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Kerry court scenes send out dangerous signal – Ó Snodaigh

18 December, 2009 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

SINN FÉIN Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said that the scenes in the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee during the week, which have outraged people across the country, underline the need for reform of procedures in the courts service.

A large group of people, mostly middle-aged and elderly men, queued up inside the court last Wednesday to shake hands with a man convicted of sexual assault against a 22-year-old woman. They had to pass by the victim as they showed solidarity with the perpetrator.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh said:

“The courtroom scenes in Kerry have sent out a dangerous and very negative signal to victims, especially victims of sexual assault.

“Women who are the victims of a sexual assault will unfortunately now have cause to stop and think in the wake of this extraordinary display.

“This young woman was in court, surrounded only by a garda and a member of the Rape Crisis Centre as a large body of people were allowed to file past the perpetrator displaying their support for him.

“The case underlines the urgent need for reform of procedures in the courts service. As yet there is no courts service protocol in place on whether the public can have access to a prisoner awaiting sentence in a court.

“This needs to change. In any such case the need and the sensitivities of the victim should be paramount.

“It takes great courage to report cases of rape or sexual assault and bringing such cases to court can be extremely traumatic. What we do not need is such cases being made all the more difficult by the type of scenes witnessed in Kerry this week.

“The Government must ensure that this latest event will not undermine the progress that has been made in bringing perpetrators of sexual assault to justice.” ENDS

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