Come forward: O'Reilly sisters powerful message to survivors as father is jailed for sexual abuse
James O'Reilly raped and abused his younger sister and seven daughters over a 23-year period.
By Clodagh Meaney
Don't be afraid to come forward - that's the powerful message seven sisters want to get across as their 75-year-old father is jailed for sexually abusing them over a 23-year period.
James O'Reilly was today sentenced to 20 years in prison for repeatedly raping and abusing his seven daughters and his younger sister beginning in 1977.
O'Reilly from Killeens, Ballynonty, Thurles, Co Tipperary went to trial last year where he
pleaded not guilty to 81 counts of rape and sexual abuse.
After a five-week trial, a jury convicted him of 58 counts of rape and nine counts of sexual assault in December.
The sisters waived their right to anonymity in order to allow the name of their rapist to be publicised.
Speaking to RTE News outside court at the sentencing today, surrounded by her sisters, the eldest daughter Helen begged women, especially Traveller women, to not be afraid and to come forward in cases of abuse.
"I'm the oldest sister, and I was abused from the age of four upwards, so I would say to all women, nevermind traveller women, all women out there, that was abused, or anything happened to them, come forward," she began.
"Don't be afraid like we were afraid."
"We didn't know who to go to, what to do, we got no education, we got nothing. So I'd say to them stand up, and be who you are, don't be afraid, like what we were. We were afraid for years," she continued.
"I hid what my father done for 40 years and I never told no one, my husband, my children, no body for 40 years."
"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," she added.
In 1988, the rape of one of his daughters resulted in her becoming pregnant. DNA tests showed that O'Reilly was the father which became crucial evidence in the case against him.