'Activist' has abuse sentence doubled

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The Independent Online

A A self-styled human rights campaigner who was jailed in the Irish Republic for the sexual abuse of his daughter had his sentence doubled yesterday in a Dublin court.

Vincent McKenna, once a hero of anti-IRA campaigners in Belfast, had his sentence increased from three to six years after the Irish Director of Public Prosecutions appealed against the leniency of his sentence. McKenna, 38, was prominent for leading campaigns against the IRA and loyalist paramilitary groups.

Describing himself as a one-time IRA member who had turned away from violence, he set up his own Northern Ireland Human Rights Bureau. This highlighted so-called punishment attacks and the plight of those who were "exiled" on the orders of paramilitary groups. Although these activities were real enough, McKenna was viewed as exaggerating them and was suspected of staging a number of attacks at his own home.

McKenna was convicted of abusing his daughter, Sorcha, regularly over an eight-year period, when she was between four and 12 years old.

Sorcha, who waived her anonymity, welcomed the increased sentence handed down by the Irish Court of Criminal Appeal. Now a law and philosophy student at Galway University, she said: "I am absolutely delighted. We were hopeful there would be an increase, but we did not expect three years."

Her mother, Fiona, added: "I can't believe it. He deserves more, of course, but three years is a bonus for us. Sorcha broke down when I told her on the phone."

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