahony, from Ballyreehan, near Lixnaw, discovered the bodies of Eileen and Jamie O’Sullivan.

He is determined to get on with life despite the shadow of sadness that still hangs over the community.

“I think I’m coping all right anyway. I’m working away every day and doing what I normally do,” he said.

“If I see things happening elsewhere, on the news or on television, that would bring it back to me as certain things would remind you of it.

“I remember for the few days after it happened I was very shocked and totally put out over it.

“It’s been a difficult few months, and it’s been way more difficult for some others living here, but what can we do?

“When people first met after it happened, they talked about it a lot. Now they meet and don’t talk about it as much. You have to move on as well. It was an awful thing to happen.

“Even nine months on, no one can come up with an explanation for what happened that night. But I do think for the people that want help, they should still get it.”

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