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Three boys only cautioned after alleged sexual assault of girl outside local disco, Dáil hears

The incident was caught on CCTV and gardaí were called to the incident in 2016.

Image: Shutterstock/Stephen Barnes

THREE BOYS WERE only cautioned through the Juvenile Diversion Programme after an alleged sexual assault of a young girl at an underage disco.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday afternoon, Sinn Féin’s Martin Kenny recalled how a mother reported the alleged attack on her daughter to him in 2016 after being disappointed by the response from gardaí. 

He said the young girl travelled by bus with her friends to an underage disco and when she arrived “she was dragged down an ally by a number of boys and sexually assaulted”. 

During the alleged assault, one of boys reportedly said, “Stop this now.” The incident was caught on CCTV and there were witnesses, Kenny said.

He added that the gardaí were called and the girl was taken to the hospital at the time of the incident.

“All the evidence was there and yet to the dismay of her mother, it was the juvenile programme these three boys were sent to and received only a caution,” Kenny said. 

The Sinn Féin TD said it ordeal “destroyed” the girl’s life as a result.

Post-traumatic stress

“She suffered post-traumatic stress and failed her Leaving Cert,” he said, adding: 

When she looked on Facebook with her friends, however, she saw the lads who did this enjoying themselves in the community and saw that everything was fine in their lives, yet her life had been destroyed.

The case was raised yesterday afternoon during a debate on juvenile crime. A number of TDs discussed a recent review which highlighted that violent crimes went unpunished because of massive problems with a youth referral scheme in An Garda Síochána.

The interim report from the examination of youth referrals from July 2010 to July 2017 shows young people wrongly evaded prosecution for years. It is understood that a ‘number of cases’ involved violence of a serious nature.

The Police Authority has said that almost 13,000 criminal offences by young people may have gone unprosecuted due to problems with the system.

Case highlighted with minister in 2016

Kenny said that when the scandal was revealed, it brought the case back to him, stating that two years ago he raised it with the then Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

“I was told the programme was a great programme – everything was fine,” said the Sinn Féin TD.

He said the mother who contacted him wanted to ensure that sexual assault, regardless of the age of the perpetrator is not part of the juvenile programme.

Screenshot 2019-01-30 at 18.12.32

The original aim of the Juvenile Diversion Programme was to help prevent young offenders in Ireland from entering into the full criminal justice system.

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Instead of a criminal conviction, the young person is given the chance to admit to their crime as part of the scheme to be subsequently offered one of a range of options to make amends.

Specially-trained garda Juvenile Liaison Officers (JLOs) are assigned to work with them.

Once the young person admits responsibility for their actions, an action plan is created – this can include apologising to the victim of their crimes, offering money to them, imposing curfews on the offender or ensuring they participate in sporting or other recreational activities.

“This family have been in the horrors since this happened a number of years ago,” said Kenny. The siblings of the young girl are now older, and the mother is concerned that a row might break out when they meet the boys around the town, Kenny told the Dáil.

He added that at the core of this debate, is that this case was not deal with appropriately, adding that responsibility has to be taken by those responsible. 

Kenny asked that Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan meet with the family concerned about the case. 

A comment on behalf of Frances Fitzgerald has been requested but none was received at the time of publication.

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