Republican News · Thursday 30 Novemeber 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Courage of victims saluted

Sentences must reflect seriousness of abuse

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has saluted the courage of victims of child sexual abuse who have recently come forward to face their abusers and help secure convictions. He also praised the students at St. Louis Convent School, Monaghan, for their initiative in protesting at the lenient sentence given to convicted child sex abuser Vincent McKenna at Cavan Court last week.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``It takes great courage for victims to report their ordeal and even more courage for them to take part in very harrowing legal proceedings. In recent cases victims have shown that courage in abundance. They have given encouragement to other victims to come forward.

``I commend the initiative of students at St. Louis who reflect the widespread concern at the leniency of sentences in some of these cases. It sends out the wrong message completely when people see perpetrators of these horrible crimes against children receiving, in some cases, sentences lighter than those on people convicted of crimes against property. This can only serve to discourage other victims from coming forward.

``There needs to be a thorough review of prescribed sentences for these crimes and of sentencing policy by judges. We also need to ensure that the judiciary is fully equipped in terms of training and information to make judgements and to impose appropriate sentence in these cases.''

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