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James O'Reilly jailed for raping and abusing seven daughters

Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
Image caption O'Reilly was sentenced at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin

A 75-year-old man from County Tipperary has been jailed for 20 years for the repeated rape and sexual abuse of his seven daughters and his younger sister.

James O'Reilly, with an address at Killeens, Ballynonty, Thurles, subjected the teenage girls to "horrific" sexual abuse over a 23-year period, a court has heard.

They were also subjected to beatings, starvation and degradation.

He was sentenced at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin on Monday.

The judge described O'Reilly's actions as "horrific".

One of his daughters gave birth to his child, her sister, after she was raped by her father.

The victims, who waived their right to anonymity, said they were degraded and starved.

He continued to deny what he had done and showed no remorse when convicted.

The judge said it was not for O'Reilly's age he would have been given life in prison, but instead sentenced him to 20 years.

He paid tribute to the victims and their "courage, dignity, stoicism and an occasional flash of good humour".

In sentencing, he took into consideration O'Reilly's abuse of his position, the duration of the offending, the "incalculable pain and harm caused to the victims".

'Don't be afraid like we were'

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption O'Reilly's eldest daughter, Helen,(L), urged other victims of sexual abuse to 'come forward'

After the sentencing, the victims asked why the statutory authorities did not intervene sooner and questioned whether they were not protected because they were a Traveller family.

Speaking outside the court his eldest daughter Helen, surrounded by her six sisters, urged other victims of sexual abuse to stand up and "come forward".

"I was abused from the age of four upwards so I would say, all women - never mind traveller woman who were abused - come forward.

"Don't be afraid like we were. We didn't know who to go to or what to do. We got no education, we got nothing," she said.

"Now I'm not afraid. He's going to do time for what he did years ago," she said.

She said he would have gone to jail sooner if his daughters had had the "strength and courage" to come forward years ago.

She said it "made us stronger," that they had finally done so.

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