Northern Ireland news

Rugby rape trial: 'I Believe Her' rallies planned across Ireland

Paddy Jackson leaves court after being found not guilty and reads a statement to the media. Picture by Mal McCann
Brendan Hughes

RALLIES are being organised in several cities in Ireland today in support of the woman at the centre of the rugby rape trial following the unanimous not guilty verdicts.

The demonstrations, described online as 'I Believe Her' solidarity rallies, are due to take place at 12.30pm in

  • Belfast - Laganside Courthouse
  • Derry 
  • Cork 
  • Limerick
  • Galway
  • Dublin

The Belfast rally will be held outside Laganside Courthouse and is organised by Reclaim the Night Belfast, a group that campaigns against gender-based violence and harassment.

In a post on Facebook, the group branded the criminal justice system "not fit for purpose when it comes to dealing with sexual crimes".

It also alleged media reporting of rape trials is "intrusive, salacious and biased towards undermining the victim's testimony".

They called for cases not to be reported in the press until after the jury has given its verdict.

It comes after the trial verdict was met with a wave of strong responses online, with many reacting under the social media hashtag #IBelieveHer.

Read more: 

Allison Morris: There were even giggles in the public gallery as graphic details of alleged rape were read out (Premium)

Alleged victim's name was posted on comments section of an online news site

The term was trending in Ireland, the UK and worldwide on Twitter as internet users reacted to the unanimous not guilty verdicts.

Many used the hashtag to show support for the woman at the centre of the long-running trial, in which rugby stars Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were cleared of rape.

Some used it to signpost services available for those affected by the details of the case, while others questioned how the justice system treats complainants in sexual offence trials.

Among those who voiced their support for the woman using #IBelieveHer were Brid Smith, a People Before Profit TD in Dublin; Sinn Féin Dublin councillor Sarah Holland; and Labour senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

Sinn Féin's Sarah Holland

Dublin TD Ruth Coppinger also shared details of the rally planned for Dublin, and encouraged people to "show solidarity".

TD Ruth Coppinger

Read more: Relatives clasped each others' hands and openly wept as verdicts delivered

Belfast's lord mayor, Alliance councillor Nuala McAllister, said on Facebook the "conduct of the trial and spotlight it has been given will have devastating consequences on victims of sexual violence coming forward in the future to report crimes".

Alliance councillor and Belfast lord mayor Nuala McAllister

She shared an open letter from the "feminist movement" which had the same content as publicised by Reclaim the Night Belfast, including criticism of the media reporting of rape trials and the justice system.

Meanwhile, Laois GAA yesterday disassociated itself from remarks by one of its players about the trial.

His remarks attracted criticism on Twitter, and the message was later deleted.

In response, Laois GAA said: "Laois GAA wish to disassociate themselves from tweets or comments made by individuals on social media.

"Such comments are their own personal opinion, on their own personal accounts, and in no way reflect the views, or opinions, of Laois CLG."

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