herald

Monday 5 December 2016

'Abusers' feelings should not be put first', says victim denied visit to jailed father

Fiona Doyle
Fiona Doyle

An abuse sufferer has said that victims should be allowed to confront their abusers if they wish, rather than the feelings of their attackers being put first.

Fiona Doyle said that authorities are concerned that a meeting between her and her abuser could impact negatively on the offender.

Her father Patrick O'Brien (79) was sentenced to 12 years in prison with three suspended in 2013 for the systematic rape and sexual abuse of his daughter at their home in Dun Laoghaire from 1973 to 1982.

Denied

Speaking to the Herald, Ms Doyle said she has written to her father on a number of occasions and also requested to meet him in person but these requests were denied.

Pat O'Brien
Pat O'Brien

"A lot of things shouldn't be optional. One is counselling services and two is meeting with their victim.

"If a victim is prepared to do that, it should not be based on the offender's decision. I went to (Arbour Hill) prison and asked about a meeting with my father. I got a call back asking me if I am in counselling and if they could contact my counsellor.

"It went further and I asked about the calls and they told me they were concerned about the effects my confrontation would have on my father.

"I was dumbfounded by this and wanted to scream and shout at them, the option should always be with the victim rather than the offender.

"So eventually I contacted the Governor of Arbour Hill, he invited me to the prison and we talked about counselling services and again I confronted him about concerns about my father more than me.

"He said that they have done two trials of restorative justice in Arbour Hill and they were concerned about an offender turning violent towards prison staff after meeting their victim."

A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said that it does not comment on individual cases. It is understood that Patrick O'Brien has not received counselling since his imprisonment in 2013 and that he does not want to meet his daughter.

Justice

"I would happily sit down with an offender to speak to them because I do think we need to know more about paedophiles and we need to look into the psychological side of things. I do believe in restorative justice but it's down to a paedophile's cooperation and it seems their feelings come first in the case of my father," Ms Doyle said.

The case sparked controversy when O'Brien was initially given a 12-year sentence with nine years suspended due to his age and ill-health. The DPP subsequently appealed and the sentence was revised to 12 years with three years suspended.

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