Sisters who survived abuse urge victims to come forward

Women say justice has arrived as their brother is jailed for 18 months

The judge said he was hugely impressed with the victim impact statements delivered by the two sisters after their brother pleaded guilty.

Two sisters who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of their brother over 30 years ago have encouaged other victims to come forward and report abuse.

Annemarie O’Connor and Margaret O’Connell, both in their 40s, spoke of their relief after their brother Gerard O’Connor was jailed for 18 months for abusing them in the 1970s.

“We are delighted that our day of justice has arrived. We hope our pursuit of that justice will encourage and inspire other innocent survivors and indeed current victims to come forward.

“We were inspired by those who went ahead of us when they were neither encouraged nor believed - they are the heroes who gave voice to the voiceless,” they said.


“They are the ones who have encouraged a higher standard of child protection and the protection of children is paramount especially within the family home.

“We would encourage all adults to be watchful - child sexual abuse is not something that comes and goes, it is a constant in our society so we as adults must be vigilant at all times.”

O'Connor (57) of Grange Vale, Pinecroft, Grange, Cork had pleaded guilty last week at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to 33 counts of indecently assaulting his two sisters.

The abuse happened at the family home at O’Riordan’s Terrace, Tramore Rd, Cork in the 1970s when the girls were aged eight to eleven and ten to 14 while he was aged 18-22.

Prosecution barrister Ray Boland BL told the court that both women wanted O’Connor named in media reports and had no difficulty with being named themselves in any report.

Investigating Garda Fiona Burns had earlier told the court that O'Connor, who has his own printing business, had offered each woman €10,000 in compensation but they had both declined the offer.

Sentencing today, Judge Sean O Donnnabhain said he was hugely impressed with the victim impact statements delivered by the two sisters after O'Connor pleaded guilty.

It was clear from their statements that O’Connor’s gross interference with them when they were children had a shockingly detrimental effect on them throughout their lives.

“The hurt that he caused to his two sisters when they were young girls was huge - they are now grown women but they still carry that hurt with them today,” he said.

Judge O Donnabhain said O'Connor's guilty plea on all counts was a public acknowledgment of the wrong he had done to his two sisters who had been vindicated by his guilty plea.

He noted that they were aged just eight and 10 when the abuse started whereas O’Connor was 18 and that age difference marked a serious breach of trust on his part.

He noted that one of the woman had said that O’Connor should have been protecting them at that stage in his life but instead he had violated their innocence and vulnerability.

However he noted that while these were all aggravating factors, there were also mitigating factors including the early guilty plea and his remorse for what he had done.

He said he was also taking into account O’Connor’s willingness to go for counselling in the 1990s after he was convicted of exposing himself and offending public modesty.

He sentenced O’Connor to 18 months on nine counts of indecently assaulting Annemarie and 18 months on six counts of indecently assaulting Margaret, both sentences to run concurrently

He also sentenced O’Connor to a further 18 months for a further nine counts relating to Annemarie and 18 months for a further nine counts relating to Margaret.

He made both of these 18 month sentences concurrent with each other and consecutive to the first 18 months but suspended them on condition he keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times