Protests in Belfast and Dublin after rugby players' rape acquittal Favorite 



Mar 29 2018



Protests have been held in cities on either side of the Irish border after two Ireland rugby internationals were acquitted of rape.

Up to 1,000 people took part in a demonstration in Belfast on Thursday after a jury’s unanimous verdicts on Wednesday in the case of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, who were accused of raping a woman in June 2016.

After a nine-week trial at Laganside Courts in Belfast, the jury found both men not guilty and cleared their friend Blane McIlroy of indecent exposure. A fourth man, Rory Harrison, was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

The judge in the trial, Justice Patricia Smyth, lifted a court order that had banned reporting of any protests for the duration of the trial.

Some of the banners at the Belfast protest on Thursday expressed solidarity with the 21-year-old woman at the centre of the case. Protesters tied bunches of yellow flowers and posters to railings outside the entrance to the courts.

The rally was organised by Reclaim the Night Belfast, which campaigns against gender-based violence and harassment. Organisers said the aim was to show support for victims of sexual violence and encourage them to report crimes to the police. There were also protests in Dublin, Derry, Cork, Limerick and Galway.

Meanwhile, Jackson’s lawyer, Joe McVeigh, called for new legal protections to prevent complainants in rape cases from being named on social media.

He also said Northern Ireland should follow the example of the Irish Republic’s law banning identification of people accused of rape unless and until they are found guilty.

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