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  • Senator Sharon Keogan

Senator Sharon Keogan - Murder Suicides In Our Rural Communities

It was great to be back in our own chamber – I hope as we approach the October 22nd lifting of restrictions that other aspects of life in Leinster House will likewise return to normal. Today I'd like to call for a debate on what is to be done about the horrific instances of murder-suicides in our rural farming communities. Yesterday morning a woman and her 24-year-old son were laid to rest in Kerry. “Kind, gentle” people taken from us by a wanton act of violence. The tragedy comes while the terrible happenings of October 26th last, in Kanturk, Cork are still fresh in our minds, when father and brother turned on their own family and then themselves. While the prevalence of firearms in these communities enables these vicious acts, it is all too often a land or farm ownership dispute which causes them. We need to critically examine the processes or programmes in place to educate farming families on their rights with regards disinheritance and land ownership protection. We need a dedicated support process for families engaged in disputes over wills. We need to look at the role which can be played by the Minister of Agriculture and his Department, as well as the Irish Farming Association, in the provision of mental health supports in our rural communities – the increased attention being paid to mental health in the past number of years is of immense importance, but we cannot allow it to be confined to student unions and Twitter campaigns. These senseless killings and suicides will only become more prevalent if the underlying issues are not addressed. It is safe to say that in every parish in our countryside there is a family farm affected by land disputes, and farmers listening in to this today will know someone affected. We’ve seen over the past year-and-a-half the lengths which we will go to to protect lives. Let’s protect these lives also.

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