Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Kenny backs woman raped by father

Taoiseach Enda Kenny urged the Court of Criminal Appeal to deal with the case involving convicted rapist Patrick O'Brien as a matter of urgency

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has claimed there are inadequacies within the court system after a man who raped his daughter over a 10-year period walked free.

Mr Kenny urged the Court of Criminal Appeal to deal with the case involving convicted rapist Patrick O'Brien as a matter of urgency.

The 72-year-old was handed a 12-year sentence with nine suspended, but was released on bail to await an appeal on the jail term. Mr Kenny said: "It has filled the people with a sense of revulsion. I trust that the Court of Criminal Appeal will deal with the referencing of this as a priority."

Fiona Doyle was raped once a week for a decade from the age of eight. She said she was devastated by the sentencing.

Mr Kenny praised Ms Doyle, who waived her right to anonymity, saying she had shown great courage throughout the case. He added that he would arrange an Oireachtas debate on potential reforms to the court system, which were first proposed by Justice Minister Alan Shatter last September.

"I suggest we should have a discussion about what the Oireachtas feels should be put in place for the future, given that there are inadequacies with some respects of our court system in terms of consistency, membership and capacity to respond quickly," Mr Kenny said.

This follows calls for the Government to introduce sentencing guidelines for sex offences.

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) is writing to the justice minister to demand greater consistency in such cases. Opposition parties Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein also called for sentencing guidelines to be written into law, with the former preparing to publish a Bill on the establishment of a Sentencing Council.

RCNI spokeswoman Cliona Saidlear described O'Brien's sentencing as dreadful. She said: "There is deep hurt and outrage out there. Every time there is a sentence like this, it has a lasting impact in terms of a survivor's confidence and their vindication, of survivor's rights, and a survivor going forward and feeling they will be taken seriously."

O'Brien pleaded guilty to 16 charges of the rape and indecent assault of his daughter. Mr Justice Paul Carney suspended nine years of his sentence and remanded him on bail, with regard to his poor health, as he awaits the appeal.

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