A 39-year-old woman has been jailed for four years after being found guilty of 29 charges of neglect, assault and ill-treatment of her children.
Imposing sentence at Galway Circuit Criminal Court this afternoon, Judge Karen O'Connor said the abuse would have a lasting effect on the children.
During a nine-day trial last January, six of the woman's children gave evidence of the treatment they had been subjected to over a five-year period.
The assault, neglect and ill-treatment happened at various locations in the west of Ireland between 2006 and 2011.
The woman, who cannot be named to safeguard the identity of her children, had denied more than 40 charges. A jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts in respect of 29 of these.
As she reviewed the evidence given in relation to each of the charges this afternoon, Judge O'Connor pointed out how some of the children were as young as two when some of the assaults took place.
Judge O’Connor detailed how one child was pushed down the stairs by his mother.
On another occasion, the woman drove a car at two of her children after they had spilled a milkshake on the way home from a birthday party. Others were made to swallow washing up liquid and another had her head held under water.
Imposing sentence, the Judge spoke of the lasting impact the treatment would have. She noted the breach of trust that had taken place, saying it was difficult to be as vulnerable as a young child.
She spoke of an atmosphere that left the children "frightened, anxious and helpless" and said the cruelty perpetrated on them had a "profound effect".
Judge O'Connor said the pain of separation was significant for all the victims. She referred to the fact that there was a recurring theme of sadness that their family had been broken up.
She said it was the Court's view that the cumulative effect of the neglect was more damaging than the specific assaults.
Judge O’Connor imposed concurrent sentences ranging from 18 months to five years in respect of each of the 29 charges, allowing for mitigating factors and suspending the final six months.
The charges arose from an investigation after social workers made an unannounced visit to a house where they found infant children in the care of their young siblings, with two intoxicated and unrelated men also in the house.
The children were subsequently taken into care and details of the treatment they had been subjected to began to emerge.
During the trial the children told how there was a continual absence of food for them to eat; how they were constantly subjected to adults excessively consuming alcohol in the family home; how their clothing was regularly dirty and how they were often left unsupervised.
In all cases they outlined incidents of physical violence against them or their siblings.
The children's mother admitted administering corporal punishment when questioned by gardaí. She said she was not being violent and instead claimed she was disciplining her children.
The effect the treatment had on the seven children was detailed in psychologist reports and victim impact statements that were presented in court last week.
Several of the children told how their lives had improved since they had been taken into care. They outlined how their experiences had left them anxious, afraid and intimidated.
The children expressed sadness that they did not see their siblings as much as possible and reports stated the legacy of the adverse care would remain with them well into the future.
The woman's co-accused was a former partner of hers. At the start of his trial last December he pleaded guilty to five charges.
In court last week, the 48-year-old apologised for his actions. He said not a day went by when he did not regret what he had done.
Today he was given a two-year suspended sentence.
Judge O'Connor noted his plea, his expression of remorse and the manner in which he was trying to rehabilitate relationships with his own children.