A GROUP of families from Co Carlow, all of whom have had loved ones brutally murdered, are campaigning to have longer prison sentences for the perpetrators and are holding a protest at Dáil Éireann tomorrow, Wednesday 5 June, to seek better rights for the victims of crime.
Ciara Campbell was stabbed to death in front of her child by her ex-boyfriend Gordon Molloy from Ballickmoyler at her home in Carlow town in December 2007. Molloy was sentenced to life in prison in 2009, but he’s already been allowed out on day release and is due to be allowed out again to see his family later his month.
Ciara’s parents Paidí Campbell and Micheál Cunningham are protesting today with a group called Sentencing and Victim Equality (SAVE) Ireland that they helped to set up with other victims’ families. They are all particularly hurt by the fact that killers can apply for parole just seven years into a life sentence and are being allowed out on day release. The group also disagree with a proposal before government to extend the parole hearing to 12 years from the current seven years, saying that it’s not long enough.
“This is our first protest outside the Dáil. We have a petition looking for better rights for the families of victims. Our rights and feelings should be listened to. Parole hearings after seven years should be abolished; we want that pushed back,” Micheál told The Nationalist.
“Gordon Molloy has already been refused parole, but he’s back before the parole board again later his month. He’s also been allowed out on day release and is going to be let out again. We’re fighting to keep him in prison, where he belongs. He shouldn’t be allowed out; it’s an insult to Ciara’s name,” her distraught father continued.
Astonishingly, the founding members of SAVE Ireland are all from Co Carlow, with one person, John Whelan, from Co Kilkenny.
The families have all endured the most horrific and heart-breaking crimes, mostly murders.
The other founding members of SAVE Ireland include Kathleen Chada from Ballinkillen, whose sons Eoghan (10) and five-year-old Ruairí were killed by their father Sanjeev in July 2013; Angela Doyle Stuart, whose 24-year-old sister Lisa was strangled to death by her fiancé Gerard O’Hara at their home in Leighlinbridge in September 2009; and John Whelan from Kilkenny, whose sister Sharon and her two daughters Zarah (7) and Nadia (2) were all killed by Brian Hennessy on Christmas Eve in 2008.
The latest member of the group who will join the protest tomorrow is Melissa Gates from Carlow town. Her mother Laura was sexually assaulted, beaten and left for dead by her attacker Anthony Cassidy from Tinryland in June 2017. Cassidy was sentenced to 18 years in prison after Ms Gates was left with brain damage and life-changing injuries.
The group, who will meet outside the Dáil tomorrow (Wednesday), are asking people to sign their petition and to support them in their quest.
“Anyone who’s willing to come along and support us would be very welcome,” said Mr Whelan.