Protest to take place in Cork as Paddy Jackson set to face Munster

Protest to take place in Cork as Paddy Jackson set to face Munster
File photo of Paddy Jackson

A protest is due to take place next week in Cork as Paddy Jackson is due to play his first match on Irish soil since he was acquitted following a high-profile Belfast rape trial.

Almost 200 people have indicated online that they are planning on attending a peaceful demonstration outside Musgrave Park next Friday where London Irish are due to take on Munster in a club-friendly.

Should he be selected, it will mark the first time the former Ireland and Ulster player has played in Ireland since the nine-week trial in Belfast in 2018.

Mr Jackson, and his teammate Stuart Olding, were both unanimously acquitted in Belfast Crown Court in March 2018 of raping the same woman at a party at Mr Jackson's south Belfast home in June 2016.

Mr Jackson was also found not guilty of sexual assault.

Both men were subsequently sacked by their teams for their involvement in explicit WhatsApp chats revealed during the trial.

Following the trial, rallies took place in Belfast and across Ireland calling for better protections for abuse survivors.

In a statement given after his acquittal, Mr Jackson said he would always regret the events of the night in question.

He said: "I am ashamed that a young woman who was a visitor to my home left in a distressed state. This was never my intention and I will always regret the events of that evening. I am also truly sorry for engaging in a Whatsapp group chat which was degrading and offensive and I apologise unreservedly for this.

"The criticism of my behaviour is fully justified and I know I have betrayed the values of my family and those of the wider public.

"Following the trial, I have taken time to reflect with my family on the values that were such an integral part of my upbringing, the most important of which is respect."

Mr Olding later signed with French side Brive and Mr Jackson signed with Perpignan.

He later signed with London Irish - a recruitment decision that cost the club a nearly 30-year long relationship with drinks giant Diageo which had been one of its main sponsors.

In June 2019, the drinks giant said the decision to sign Mr. Jackson was not "consistent" with its values and so it was ending its sponsorship of the club. Another sponsor, Cash Converters UK, also discontinued its association with the club.

London Irish said that while it was disappointed with the decision, it "always respected the right for everyone to have an opinion, and their right to express that opinion".

The club had offered to meet with Diageo's senior management but the offer was not taken up.

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