News Courts

Friday 19 September 2014

'That was my dad and I'll never see him again'

Published 25/01/2013 | 05:00

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FIONA Doyle stood watching as her abuser father was led away by prison officers. It was the moment for which the rape victim had been waiting for decades.

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"That was all I wanted," said Ms Doyle, pictured inset, now a mother herself. "You know, he might now feel the loneliness, the lack of support and the isolation that I have felt for the past 40 years."

Her childhood had been left in tatters. Her innocence whipped away before she even made her First Holy Communion. She said any youthful attempts to tell anybody about the devastating regime inflicted upon her by her father Patrick O'Brien in their home, throughout the 70s and early 80s, had failed.

This is one of the myriad issues she plans to raise with Taoiseach Enda Kenny when she meets him next week. "I look forward to putting my hurt and the problems I found with the system and with getting this case brought to light and maybe also discuss what happened when I first went to the gardai 20 years ago," she said.

Yet, she urged other victims who fear they won't be believed to take heart. "There will be somebody. Somebody will listen to you," Ms Doyle added.

Despite the years of abuse and the toll it had taken on her, her husband and their children, she was still able to feel a measure of compassion for her now elderly father, who had arrived to court with his overnight bag packed.

"I found it quite sad. When it all boils down, that was my dad walking through those doors and I'll never see him again," she said, as her guard slipped slightly.

Yet, it was very clear she wanted nothing to do with her father, nor her mother Bridget, who had sat with her husband throughout the court case. She was now a Doyle, and proud to be one.

Outside the court, she stood surrounded by the love of her husband Jim Doyle, son Patrick (24) and Uncle Des, who had supported her and never once doubted her. Her daughter Kristel (26) had been there by her side many days throughout the trial, while they had kept the younger children out of the spotlight.

"It is a sad but happy feeling," said Kristel.

Kristel told how her mother is penning a book about her experiences to help other victims. It was sparked by Kristel asking her about what had happened to her as a child.

There were little things that tided her over as she "crumbled" in recent days – a bunch of flowers left by one of her children in the kitchen sink, a homemade apple pie on the doorstep or simply a neighbour knocking on the door to tell her they were thinking of her.

"It meant a lot to me and it picked me up," she said. "I have the support of thousands of people. Everyone that sent an email, that made a phone call, that takes part in the marches. They need to be proud of themselves."

Irish Independent

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