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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

FIDDAMAN not unique - Shane Clancey - media "exploitation" of murderers parents, priest claims

Shane Clancey - media "exploitation" of murderers parents, priest claims

Jesuit priest Fr Fergus O'Donoghue has questioned the Late Late Show's "exploitation" of the parents of murderer Shane Clancy by having them appear as guests on the show.

Clancy's heartbroken mother Leonie Fennell and stepfather Tony Donnelly appeared on the show to insist that their son's mental state had been affected by the anti-depressant medications when he launched stabbed to death Seb Creane and injured his ex-girlfriend Jennifer Hannigan and Seb's brother Dylan.


Fr O'Donoghue, the editor of Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review and a family friend of the Creane family, said the decision to include the grieving parents on the show had raised serious concerns

He questioned how and why Shane's mother and stepfather appeared on the talk show and went on to suggest that their interview slot was an attempt to secure ratings.

He wrote: "Who, in fact, persuaded them that this was the right thing to do?

"Were they there because some television producers and presenters felt compassion for them or because they represented hot stories and would lift ratings?"

Fr O'Donoghue also asked why Shane Clancy's use of anti-depressants was being used as a defence for his actions.

"A consensus began to build at once, with many people saying 'he was on anti-depressants,' as if that were a satisfactory explanation for homicidal behaviour," he said.

Fr O'Donoghue also supported a psychologist's condemnation of Shane's parents' suggestion that anti-depressants were the only logical explanation behind the killing.

But he warned; "I doubt if even their combined experience and wisdom will prevent the widespread acceptance of such a simple explanation for such appalling violence."

Dr Justin Brophy, a consultant psychiatrist in Wicklow expressed his concern that people taking anti-depressants would now stop taking them for fear of the stigma attached.

He said: "The stakes are very high here because people's lives and people's health will be seriously compromised and endangered by misleading and imbalanced advice."


The College of Psychiatrists in Ireland refused an invitation to participate in the The Late Late Show episode.

"Making anti-depressants the focus of this tragic situation was a serious hijacking of two families' grief and of the facts, while the facts of the case have yet to be established.

"We thought it was unethical to parade the issue of anti-depressants in front of a bereaved family who had been hijacked for the sake of the argument.

"We also had misgivings that another brave family was not represented," he said.

- Caitlin McBride

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