What might rape culture look like in Ireland?

Things that cause rape

The Oxford English Dictionary defines rape culture as “A society… whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalising or trivialising sexual assault and abuse”. Wikipedia adds: “Behaviours commonly associated… include victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivialising rape, denial of widespread rape, refusing to acknowledge the harm caused by some forms of sexual violence, or some combination of these.”

December 2009:

“I just wanted to support him, just let him know he was not alone,” said Father Sean Sheehy, then-parish priest of Castlegregory, Co Kerry, after he joined a group of up to fifty people as they queued in Tralee Circuit Criminal Court to shake hands with Danny Foley.

Foley (35) had just been convicted of sexually assaulting a young woman a year earlier. Foley – then employed as a bouncer – had met his victim (then 22) at a Listowel nightclub and bought her a drink. After drinking it, she became incapacitated. (Later, she remembered trying to stop Foley from removing her clothing.)

Gardai found her in an alleyway, beside a skip, naked from the waist down, semi-conscious and covered in cuts and bruises. Foley was crouching over her. Foley told the Guards, “I came around here for a slash and I saw yer wan lying on the ground.”

CCTV footage showed Foley carrying her to the alleyway, so he changed his story, saying that she took off her trousers and asked for sex.

The jury convicted him. In his sentencing remarks, Judge Donagh McDonagh said Foley’s allegations about mutual sexual acts were designed “to add insult to injury” and “to demean and denigrate her further in the eyes of the jury and the public”.

Foley got a seven year sentence with the last two years suspended. (This being Ireland, he was out in three and a half years.)

Father Sheehy said “it seemed to me an extremely harsh sentence”. He went on national radio to extol Danny Foley’s decency.

Of Foley’s victim, Father Sheehy said: I don’t want to make any judgment on her at all, but obviously the whole situation must have been embarrassing, for the police to happen upon them and what-notShe’s the mother of a young child as well and, you know, that in itself doesn’t look great.”

Please read on in The Avondhu


In Ireland, a man can actually confess to rape and still serve no time in prison


MAGNUS MEYER HUSTVEIT wrote to his former partner and told her that he had, over a year, regularly raped and sexually assaulted her while she was asleep and incapable of giving consent. He had, he told her, been using her “body for (his) gratification”.

Handing down a seven year sentence on Monday, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said that he had to consider that there might have been no prosecution if not for Hustveit’s confession. “In truth, the case comes here today out of his own mouth,” the judge said, before suspending the entire sentence.

Rape is the second-most serious crime on our statutes, after murder. Imagine a judge lending such weight to a confession of murder that it mitigated the entire case to a suspended sentence.

Rape is the second-most serious crime in our country due to – as Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre says – “the dreadful, and far too often, lifelong debilitating effects it can have on the victim’s life”.

Rape is the second-most serious crime in Ireland and yet it seems a man can actually confess to rape here and still serve no time in prison.

Please read more in my column in TheJournal.ie