TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has said that the case of Fiona Doyle, who was repeatedly raped by her father over a ten year period, has “filled the nation with revulsion”.
He was speaking during Leaders’ Questions today when the case was raised following the release of Doyle’s father Patrick, 72, on bail pending an appeal after he had nine of his 12 year sentence suspended at the Central Criminal Court yesterday.
Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher raised the case in the Dáil but faced difficulties as the Ceann Comhairle repeatedly had to point out that the chamber could not discuss decisions of the court or criticise those who make such decisions.
Kelleher said he was raising the Doyle case in light of the “legitimate concerns of Irish people” and the “huge anger” at the verdict yesterday which has led to calls for a review of sentencing guidelines in Irish courts.
The Taoiseach told the Dáil that he hoped the case and its outcome so far would not discourage others from coming forward.
He said: “I would like to believe that others who have or are subject to a rape or incest or crimes of this horrific nature would not lose courage in coming forward to say their piece.”
Kenny said that the issue of mandatory sentencing was one that had been raised before and was one for the government to reflect on.
‘Barbaric and horrific’
He said that Doyle’s coming forward was an “act of courage” and said her “horrific and barbaric” case had “filled the people with a sense of revulsion”.
Kenny said he hoped that the appeal court would deal with the referral of the case “as a priority”, saying: “I do hope court of criminal appeal will deal with this case as a matter of urgency.”
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams referred to his father who was an abuser and said that it “creates devastation in a family which is beyond description” while calling for reforms to the Courts of Criminal Appeal.
He pointed out that problems existed because of the fact that judges were appointed to the criminal appeals courts on a part-time basis from the High Court and Supreme Court.
Kenny said that the Minister for Justice was considering changes to the courts system and pointed out that he had already brought in significant reforms in the legal sector.
The Taoiseach said that he was open to the possibility of a discussion in the Dáil on reforms to the “inadequacies in some areas of our court system”.
“This is an issue that we need to debate,” he told the Dáil.