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Rally at Colin Glen Park after brutal rape of American tourist

19 April, 2008

Sinn Féin West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann has said that the local community, all of the justice agencies and the criminal justice system must work together to send a clear message out that violent crimes will no longer be tolerated.

There will be a rally today, Saturday 19th April, at 2pm in Colin Glen Park in West Belfast. There have been numerous violent attacks in this area and last weekend a young American woman was brutally raped in the Park.

Speaking ahead of the Rally, Ms McCann said:

"A week ago today a young American visitor to this area was brutally raped in the Colin Glen Park. It happened in broad daylight on a sunny Saturday afternoon while she walked in this park.

"The Rally today is to show our solidarity and support for this young woman and her family and friends and also to send a clear message to the perpetrator of that vile crime and to others who use this park as a place to drink and use drugs that they are not welcome here.

"This is one of the few areas in West Belfast where families can come together and anti-community elements and criminals will not intimidate us from coming here.

"The horrific experience of rape and sexual assault has long term effects on the lives of its victims and their families. Yet, perpetrators of these crimes are very rarely brought to justice and even if they are convicted and sentenced the length of the sentence rarely reflect the seriousness of their crime.

"All of us have a responsibility to ensure we work together on this issue and send a clear message out that violent crimes of murder, rape and vicious assaults will no longer be tolerated. All those agencies responsible for ensuring that people feel safe whether its in places like this park, their homes, or on our streets must work together to ensure that people feel confident about community safety.

"Those who use parks and public places to drink and take drugs in must be challenged and sent a clear message that they are intimidating families and children from using these public places and that it's its totally unacceptable.

"Criminals who murder, rape, or assault people, or who sell drugs to our young people must be taken off our streets and face the consequences of their actions through the courts. And the criminal justice system needs to deal with habitual offenders adequately, because too often we see those charged with serious crime being released back onto the streets no matter how many times they are brought before the courts.

"All of us need to know we can feel safe in our homes and come to parks like this and walk the streets of our City in safety." ENDS

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