Sunday 22 April 2018

#IBelieveHer: 'Turnout at rally gives me hope that there is a change coming'

Uxoa King, 20, Dublin, Jack Popeley, 22, and Anna Duke, from Dublin, outside the GPO in Dublin in solidarity with the woman at the centre of the Belfast rape case trial. Photo: Damien Eagers
Uxoa King, 20, Dublin, Jack Popeley, 22, and Anna Duke, from Dublin, outside the GPO in Dublin in solidarity with the woman at the centre of the Belfast rape case trial. Photo: Damien Eagers
Fiona Dillon

Fiona Dillon

Thousands of people attended rallies nationwide expressing solidarity with the woman at the centre of the Belfast rape trial.

Details of the events had been circulated widely on social media with many using the hashtag #IBelieveHer.

A large crowd gathered at the GPO on Dublin’s O’Connell Street at 12.30pm.

Many at the rally wanted to express solidarity not only with the woman at the centre of the case, but others who have been affected by the issues raised during the trial.

The rally lasted just over an hour, and a heavy shower did not deter the attendees.

Anna Duke (22), from Blessington in Co Wicklow, told the Irish Independent she wanted to show support to the woman at the centre of the case, and all women affected by it.

“It’s time change is made,” she said. “I think the turnout is amazing.”

Also at the rally was Ken McCue (63), from Smithfield in Dublin, who said he would like to see ethics and human rights courses for school children aged around 12 upwards.

He teaches cultural planning, human rights and ethics himself, and believes that children would benefit from ethics courses, in terms of learning about respect.

“It should continue right through their schooling, especially the ones involved in sport,” he said.

Dubliner Iseult Deane (21) said she thought the turnout at the event was great. “I think it’s good to see so many young people out here. I think it’s really powerful and good.”

Jack Popeley (22), from Wexford said: “The turnout gives me a little bit of hope that there is change coming.”

A number of similar events were held elsewhere around the country yesterday.

The four men who were on trial in the high-profile case were found not guilty on Wednesday.

Rugby stars Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were found not guilty of raping a young student at a house party. Paddy Jackson (26) was also found not guilty of sexually assaulting the then 19-year-old woman.

Blane McIlroy (26) was found not guilty of exposure, while Rory Harrison (25) was acquitted of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

However, in the aftermath of the case, the spotlight has fallen on how the legal system deals with people coming forward with allegations of rape and sexual assault.

The now-21-year-old woman at the centre of the Belfast case spent eight days on the stand.

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