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O'Reilly abuse survivors are role models - not just for Traveller women but for us all

Martina Devlin


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Courage: Margaret Hutchinson and Helen O’Donoghue, daughters of convicted rapist James O’Reilly. Photo: Collins Courts

Courage: Margaret Hutchinson and Helen O’Donoghue, daughters of convicted rapist James O’Reilly. Photo: Collins Courts

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Courage: Margaret Hutchinson and Helen O’Donoghue, daughters of convicted rapist James O’Reilly. Photo: Collins Courts

Imagine being a child. Completely without power. Imagine if Daddy, who's meant to love and keep you safe, does unspeakable things to you sexually - things you don't even have a name for. Then imagine how you might look for help. What to do to get it stopped. Who you could tell. This secret is so appalling you can't possibly hide it.

Could you confide in your mother? She's in his power too. An older brother or sister? They don't have autonomy. But there must be someone you can talk to. 

What about a teacher? You're frightened you'll be called a liar - you don't expect anyone to listen to you. After all, you can hardly believe this living nightmare yourself. And your father has threatened you with foster care if you say anything. You might never see your family again.