Something has been bothering me for the last few days and I have hesitated to post as the events are so fresh. However after reading the most recent Irish Times coverage I feel compelled to.
As we all probably know by now, a horrible event took place in West Cork where local farmer Martin McCarthy drowned his three year old daughter and then himself. Apparently he planned to kill his daughter because his marriage was disintegrating and he feared his wife would take the daughter away from him. This was written in a long and detailed explanation note which his wife found and which sparked a search, leading to the discovery of the bodies of father and daughter.
Family in shock as Cork father who drowned his child defends himself in suicide note
Community mourns father and daughter - The Irish Times - Fri, Mar 08, 2013
At the funeral which was today, framed photos of Mr McCarthy and of little Clarissa holding a flower were placed upon the coffin along with a cuddly white sheep.
Chief celebrant, Fr Anthony O’Mahony spoke of the loss in the following terms:
"We never know what goes on in a person’s head - if we did, maybe we wouldn’t be here," said Fr O’Mahony as he remembered the popular farmer and the daughter to whom he was devoted and who clearly lit up his life with her arrival in 2009.
Fr O’Mahony told the packed church with mourners spilling out into the church yard that although God "did not call Clarissa and Martin", now that they were with him, "he will not turn away from them but will look after them."" It is said that Mr McCarthy’s in-law told the funeral congregation how devoted he was to his daughter. The events are spoken of in terms of a 'tragedy.'
I find the sympathetic narrative that invariably surrounds such events, where men and women kill their own children, to be entirely inappropriate. It seems that the basic fact of the matter, that a child or children deliberately had their lives snuffed out, is avoided. It seems that much of the media coverage is referring to the killing of an innocent three year old girl by one of her parents as an 'accident' and a 'tragedy.' In my mind it is neither of these things. Obviously something drove the man to do such an evil thing but the fact remains - he and he alone is responsible for ending the life of this little girl.
Is it really appropriate to speak about what a great father he was and how much he loves his child at the funeral? Is it appropriate for the media to highlight it as a tragedy and an accident?