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Prof Marie Cassidy announced as patron of Victim Support at Court, Ireland

By March 29, 2024April 2nd, 2024News, News from members, Top Story

29 March 2024

Victim Support at Court (V-SAC) is delighted to announce that Prof Marie Cassidy, former State Pathologist, has agreed to become the new Patron of Victim Support at Court.

Photo courtesy: Prof. Marie Cassidy

V-SAC is the only charity in Ireland that specialises in court accompaniment for victims of all types of crime, their families, and witnesses when they come to court. It is free and confidential and is available to all victims of crime who are due to attend court. Last year, V-SAC supported 2,717 people across the country in trials and hearings involving crimes such as murder, rape, domestic violence, assault, theft, among others. This was an increase of 37% compared to 2022. There were 8,166 individual contact meetings, an increase of 41% on 2022. This shows how busy the service has become and the increase in demand for support by victims in criminal proceedings.

Professor Marie Cassidy has been a forensic pathologist for almost 40 years and was the State Pathologist in Ireland from 2004 until her retirement at the end of 2018. She was involved in the investigation of hundreds of ‘suspicious’ deaths and homicides and regularly gave evidence in the Central Criminal Courts of Justice at murder trials, as well as attending Inquests around the country.

“Even after 40 years, I still find court an alien place. I can only imagine how daunting it must be for victims of crimes; especially if they have to give evidence in a trial. It is so important that there is a strong support system for them, to guide them through the process. V-sac provides a friendly face, a strong shoulder and a helping hand. They provide an essential service to the justice system.’

Dympna Kenny, General Manager, Victim Support at Court said ‘We are delighted to welcome Prof Marie Cassidy as our Patron. We have come so far over the past few years, and this is a real pivotal moment for V-SAC as we continue to grow our organisation nationwide. Prof Marie Cassidy has already attended the V-SAC 2024 Volunteer Appreciation event. She addressed the group with a very witty and thought-provoking speech. She met V-SAC staff and volunteers and was given a tour of the Victim Support Area within the Criminal Courts of Justice, Parkgate St, Dublin. We are very excited to have Prof Marie Cassidy join us in raising awareness of the charity, supporting key initiatives, and promoting projects so the charity can continue to deliver its services across Ireland.’

Colm, one of the V-SAC volunteers says ‘Volunteering with V-SAC gives me an insight into the bravery and fortitude of people and their families who are victims of crime. I try to soothe the stressful situation of a court appearance by chatting to them about normal things such as sport, politics, books, or anything that interests them. I enjoy welcoming the families by making a cup of tea/coffee and by providing an empathetic ear to listen to their concerns before showing them an empty courtroom during a pretrial visit. I find it helps to calm their nerves somewhat. I feel so privileged to share the difficult journey from pre-trial to verdict. It never ceases to amaze me the power of the human spirit.’

This invaluable support will be vital in allowing Victim Support at Court to further its reach and expand its ability to support victims, regardless of the court they are due to attend. For more information about V-SAC, visit www.vsac.ie , email manger@vsac.ie or phone +353-1-872-6785.

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