No lessons learned | 

Prime Time interview concerning violence against women sees mixed reaction from viewers

Miriam spoke to guests on Tuesday’s episode that included Professor of Psychology at the University of Limerick, Orla Muldoon, and Rose Callaly to get their insights
Rachel Callaly was murdered in October, 2004, by her husband Joe O’Reilly

Rachel Callaly was murdered in October, 2004, by her husband Joe O’Reilly

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

An emotive Prime Time interview on the subject of violence against women has created a mixed reaction among viewers.

Miriam O’Callaghan was hosting a debate in the wake of Daniel Murtagh’s jailing for the 2019 killing of Nadine Lott while the murder Sarah Everard by policeman Wayne Couzens in the UK has also highlighted the issue.

Miriam spoke to guests on Tuesday’s episode of Prime Time, that included Professor of Psychology at the University of Limerick, Orla Muldoon, and Rose Callaly to get their insights.

Mrs Callaly is the mother of Rachel Callaly who was murdered in October, 2004, by her husband Joe O’Reilly.

Monday marked the anniversary of her daughter’s death – one of five children in the north Dublin family whose lives were turned upside down by the events

Seventeen years on and Rose explained how said she feels violence against women remains as serious an issue nearly two decades on.

“Unfortunately it seems to me that there are a lot more of this and really serious cases happening since Rachel died,” Rose Callaly said. “I just feel it’s very, very sad to think 17 years on that no lessons have been learned.”

The murder, which took place at Rachel’s home in the Naul, Co Dublin, as well as the subsequent investigation and trial, became one of the most high profile in the country’s history.

O’Reilly was eventually convicted at the Central Criminal Court almost three years later in July 2007.

“Initially I thought I wouldn’t last. The first few years were very, very hard. But you do reach a level where you live with it. But it’s still eroding away at you … it ruins your life really,” Rose said on Tuesday’s Primetime.

“I don’t look forward anymore. That’s something you just lose. We always felt we had a great life which we had and we were very lucky and we had five beautiful children.”

Rose said that while she was aware early on of O’Reilly’s propensity to lie, she did then believe he was a good husband.

“He was a very good actor, I will say, and you saw what he wanted you to see,” she said.

One viewer who was moved by the interview, said: "Devastated for Rose Callaly to hear the toll it’s taken on her losing her beloved Rachel pointlessly by a narcissistic monster! Love and prayers for Rose and all her family."

Another added: "Absolutely hitting the nail on the head Professor Orla Muldoon. I have felt sick this week about stories in the public domain and so many that are not! Systemic change is the very least we need."

However, when Miriam asked Rose whether she thought all men were capable of violence against women the question angered a number of viewers.

One person wrote: ‘”Are all men capable of this?” A question from Miriam O’Callaghan on Prime Time speaking about violence and murder against women. "

Another added: “I find it incredible that could be a genuine question.”

“Miriam O’Callaghan has just acknowledged that most men are not violent but then asks “are ALL men capable of this (i.e. Murder) at some stage….’

A third said that it was a “ridiculous question” while another said: “That was a very unnecessary question.”

Sarah Benson, the chief executive of Women’s Aid, also appeared on the show and noted that domestic, sexual and gender-based violence remains a primary cause of women’s deaths.

Professor of Psychology Orla Muldoon also featured to talk about statistics of violence against women.

Meanwhile, Rachel’s father has said O’Reilly has painted himself into a corner by not acknowledging his crime, meaning he will either remain in prison for many years or faces admitting to his two sons that he killed their mother.

Jim Callaly said he doesn’t want O’Reilly to get out of jail.

During his trial in 2007 O’Reilly tried to claim he was at work when a burglar broke into the house and killed his wife.

But phone records showed he had travelled from work back to the secluded family home before returning to central Dublin.

It was the first high-profile case where mobile phone location played a crucial role in pinning-down a person’s movements.

As O’Reilly drove from Dublin city to The Naul and back again his phone ‘pinged’ a number of the masts it passed, including one at a quarry just down the road from the home he shared with Rachel and their two sons. Records of his phone's location were produced in court.

O’Reilly exhausted every appeal process open to him in trying to overturn the conviction, and has never admitted to the crime or shown remorse.

“If he is ever applying for parole he would probably stand a better chance of getting out if he admitted what he did,” Jim said.

“The only reason he would do that is to get out.

“But if he admitted to doing it he would be admitting to his two sons that he killed their mother.”

Mr Callaly also branded O’Reilly an “out and out psychopath” for bringing his two sons home in order to present an impression that he did not know what had happened. He had already telephoned Rachel’s mother Rose to say the children had not been collected from their school and creche and asking if she could go check on her.

“This led to Rose finding Rachel lying dead in a pool of blood in the house and having to run out to Joe O’Reilly to stop him coming into the house with the boys when he arrived home,” Mr Callaly said.

“And then when he was re-enacting what the killer must have done the eyes were popping out of his head looking at me and Rose squirming and nearly fainting.

"He has never admitted it was him and never shown remorse. But the courts found him guilty.”

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