Saturday 20 December 2014

Kenny pays tribute to rape victim but no commitment on sentencing reform

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Published 23/01/2013 | 05:00

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has paid tribute to the courage of Fiona Doyle, the woman who was raped for 10 years by her father, only to see him walk free from court.

Ms Doyle is seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Kenny as the fallout continues from the sentencing of her father, who was released on bail pending an appeal.

But Mr Kenny was vague about the prospect of the Government bringing in mandatory sentences for rapists. He said he hopes other rape victims won't be discouraged from coming forward following the outcome of the case.

"I admire the courage of Fiona Doyle in doing what she did. This case has filled the nation with revulsion," he said.

"I would like to believe that others who have or are subject to a rape or incest or crimes of this horrific nature, would not lose courage in coming forward to say their piece."

Ms Doyle's father, Patrick O'Brien, from Bray, Co Wicklow, was released on bail pending an appeal of his sentence after having nine years of his 12-year term suspended. He pleaded guilty to repeatedly raping his daughter over a period of 10 years.

Anonymity

Although restricted in what he could say about the sentence, Mr Kenny said he believed the Court of Criminal Appeal would deal with the case as a priority.

The question of mandatory sentencing for rapists was a "matter for the Government to reflect upon", he said.

Ms Doyle, who waived her right to anonymity in the case against her father, said she was devastated by the sentence and felt abused by the justice system.

Fianna Fail's Billy Kelleher said the decision by the Central Criminal Court sent out a "very disturbing message".

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said his father was "an abuser and that it creates devastation in a family that goes beyond description".

The Government faced renewed calls to introduce sentencing guidelines for sex offences after the case.

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) is writing to Justice Minister Alan Shatter calling for measures to ensure consistent sentencing of convicted sex offenders.

RCNI spokeswoman Cliona Saidlear described the sentencing as dreadful. "The minister can't interfere with the sentencing being imposed in these cases," she said. "So we are calling for sentencing guidelines in sexual offence cases and a consistency in sentencing.

"There is deep hurt and outrage out there," Ms Saidlear said. "Every time there is a sentence like this, it has a lasting impact in terms of a survivor's confidence and on a survivor going forward and feeling they will be taken seriously."

Ms Saidlear said there are few sex offence cases that go to court and get convictions – making it all the more important to get the sentencing right.

Silence empowers abusers – Joyce Kavanagh, Comment P32

Irish Independent

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