NEWS

Rally held as Donegal Woman's Centre provides support to those affected by Belfast rape trial

A rally of support and solidarity for the young woman at the centre of the Belfast rape trial

Staff Reporter

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Staff Reporter

Rally held as  Donegal Woman's Centre provides support to those affected by Belfast rape trial

A rally of support and solidarity for the young woman at the centre of the Belfast rape trial has been held in Letterkenny.

Rallies were held across the country today following the acquittal of four men including two Irish rugby internationals in the nine-week trial.

Ulster and Ireland rugby player Paddy Jackson was acquitted of rape and sexual assault. His team-mate Stuart Olding was acquitted of rape.

Blane McIlroy was found not guilty of exposure and Rory Harrison was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice and not guilty withholding information.

During the nine-week trial, Mr Jackson, 26, from Oakleigh Park, Belfast, and Mr Olding, 25, of Ardenlee Street in the city, had denied raping the same woman at a house in south Belfast on June 28th 2016.

The rally was held in Letterkenny’s Market Square at lunchtime today.

Tomás Barriscale, who organised the rally, said he was angered by the result of the trial.

“I wanted to do something. Because I saw there were so many solidarity rallies around the country I didn’t want to just go off to Derry or somewhere because I know there was so many people here who wanted to make themselves heard,” he said.

“If I organised something then people would be able to turn up. Because it was big in the media a lot of people were following it. Because it is in a way representative of a lot of other sexual assault cases I think a lot of people were emotionally involved in it. When the not guilty verdict came out a lot of people felt betrayed and have lost faith in the justice system.”

Hayley Patton from Letterkenny said she attended the rally because she feels the trial showed that something needs to change in society.

“This is by no means going to encourage women to come forward. I feel the girl was slut-shamed, there was a lot of that going on. This case got so much media attention and so many people were talking about it, which is a good thing. Everyone was discussing it so it was a great opportunity to do something like this.”  

The Donegal Women's Centre issued an invitation of support to anyone affected by the trial.

The centre provides a listening service with trained listeners for women to be heard in a safe, confidential and understanding space.

“You are not on your own, we are here to support you,” the centre said.

Anyone who would like to talk with a trained Listeners in a safe and confidential space can call the Donegal  Women's Centre on 074 9124985.