Natasha O'Brien to Helen McEntee: 'I wouldn't need to speak out if you were doing your job'

Natasha O'Brien has said she is determined to "keep pushing and pushing" for changes to the justice system and the judiciary
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.04 25 Jun 2024

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Natasha O'Brien to Helen McEnt...

Natasha O'Brien to Helen McEntee: 'I wouldn't need to speak out if you were doing your job'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.04 25 Jun 2024

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Natasha O'Brien has said she wouldn’t need to speak out against the justice system if Helen McEntee was doing her job properly.

Last week, serving soldier Cathal Crotty (22), of Parkroe Heights, Ardnacrusha, County Clare, walked free from court after he was handed a suspended sentence for beating Ms O'Brien unconscious in a vicious attack on Limerick's O'Connell Street.

Ms O'Brien suffered a broken nose, bruising, nightmares and panic attacks after the unprovoked attack.


She was in the Dáil's public gallery earlier where Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl paid tribute to her and Deputies gave her a standing ovation.

She told Lunchtime Live this afternoon that the outpouring of anger has followed the sentencing is “good but not enough yet”.

"The fear for me is that I get this national outrage and then it slowly fades away until the next thing happens,” she said.

"I just need to grab this opportunity and I just need to push it out there so that we don't need to wait for the next bad thing.

"We don't need the next sad story; we can fix it all now".

Ms O'Brien said she is determined to "keep pushing and pushing".

"I've taken the pain, I've taken the anger and I've taken the trauma that I've suffered at the hands of the courts and the Defence Forces and the justice system," she said.

"What happened to me on a singular level it's so behind me.

"I know it's still going to affect me - what happened to me - as an individual but that's not the issue.

"I don't think to waste our anger and our energy on that individual: we need this energy to direct it at the people that can actually change these matters".

'Our country is not safe at all'

Ms O'Brien had a message for Justice Minister Helen McEntee and the Taoiseach Simon Harris.

"I'll just go back to the emotions I felt walking out of that courthouse - I was just utterly appalled, utterly horrified," she said.

I really feel like I've been victimised all over again and even to a deeper level because these are the people that are supposed to protect me.

"These are the people that are supposed to put me at ease, supposed to make me feel safe and they've made me feel like, 'Wow, our country is not safe at all.'

"I've channelled that fear, anger and rage and this is what's giving me this energy now to push the need for change."

Ms O'Brien called on Justice Minister Helen McEntee to "address these issues to a serious degree and not just wish me her best and tell me I'm great for speaking out".

Addressing the Justice Minister Directly, she said: "Helen McEntee, I would not need to speak out if you were doing your job correctly in the first place".

'The last horrific headline'

Natasha O'Brien said she is 'overwhelmed' by the public's reaction to the suspended sentence.

"I could never, ever have imagined that so many people would relate to me," she said

"When something like that happens to you, you would hope that nobody else could understand so it's amazing to have the support – but it's also really disheartening that there is the need for support.

"So many people have been at the hands of experiences just like myself and I fear that if I don't keep pushing and keep going and keep screaming and shouting it's not going to change.

"I think this needs to be the last seriously horrific headline we all read".

'Victims are humans'

Ms O'Brien said issues with the judiciary need to be addressed.

"I know the law is black and white but victims are humans - there needs to be some sensitivity training," she said.

"I understand that the judges need to take the law into consideration; however the way they deliver [remarks] and the condescending and just disrespect [of] how they speak to victims.

"When I was sitting in that witness box after having read by Victim Impact Statement, after having begged Judge Tom O'Donnell for justice... to look at me and say, 'Ms O'Brien are you aware of how fortunate you are that your attacker took such a promptly guilty plea?'

"It's just truly disgraceful to be told I'm fortunate that my attacker was caught and said, ‘Oh yeah I did it’.

"What part of that is fortunate? I would be fortunate if it didn't happen".

Natasha O'Brien and Lunchtime Live presenter Andrea Gilligan Natasha O'Brien and Lunchtime Live presenter Andrea Gilligan. Image: Newstalk

Natasha O'Brien said she has not had communication with Minister McEntee.

"I've watched an interview, I've heard her speak but she's not really addressing the issue," she said.

"She's deflecting the blame on to the DPP.

"It's nothing got to do with the DPP, it's much bigger than the DPP - it's really her job," she added.

Ms O’Brien is joining a protest outside the Dáil at 6pm this evening to highlight the case.

She is also due to join other protests taking place at Limerick Courthouse on Wednesday and Cork Courthouse on Thursday.

Listen back here:

Main image: Split-screen image shows Natasha O'Brien speaking on Lunchtime Live and Justice Minister Helen McEntee

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Cathal Crotty Defence Forces Dáil Protest Helen McEntee Judge Tom O'Donnell Justice Minister Limerick Natasha O'Brien Simon Harris

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