Public support for sex offender

 

Madam, – It is high time that the writers who have featured at Listowel Writers’ Week in the past spoke out against the disgusting events at a court in Tralee (Front page, December 17th). They should also ask the organisers of next year’s event to make sexual abuse a central theme for the week.

Failing that, a boycott of the event by such artists and others would be in order. Perhaps a short, sharp economic shock in the area might bring some members of the community to their senses. It worked with the Catholic Church in the United States. – Yours, etc,

ULTAN Ó BROIN,

South Circular Road,

Dublin 8.

Madam, – When I became aware of the public display of support for a convicted man in a court of law in Tralee, I was moved to action. That 50 people could sympathise with a man convicted of sexual assault, in front of his victim, was simply incomprehensible to me. I don’t know this woman but I set up a Facebook group “Shocked by reaction in Listowel” with the goal of finding 51 people to publicly agree that it is unacceptable. Encouragingly, 9,500 people joined in just a few days.

The actions in that courtroom sent a terrible message to this victim and all past and future victims of sexual assault. The group was set up to tell her and any person brave enough to report an assault that if 50 people sympathise with the attacker, there are many, many more who sympathise with the victim.

To focus on Listowel is to assign collective blame to what is essentially a proud town filled with good people. It also sends a message to other towns that they are safe from scrutiny and this perpetuates the problem. This could have been any town in Ireland. The “not in my backyard” school of thought is in danger of pigeonholing this.

I believe the group has now served its purpose. Thousands have condemned the events in that courtroom. There have been countless messages of support to Ms X from across Ireland and beyond, and it has encouraged donations to rape crises centres across the country. I feel this is an example of how social networking can be used to effect an immediate global response to an outrageous and shameful message sent publicly to victims of sexual abuse. I would like to wish Ms X the strength and the privacy that she needs to rebuild her life. – Yours, etc,

TRACEY FERGUSON,

Dominick Street, Galway.