A 75-year-old man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the repeated rape and sexual assault of his seven daughters and his younger sister over a 23-year period.
James O'Reilly from Killeens, Ballynonty, Thurles in County Tipperary subjected the teenager to sexual abuse, as well as physical beatings, starvation, and degradation. One of his daughters gave birth to O'Reilly's child, her sister.
Speaking at Dublin's Central Criminal Court, on Tuesday, Mr. Justice Tony Hunt described O'Reilly's actions as horrific. He also highlighted the escalating and repetitive nature of his crimes.
The seven sisters left the Dublin court relieved that their father had been sent to prison.
‘Come forward and ‘don’t be afraid’ - Helen, whose father James O'Reilly was jailed for 20 years for the repeated rape and sexual abuse of his seven daughters and his younger sister, appeals to other victims of abuse. More @rtenews. pic.twitter.com/jxwnEXs8CD— RTÉ (@rte) June 15, 2020
She said "Now I am not afraid, because I know he’s gone, he is going to do the time for what he did years ago if we had the strength and the courage years ago to come forward.
"But do you know what? It makes us stronger."
The sisters explained that O'Reilly had degraded them and starved them. He spent all his money on himself and in the pub.
They also questioned why they had not being protected from this 23-year ordeal. As members of the Traveller community, they questioned whether this abuse would have been allowed to continue if it had occurred within a settled family in Ireland.
Even when he was convicted O'Reilly denied the charges and showed no remorse.
Justice Hunt commented that if O'Reilly was not already 75-years-old he would have sentenced him to life in prison for his crimes. The judge also commended the bravery "the courage of the victims and noted the stoicism, as well as the occasional flashes of good humor, shown by them throughout the lengthy trial," the RTE reported.
Following the conviction Jack Griffin, a family support worker with Tipperary Rural Traveller Project called on a review of the case. He said the Irish State had failed these eight women.
Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland, Griffin said Travellers often don't engage with State services due to the racism and discrimination they've experienced.
On the same radio show Sharon O'Halloran, the CEO of SAFE Ireland, agreed that the State and systems failures need to be examined. She said she has "no doubt" that the fact that the O'Reilly's are a Traveller family compounded the issue.