Deirdre Morley’s husband has “no doubt” his children would be alive today if doctors had kept him up to date on her mental health.
Ms Morley was last week found not guilty of murdering her three children Conor, Darragh and Carla by reason of insanity.
While the 44-year-old nurse admitted suffocating the children, the court heard psychiatric evidence of a rapid decline in her mental health that led to a delusional belief that she was a bad mother who needed to take their lives to put them out of their misery.
The children’s father, Andrew McGinley, has said the verdict was "probably the right one" and noted that everyone who knows Ms Morley understands how much she loved her children and how devoted she was to them.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, he said a loved one should be automatically appointed as an advocate for patients suffering severe mental health problems.
He said doctors could then keep that person fully informed of the patient’s progress.
He said it is currently left to the patient to decide whether they wish to appoint an advocate.
“In our case, Dee isn’t sure whether she was asked that question,” he said. “She can’t recall whether she was or not. We can only assume that she was asked but no advocate was appointed.”
He questioned whether a patient with a severe mental health issue is capable of deciding on the need for an advocate.
“The mental health illness is acting upon the mind and your mind is what manages your thought process – it develops your responses and formulates your decisions,” he said.
“You would have to suspect that a mental health illness is possibly or probably impacting on all of those, yet the response from a patient is taken as being factual.
“The decision they have tried to make, in a mind that is ill, is again taken as, ‘that is the response and that box that is ticked.'
“I have no doubt that, had I been included as an advocate, Conor, Darragh and Carla would be alive today.”
Mr McGinley said he only learned during the trial that doctors were concerned Ms Morley’s mental health was deteriorating in the months leading up to the children’s deaths.
“After Christmas 2019 and early January 2020, the family and the support circle – and we had a huge support circle – we were all of the opinion that Dee was improving,” he said.
“She was even talking about going back to work so we thought she was on an upward move and that she was improving.
“It came out in court that the services who were treating her thought she was in decline.”
He said the family was also unaware that doctors had told Ms Morley they believed she should be readmitted to hospital.
“When they were saying that her health was deteriorating, they left a major, major decision to her with the – I am saying the knowledge – that her thought process and decision making may have been impacted by her illness,” he said.
He said the decision would ultimately have still been Ms Morley’s to make; however, he firmly believes that a family member should have been kept up to date on what was happening.
“If you were painting your kitchen, you would probably turn around to say to somebody else, what do you think?” he said. “You would seek advice.
“Whether Deirdre would have taken my advice, it is hard to say. Ultimately the decision would have been up to her but I would hope the professional services who were treating them would know what is best for the patient.
“I think in this case, at Christmas 2019, they put a question to Dee about being readmitted so in their opinion they thought that was the best thing to do.
“They recognised that her health was deteriorating and yet we, on the other side, are thinking that she was improving.”
Mr McGinley said he is currently focusing his time on a number of projects aimed at keeping the children’s memories alive – including the Conors Clips YouTube channel and the AsDarraghDid charity.
“Carla wanted a snowman so I am hoping to set up a colouring competition for Carla because unfortunately, we don’t get snow every year,” he said.
“The two lads were prolific in their comic book writing so they had several characters that I am going to hopefully write books around and include Conor, Darragh and Carla in those books as supporting characters.
“So that is a very positive strand for me. It gets me out of the bed in the morning.”
If you are affected by any of the issues discussed in this article you can call Pieta House on 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444.
You can also contact Aware at 1800 80 48 48 or The Samaritans at 11 61 23.