Monday 23 April 2018

Labour senator apologises for tweet in aftermath of Belfast rape trial

Labour’s Aodhan O Riordain. Photo: IRISH INDEPENDENT
Labour’s Aodhan O Riordain. Photo: IRISH INDEPENDENT
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Labour Party senator Aodhan O'Riordain has apologised for a tweet he sent in the aftermath of the Belfast rape trial.

The former minister tweeted about the Belfast trial shortly after the jury cleared rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding of rape.

Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding (Niall Carson/PA)
Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr Jackson (26), from Oakleigh Park, Belfast, and his Ireland team-mate Stuart Olding (25), of Ardenlee Street in the city, had denied raping the same woman at a house in south Belfast on June 28, 2016.

Mr Jackson denied a further charge of sexual assault.

Blane McIlroy (26), of Royal Lodge Road, Belfast, had denied exposure, while Rory Harrison (25), of Manse Road, denied perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

All four men were found not guilty.

Mr O'Riordain's comment, which was re-posted hundreds of times, made reference to "smug, well-connected middle-class boys".

Today, the senator publicly apologised on Twitter saying:

"My tweet of 28 March concerning the Belfast rape trial was not designed or intended to suggest that either Paddy Jackson or any of the other accused men were guilty or that the jury got it wrong.

"I apologise for any suggestion to the contrary. I accept that I was not privy to all the evidence put before the jury during the trial.

"I will not be making any further comment."

Lawyers for Paddy Jackson previously indicated he intends to take a libel action against Mr O'Riordain.

In a statement, KRW LAW said it had no option but to issue a notice of intention to sue Mr O'Riordain "for defamatory comments".

"I can confirm we have issued pre-action libel correspondence against a named Senator in the Republic of Ireland," said senior associate Marie Hans of KRW LAW solicitors.

"The legal action relates to a tweet sent to a number of other persons before it was eventually taken down.

"We will not hesitate to repeat similar legal action against anyone who, deliberately or otherwise, sees fit to attack our client.

"We are examining carefully every item of social media commentary which seeks to challenge the integrity of the jury's full endorsement of our client's innocence. High Court proceedings will issue shortly in both Belfast and Dublin."

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