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Ministers praise courage of father's victims in rape case

December 10, 2011 ·  By LORNA SIGGINS, irishtimes.com

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Ministers praise courage of father's victims in rape case

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald

TWO GOVERNMENT Ministers have expressed their “shock and abhorrence” at the circumstances surrounding the physical and sexual abuse of a group of children by their 50-year-old father who received a life sentence yesterday.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald described the case as “barbaric”, and said their thoughts were with the victims who showed “great courage in coming forward to the authorities”.

The Ministers also paid tribute to the Garda investigative team whose “tenacity and hard work in investigating the case led to the conviction of the man involved”.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sentenced to life by Mr Justice Paul Carney at a Central Criminal Court in Co Mayo after he pleaded guilty to charges of rape of four daughters. A concurrent sentence of up to seven years for assault and ill-treatment was imposed.

The man is already serving a 14-year sentence for multiple counts of rape and assault of a fifth daughter, who bore two children by her father, between 1986 and 2000.

His wife was jailed earlier this year for eight years, having pleaded guilty to charges of cruelty to six daughters and two sons.

The Health Service Executive had contact with the family since 2000, and one of the daughters made a statement to gardaí that same year which led to her father’s arrest.

She subsequently withdrew her statement under pressure from her parents.

The HSE said an independent review has been under way into its involvement with the family. A number of children have been in care since 2009 and have care plans that involve access to specialist services.

The two Ministers renewed their call for anyone with concerns or information to assist the HSE and Garda in their work to protect children.

Mr Shatter said he hoped to publish the Criminal Justice (Withholding Information on Crimes against Children and Vulnerable Adults) Bill 2011 in the “next month or so”. The Government is committed to putting the Children First Guidance for the protection and welfare of children on a statutory basis, Ms Fitzgerald said.

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