Protesters to gather at City Hall

A rally was held in Belfast on Thursday following the rape trial verdict
A rally was held in Belfast on Thursday following the rape trial verdict

Further demonstrations are set to take place across the island of Ireland today by protestors dissatisfied with the acquittals of Ireland rugby stars Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

The pair were cleared of raping a woman at a house party in Belfast. A jury of eight men and three women at Belfast Crown Court returned its unanimous verdict on Wednesday.

Following the outcome of the nine-week trail, thousands took to the streets in Belfast, Dublin and other towns and cities to express their unhappiness at the verdict as well as the way the case was handled.

The hashtag #IBelieveHer was widely used to show support for the woman at the centre of the high-profile trial.

Speaking to the News Letter on Thursday, DUP MP Ian Paisley said the demonstrations were “unhelpful” and would only serve to “increase tensions”.

He also urged protesters to “take a step back and respect the court’s decision”.

However, the socialist feminist group Rosa has called on people to assemble at City Hall in Belfast at 1pm today.

Protest organiser Eleanor Crossey said the rally is about “reflecting the massive anger against the misogyny at the heart of this trial”.

She added: “The Ulster rugby trial has laid bare the sexist attitudes in our legal system. The trial took the form of a prolonged character assassination of the complainant based on misogynistic ideas.

“We need a radical overhauling of sex education in our schools in order to put consent at the heart of inclusive, fact-based sex education. We need legal reform so that victims of sexual violence are not subject to tirades of misogynistic abuse.”