Thursday 18 July 2019

Young people need to be told there’s no grey area around consent, says Quinlan

Former rugby international Alan Quinlan. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Former rugby international Alan Quinlan. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Rory Tevlin

Rory Tevlin

Former Irish rugby international Alan Quinlan has said young people need to be told there is no “grey area” when it comes to consent.

The broadcaster said the Belfast rape trial had raised questions about what children were being taught about this sensitive subject.

Mr Quinlan (43) said: “I think there’s been no winners. If there’s any positive that’s

going to come out of this at all, I think that there is no grey area in consent and young kids... that message has to be passed onto them.

“That there is no grey area about consent of any sort.”

The ex-Munster star spoke out after Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were found not guilty of raping a young student at a house party.

Paddy Jackson, right, and Stuart Olding
Paddy Jackson, right, and Stuart Olding

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.

Mr Quinlan also said conversations around consent could also help sports clubs and other establishments.

He added: “It may be worth reiterating for every establishment, sporting body, and talking to members

about consent, particularly young people and how we treat people.

“My opinion is decency hasn’t changed in any way.

“We’ve got to try to make sure there is a high level of decency with anyone we treat and meet in the public,” he told Newstalk ‘Breakfast’.

In the aftermath of the verdicts at Belfast Crown Court, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) confirmed that Jackson and Olding would remain suspended from playing duties while an internal investigation is concluded.

Mr Quinlan said it was “fully understandable” that the IRFU would carry out their own review. But he added if it is found the men brought the game into disrepute, then they could face sanction from the governing body.

He said: “The IRFU has said it is going to have an internal review, which is fully understandable, it has got to react to what’s happened.

“It has acknowledged the verdict’s not guilty but certainly the questions will be asked, ‘were they in breach of contract? Did they bring the game into disrepute?’

“There are clauses in any of the contracts that I would have had, I’m sure it’s the exact same for anybody signing a contract now.

“If you bring the game into disrepute, if you have any sort of breaches in your contract, you know you can be punished for that.”

Mr Quinlan also said that there was a lot more responsibility on sportspeople to carry themselves well in public as there is a spotlight on them.

He added: “The way the world is nowadays, I think, there is a lot more responsibility, there is a lot more attention to sports people when they’re out and about. That word role model has been mentioned a lot.

“I think, for me, it’s about your behaviours. Your behaviour has got to be good.

“They have to be extra good at times because you get that extra attention when you’re out and about.”

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