Rally and march through Colin Glen Forest Park
On Saturday afternoon hundreds of west Belfast residents attended a protest rally organised by Sinn Fein in the Colin Glen Forest Park.
The rally and subsequent march through the Glen was held in solidarity with the young woman who was raped there the previous Saturday. It was also an expression of the community's abhorrence of the crime and of those who misuse the park.
The rally was chaired by local Sinn Fein Councillor Charlene O Hara. The first speaker was Sinn Féin's European MEP Bairbre de Brún.
"On Saturday afternoon last a young woman walking in the park here was attacked and brutally raped. She has now returned home but the memory of her visit here will have been marred by that attack and the fact that she now has to live with the horror of that and to re-build her life. People throughout Belfast and beyond are deeply angry about that attack and are horrified by what was done to that young woman. She is in our thoughts and we wish her well, now and in the time ahead.
"Rape is a crime of violence and control. As such it is closely linked to a lack of respect for the dignity and worth of the person attacked. In rejecting this crime and in showing solidarity with the woman attacked here last week we also re-confirm the worth and dignity of every individual, man or woman, adult or child, resident or visitor. We place a high value on people and on community and we will not tolerate anyone trying to debase or attack that worth and that value."
The Sinn Féin MEP called on the range of statutory agencies and community groups in the area to come together and work to "ensure that this park is safe to use for local families and for visitors alike."
Local MLA Jennifer McCann thanked all of those who had taken the time to attend the event. She also extended solidarity to the young woman who was raped and she issued 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."
Ms McCann appealed to anyone with information to bring it forward to the
"Criminals who murder, rape or assault people, or who sell drugs to our young people or supply underage young people with drink must face the full rigour of the criminal justice system. And the criminal justice system needs to be responsive to the needs of citizens and ensure that it takes the necessary measures to protect them. This must include introducing more stringent bail conditions to target repeat offenders." ENDS