Monday 9 December 2019

Fiona Doyle tells Taoiseach that minimum sentences for rapists are required

Abuse victim Fiona Doyle with her husband Jim on her way to meet with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings. Photo: Collins
Abuse victim Fiona Doyle with her husband Jim on her way to meet with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings. Photo: Collins

Michael Brennan and Lyndsey Telford

ABUSE survivor Fiona Doyle has called for minimum sentences for rapists following her hour-long meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

She said that Mr Kenny had promised to look into her demands, which also include the recruitment of “young judges” and a more sensitive approach towards the victims of sexual abuse.

She said that meeting had gone on a lot longer than she expected because she had told her full story to Mr Kenny.

“We talked about everything. I’m hoping that something will be done,” she said.

She told the Taoiseach in a one-on-one meeting that judges should be "sensitised" to cases like her own to ensure no one is let down by the justice system.

"I asked for minimum sentencing, especially for rape and assault," Ms Doyle said.

"I asked for younger judges and for judges to be sensitised and trained in handling cases like my own.

"There were a few good notes being taken. I'm hoping something will be done."

Ms Doyle, from Bray, Co Wicklow, was raped by her father Patrick O'Brien once a week for a decade from the age of eight.

There was public outcry when the 72-year-old rapist walked free earlier this month.

He had been handed a 12-year sentence with nine suspended, but was released on bail to await an appeal on the jail term.

But Mr Justice Paul Carney was later forced to reverse O'Brien's bail and apologised to Ms Doyle.

He said it had been insensitive and inappropriate to release O'Brien, also from Bray, Co Wicklow. He is now serving three years behind bars.

Ms Doyle met Mr Kenny in Government Buildings where they talked for over an hour.

The mother-of-three said the Taoiseach promised to take all her requests on board.

"He actually wanted to know my story and some of the details and some of the court case," she added.

"It was a bit emotional. I had to stop a few times."

Ms Doyle said she appreciated that Mr Kenny had taken the time to talk to her and insisted the meeting was like an informal chat.

The Taoiseach was one of the first politicians to voice his anger following O'Brien's original release.

He said the case, which had filled the nation full of "revulsion", highlighted inadequacies within the court system.

He praised Ms Doyle, who waived her right to anonymity, saying she had shown great courage throughout the case.

Mr Kenny also pledged to arrange an Oireachtas debate on potential reforms to the court system, which were first proposed by Justice Minister Alan Shatter last September.

He set up a working group which is considering penal reforms, which would include possible changes to sentencing.

Ms Doyle's brutal ordeal began on the night before her First Holy Communion in 1973 and continued to 1982.

O'Brien pleaded guilty to 16 charges of the rape and indecent assault of his daughter.

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