Allison Morris

Belfast Telegraph

I have been a front-line reporter for over 20 years, working almost exclusively in print and have worked for the Belfast Telegraph since March 2021 as the paper's Crime Correspondent.

As the world was plunged into crisis over the pandemic domestic abuse organisations warned of the danger lockdown posed to those in violent relationships. Northern Ireland has one of the worst rates of femicide in Europe, we live in a post conflict society that has been referred to in the past as an “armed patriarchy”. It didn’t take long for the fears of organisations like Women’s Aid to be realised. With the news agenda dominated by Covid-19 the murders of women - many in their own homes - was not receiving the attention it deserved. I started writing their names in my diary. With all social and work engagements cancelled, for a time the victims' names were among the only entries, and they started to build up. They covered all ages and social classes. I felt it was my duty to not only make sure their murders were properly covered but to also highlight the problem of violence against women in Northern Ireland. The interview with double killer Hazel Stewart was several years in the planning. When I finally (in a virtual meeting due to the Covid restrictions) sat down with the woman at the centre of the trial of the decade it was an eye-opening experience. She was far from the femme fatal that had been portrayed during the double murder trial but a very ordinary housewife who had become involved in an affair that would claim two lives and result in her serving life behind bars. The public interest was still there. I hope the lengthy coverage also helped with understanding what made this middle-class housewife, help kill her husband and love rival in a story of sex, religious fanaticism and murder.