Rally in Cork following rape verdict

Rally in Cork following rape verdict

Crowds gather as Paddy Jackson leaves court in Belfast yesterday after being cleared of rape. Picture: Justin Kernoghan

A RALLY in support of the woman who had claimed she was raped by rugby stars Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding took place outside Cork City Hall today.

The ‘I believe her’ solidarity rally, organised in response to the not guilty verdicts in the trial, took place at midday in the city.

Ireland rugby internationals Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were acquitted of rape yesterday; two other men charged in connection with the alleged attack were also found not guilty.

Blane McIlroy, aged 26, was acquitted of exposure while Rory Harrison, aged 25, was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

The high profile trial was one of the longest ever heard on this island and generated an unprecedented level of attention.

Responding to the verdict, director of the Cork Sexual Violence Centre, Mary Crilly, said she felt many parts of the cross-examination were both cruel and unnecessary.

She said: “I really feel the way the complainant was dealt with by the court will prevent a lot of women from coming forward. I know there are women out there thinking ‘what’s the point of putting myself through something so traumatic?’.

“However, I would urge anyone who has experienced a sexual assault to speak up, even if it just results in the accused being brought to the notice of the gardaí.

“The woman involved in this case spent eight days being cross-examined while the accused only had to endure three hours. The men had the support of teams of barristers. She was all alone. If you were watching this from outer space you would say it was a crazy and vicious world.”

Ms Crilly said she has witnessed first-hand the traumatic cross-examinations women have been subjected to in rape trials.

“I’ve seen them left raw, vulnerable and questioning their own sanity. This robotic style of questioning needs to be done away with. Anyone who feels this is the right approach should imagine their mother or sister in this situation.”

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