Statement on behalf of Limerick Pride regarding Natasha O’Brien

Statement on behalf of Limerick Pride regarding Natasha O’Brien

Limerick LGBT+ Pride is appalled by the court ruling that soldier Cathal Crotty was allowed to walk free on Thursday, June 20, from Limerick Circuit Criminal Court after receiving a fully suspended sentence despite pleading guilty to the unprovoked and vicious assault Natasha O’Brien, a young Limerick woman who was beaten unconscious by the Irish soldier. The attack was motivated by deep rooted homophobia as Natasha came to the aid of a gay man who was being called homophobic slurs by Cathal Crotty. 

The incident in question took place on May 29, 2022, when Natasha and a friend were returning home from work and “politely” asked Crotty, who was not known to them and had been consuming alcohol throughout the evening, to stop shouting “f*ggot” at other people on the street. The 22-year-old Irish soldier is said to have directed his aggression towards the women, shouting homophobic insults at O’Brien, who identifies as lesbian, before physically attacking her. The court was told that Crotty grabbed the now 24-year-old by the hair with one hand and punched her to the ground with the other, striking her up to six times until she lost consciousness. The woman sustained a broken nose and bruising, and said she thought she was going to be killed. Crotty fled when a male passerby intervened, but his friends remained at the scene on Limerick’s O’Connell Street. Afterwards, the assailant bragged about the incident on Snapchat, saying: “Two to put her down, two to put her out”, in reference to punching O’Brien four times.

Despite O’Brien’s victim impact statement and the vicious attack, Judge Tom O’Donnell said Crotty “must be given credit” for pleading guilty. “In fairness to him, he has come to court and publicly admitted his wrongdoing, and he has made a public acknowledgement of his criminality,” the judge said. He also expressed that he must consider Crotty’s career as a soldier, saying it would be taken away from him if he served jail time. The Judge granted the attacker a three-year fully suspended sentence and ordered him to pay €3,000 compensation to the victim. That’s not justice!

Limerick Pride Festival would like to send a strong message that the Defence Forces are not welcome to participate in Limerick Pride in uniform on July 13th. PRIDE IS and ALWAYS WILL BE A PROTEST!

We are very aware that there are many in the defence forces who are strongly against what has happened and many who are a part of our community who serve them too. If you identify or are allies, then you are more than welcome to attend & enjoy the day with family & friends but without uniforms or banners.

Like our counterparts in Dublin, we are aware that there are huge numbers of our defence forces and court services personnel who are decent and hardworking, and they will always be welcome at pride – but as our priority is to respond to calls from the wider LGBTQI+ community, we have asked they do so unbranded, if they choose to come this year.

The committee has voted all in favour of this decision and statement.

We have heard many stories about homophobia, from our local community over the last number of months, which is concerning. The message sent out very clearly from this case to the LGBTQ+ community both locally and nationally, is very disappointing.

We ask that all departments educate and bring more awareness to their staff members regarding Pride and the LGBTQI+ community.

This year marks 50 years since the first ever Pride movement in Ireland. While we have come a long way since then we still have so much more to do, unfortunately we are not equal.

The LGBTQI+ community has shown its solidarity and resilience together for many years and will continue to do so taking to the streets on Saturday, July 13th  as we march proudly to this year’s Limerick Pride theme, I AM WHAT I AM.

From all the Limerick Pride committee, we are sending you all lots of love. Happy Pride!

Lisa Daly

Festival Director of Limerick Pride.

If you have been affected by this story or are looking to reach out to someone for support, advice or just to talk, there are numerous services available for LGBTQ+ people, many of which offer instant messaging support:

GOSHH, Samaritans,, LGBT Helpline, The Switchboard Dublin, Lesbian Line, Belong To, TENI, LGBTQI Pavee Point Aware, Pieta House, Jigsaw, Mental Health Ireland. We also have a tab added to our website of LGBT services.