Somebody finally listened

Watching as the prison doors finally closed behind her father, Fiona Doyle sent out a message of hope to rape victims fearful of not being believed: “There will be somebody. Somebody will listen to you.”

Somebody finally listened

Raising her face to the sky outside the Criminal Court of Justice as if a weight had been lifted, she had these words for victims wondering if it was worth going to the courts: “Look at my face today compared to last week. I’m happy. It’s been a rough ride, but it’s worth it.”

She said she would now press home to Enda Kenny the problems with the system, and the hurt it had caused her, when she meets the Taoiseach next Wednesday.

Flanked by her husband Jim, son Patrick, and uncle Des, Ms Doyle said she did not leave the court until she saw her father — who had raped her at least once a week for 10 years — taken away to prison.

“I stood there and waited ’til he went right through those doors. I watched him go through those doors and that’s all I wanted. He might now feel the loneliness, the lack of support, and the isolation I have felt over the past 40 years.”

In a landmark case, Patrick O’Brien was sent to jail after the trial judge revoked his bail. Mr Justice Paul Carney told the court that his decision to grant the rapist bail was “inappropriate and insensitive” and he expressed his “profound regret” for the distress he had caused Ms Doyle.

On Monday, Mr Justice Carney had sentenced him to 12 years, with nine years suspended, and granted him bail pending an appeal.

Groups working with adult and child victims of rape commended the judge in admitting his error and resolving it quickly.

Children at Risk in Ireland chief executive Mary Flaherty said: “The reversal of this perverse decision now sends out the right message to those who still abuse children in our country annually.”

She said while this case related to abuse in the 1970s and 1980s, child sexual abuse had not gone away: “It is not a thing of the past. In 2012, the HSE received 2,986 new allegations.”

O’Brien, aged 72, who has a range of medical conditions, was taken to Arbour Hill Prison yesterday, a jail entirely housing sex offenders, including a large percentage of old offenders, many with health problems and some older than O’Brien.

Ms Doyle said she was asking her father “as a sign of remorse” not to appeal the sentence.

“This three-year sentence is now, in his present state, a lifetime for him,” she said.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said he was reluctant to comment given there “might be an appeal from both sides”, but said he could understand that people were “disturbed by the terrible circumstances” of the case.

One in Four executive director Maeve Lewis welcomed Mr Justice Carney’s decision and said the case highlighted the “difficulties” experienced by victims in the courts. She called for sexual offences to be dealt with in specialist courts.

Rape Crisis Network Ireland legal director Caroline Counihan commended the judge and called for sentencing guidelines.

*See cari.ie; rcni.ie and oneinfour.ie. Rape crisis helpline: 1800 778888.

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