Anne Delcassian (left) with her late sister Irene White
After almost 13 years of waiting for justice to be served, the family of the late Irene White is happy that they are “finally seeing results.”
Last Thursday, Niall Power, a 45-year-old father of four was charged with the 2005 murder of Irene White. After appearing in Cloverhill District Court on Thursday 9 February, Power was further remanded in custody. And on Monday, January 30 Anthony Lambe was jailed for life for Irene's murder. Niall Power handed himself in the day after Anthony Lambe was sentenced.
Lambe, who is from Annadrumman, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, told the court he was asked to kill Ms White on behalf of another individual.
And in an exclusive interview with the Dundalk Democrat, Irene's only sister Anne Delcassian, tells of why she never stopped fighting for her sister's killers to be brought to light, why she's indebted to Irene's true Dundalk friends who supplied her with vital information on the case, and why she won't rest until the individual who orchestrated the murder is behind bars.
It's been a long road towards justice for Irene White's family and Anne says they are happy that they are “finally seeing results” after nearly 13 years of waiting.
Anne, who has been living in Manchester, England for the last 30 years, believes that one of the reasons it has taken so long to find the men involved in her sister's brutal murder is due to “flawed investigations”.
“I've only just recently learned that Anthony Lambe was interviewed by Dundalk Garda as far back as 2005. And so some calls were made and I really do believe that Dundalk gardai didn't investigate properly.
“I think it was a quite a flawed investigation on their behalf. Because there's no way when I brought the case to SCRT (Serious Crime Review Team) in 2010 that any movement seemed to take place,” explained Anne.
“There were over 300 recommendations (for leads in the case). The book was the size of a telephone directory. How come Dundalk missed that?” Anne added.
Irene's killer, Anthony Lambe, was finally tracked down last year after the Garda's Serious Review Crime Team looked back into the original investigation.
Anthony Lambe is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Irene White
When asked if the family harboured anger towards Anthony Lambe, Anne said that they considered him “pathetic” and “just a foolish idiot”.
“I actually wouldn't call it anger. What I would say is that Anthony Lambe is a pathetic person. He murdered my sister for money. That's why he did it. And he's just a foolish idiot. As far as I'm concerned, he actually deserves where he is now and thankfully Judge McCarthy put him there,” Anne told the Dundalk Democrat.
Ms Delcassian also revealed that the family had been aware of Niall Power for “some time” and had reason to believe that he might be involved in the murder.
“I think he must have felt that he didn't have much choice, in terms of handing himself in, because Anthony Lambe, obviously we heard in the court, gave information. Others will be named as well,” Anne added.
And the extraordinary developments in this 13-year-long case were in no small part due to what one officer described as “relentless” petitioning by Ms Delcassian.
“I do believe that had I not made so many trips from the UK to Dundalk and then with SDRT in Dublin, I really don't believe that Irene's case would have got anywhere without some sort of push by me to direct them as in place where to look and what to do,” Anne said,
“I just never, ever gave up on Irene. Because I just felt that there were people out there in the locality who committed this horrendous crime and now I'm being proven right.”
Ms Delcassian also revealed how, in the months leading up to her sister's death, Irene “100% knew she was going to be murdered.”
Anne revealed: “You know what makes me feel very, very uneasy for Irene – she was in fear of her life. She was threatened. She was followed around town. And people made threats against her. People she was close to.
The late Irene White
“And this is an awful way for somebody to live, frightened, looking over her shoulder. She left Omeath where we come from, many times saying, please pray for me. Can you imagine that in your heart? The fear that was in your soul?
“But she knew. 100% Irene knew she was going to be murdered because she went 15 times to the garda asking for help and they did nothing.”
Gardai are now searching for the final piece in the puzzle – the person who paid Anthony Lambe to carry out what has been described as “the most savage attack against a female in the history of the Irish state”.
“The person who paid Mr. Lambe will be somebody who acquired a substantial amount of money,” said Anne.
In addition to thanking Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan for “relentlessly pursuing this case”, and KRW Law solicitors Gavin Booth and Kevin Winters, Anne also expressed her gratitude to the people of Dundalk for their assistance over the years.
“People in Dundalk told me early on, that they were well aware who carried out the murder. I'd like to thank the people of Dundalk for the assistance that they offered to me, in terms of providing me with information,” said Anne,
“I would come over from the UK and chat to locals and they were very, very, good. It's just Dundalk people all over – they cling together. Although there was a fear factor surrounding this crime, Irene's true friends were there with good information that I was able to pass on. Irene was very well-liked in Dundalk.”
In relation to the man who paid Anthony Lambe to carry out the murder, Irene's sister said: “It would be interesting if perhaps there was some depth of feeling in this individual, that he would have the guts and the courage to go into gardai and let them know what he knows and what perhaps a wider circle of family know, and assist in the investigation further, and bring it to a close. That would be great.”
Irene White's former home beside Ice House Hill Park
The brutal details of the frenzied attack carried out on Irene, in which she has suffered 34 stab wounds to her torso, back and arms, and had her throat slit, are something that haunts the victim's family and friends.
Recounting the tragic events, Anne said: “Because my mother as you know, she walked into Irene's kitchen, for her chat and her breakfast that morning and found Irene.
“We heard in the court, the knife went out the other side of Irene's body when she was turned over on the floor. It was read out in court. I couldn't believe it. I was absolutely sick, in the description of what was done to my sister.”
Anne also added that she was disturbed by the number of violent crimes carried out against women in the Irish state. According to figures from a Women's Aid Impact Report, there were 16,846 cases of domestic violence against women during 2016. 3,502 of these cases were related to incidents of physical abuse.
“Mary Boyle, JoJo Dullard, Fiona Sinnott and Sophie Toscan du Plantier – there are countless cases. It's shocking these are women with lives who just disappeared off the face of the earth and no-one is willing to do anything.”
However, despite the hope that the case will soon be brought to a close, Anne added that closure never really exists for families who have lost a loved one due to a murder or a homicide.
Going forward, Anne said that she and the family would like to appeal to “anyone out there who would have some information”.
“Even if you think it's not important [the information], it is. I'd also like to appeal to the women who know plenty, and who should really go into the garda because they are in relationships with people who may or may not be involved in Irene's murder and of course they know things. And to be able to keep hidden for 12 years, 13 nearly now, this horrendous crime, is for me, the essence of shock and disbelief,” Ms Delcassian said.
This interview also appears in this week's print edition of The Dundalk Democrat.