Groups welcome bail decision

Thu, Jan 24, 2013, 00:00

Politicians and campaign groups have welcomed Justice Paul Carney's decision to revoke the bail of Patrick O’Brien who was convicted of raping his daughter Fiona Doyle over a 10-year period.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said while he did not want to comment on a matter before the courts, “no woman should be subjected to the type of abuse that she was subjected to”.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins said the intervention “is most welcome and will hopefully go some way towards providing some comfort to Fiona Doyle and her family”.

He called for greater consistency in sentencing and said public confidence in the criminal justice system needed to be enhanced. “This case further highlights the pressure on individual members of the judiciary and the need to support Judges with guidelines on sentencing.”

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre received a “tremendous response from people ringing the line who are tremendously relieved and who say it’s a victory for victims”, according to chief executive Ellen O’Malley Dunlop. “The really important thing is it restores people’s faith in the criminal justice system.”

She said she hoped the decision will encourage other victims to “stay the course… because these perpetrators have to be brought to justice.” She also called for the establishment of a permanent court of criminal appeal and specialist training for judges dealing with the area of sexual abuse.

The Rape Crisis Network of Ireland commended Justice Carney “for recognising and apologising for his earlier decision on bail and in taking swift action to revoke that bail for Patrick O’Brien.”

The organisation said it hoped Ms Doyle feels she has been taken seriously within the criminal justice system and that the decision goes some way to “healing the trauma she expressed after the sentence hearing on Monday.”

Caroline Counihan, RCNI’s legal director added: “We hope that judges will use the experience of this case to work with others concerned with the criminal justice system to look at establishing guidelines for sentencing.”

Campaign group One in Four issued a statement expressing “hope that this decision in some way alleviates the distress of Fiona Doyle, who has spoken out so courageously about her experiences of sexual abuse.”

The group’s executive director Maeve Lewis said “the events of the past week highlight the difficulties experienced by victims of sexual crime when they engage with the criminal justice system. Far too often they feel unheard and let down.”

She said sexual abuse cases should be heard in special courts and called on Taoiseach to consider this in his meeting with Ms Doyle.

CARI, an organisation that supports children affected by sexual abuse, also praised Justice Carney’s “honesty and bravery to admit his errors and to amend them so quickly.”

Rape Crisis Centre freephone: 1800 77 88 88