Friday 19 October 2018

Protesters outraged over Belfast rape trial to take to the streets

A rally held in support of the woman at the centre of the Belfast rape trial outside Cork City Hall on Thursday. Photo: Daragh McSweeney
A rally held in support of the woman at the centre of the Belfast rape trial outside Cork City Hall on Thursday. Photo: Daragh McSweeney
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Thousands of people outraged over the Belfast rape trial are expected to take to the streets across Ireland again today.

Many protesters are expected to attend rallies in Dublin and Belfast as well as smaller gatherings planned for Cork, Galway, and Limerick.

Noeline Blackwell, executive director of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC), said the level of public anger over the manner in which the rape trial was conducted has led to a massive outpouring of support for the complainant in the case and victims of sexual violence in general.

Ms Blackwell said 16,000 people have made donations totalling €30,000 to the DRCC since the verdict was delivered on Wednesday.

A jury found rugby internationals Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding not guilty of raping a student at a house party, while Jackson was also acquitted of sexual assault.

Co-accused Blane McIlroy was acquitted of exposure while Rory Harrison was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

Less than 24 hours after the verdicts were delivered, thousands of people attended rallies in Dublin and Belfast to show their solidarity with the complainant.

Another rally is planned for 2pm today beside Dublin City Hall which will march to the Department of Justice on St Stephen’s Green.

Speaking about the unsolicited donations the DRCC has received, Ms Blackwell said: “The trust people are putting in us to help the victims of sexual violence is extraordinary.”

The DRCC had received twice the normal number of calls to its helpline from survivors of sexual violence and others since the verdict was read, she said.

The sense of anger by the public, however, is “not really at the verdict but the way they felt the complainant was put through the mill”.

Gardaí say that they are aware of today’s protests and will police accordingly.

Irish Independent

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