A young girl who says she was repeatedly raped and sexually abused by her parents and relatives has said she may have been mistaken about the involvement of two of the accused, a 32-year-old aunt and her grandmother.
When cross-examined by defence barrister Seamus Clarke, the girl accepted that her recollection that her aunt was present while an uncle abused her and that she had taken photographs may not be correct.
The woman is one of seven on trial accused of sexually abusing three children.
She has denied two charges of sexually abusing the girl and two charges of sexual exploitation.
Mr Clarke told the girl his client had told gardaí she was not present when the girl was abused nor did she ever take any photographs.
When asked if she could have been mistaken, the girl said "I think I might have made a mistake. Now that I remember I don't think she was doing it, now that I think about it I don't think she was much involved."
She also agreed with Maria Brosnan, defence counsel for her grandmother, that she could have made the same mistake about the involvement of her grandmother.
It was pointed out that she had not mentioned being abused by her grandmother the first time she spoke to gardaí but that later she had written her grandmother's name on list of those who had abused her.
Asked if it was possible she could have made the same mistake, she said: "Yes now that I realise, I can't actually remember her doing anything."
The 57-year-old grandmother has pleaded not guilty to three charges of sexually abusing the girl.
Both the aunt and her grandmother had been named by the girl in a garda interview conducted in 2017 as being among seven people who who abused her.
She was nine years old when the interview took place and she estimated the abuse had occurred when she was between the ages of five and seven.
Cross-examination of the girl by defence barristers began this afternoon. The girl gave evidence by video link from a special facility in her home county.
The judge explained to the jury that the law allowed for evidence to be taken from child witnesses in this way and that the cross-examination of child witnesses was somewhat different.
He said the process was deformalised as much as possible and was aimed to be straightforward and simple.
The questioning of child witnesses would not be as robust and frequent breaks would be taken, the judge explained.
The girl was accompanied by a specialist intermediary to help her understand the questions.
We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
On a number of occasions the intermediary intervened to remind defence counsel to phrase their questions in a simple manner. She also intervened to ask for breaks in the cross-examination.
Counsel for the girl's father, Mark Nichols SC, reminded the girl she could stop the questioning at any time and told her to raise her hand and say "stop, Mark" whenever she wanted.
He asked the girl about her foster family and asked if she used to see her parents and siblings more when she first went into foster care. She agreed that she did.
He took her through a book of photographs of her former home and she confirmed the various rooms in the house.
He referred to the interviews she had given to gardaí which had been shown to the court earlier.
Mr Nicholas told the girl that while she had said her father had done certain things to her, this was denied. Mr Nicholas also told her that her father denies sending her photographs and denies sending a message saying "don't tell".
He asked her if she could remember an incident with her foster father where she had jumped on his lap and wanted to play and when he pushed her off she was not happy and said she would tell her foster mother that he had hit her.
The girl said she did not remember that.
Asked by defence counsel for her mother, Dean Kelly, if she remembered much about her former home she said she could not.
She confirmed that her room had been painted pink because she liked that colour when she was small and that she had characters from the movie Frozen on her bedroom curtains.
She also agreed that photographs of the sitting room in her house showed family photographs on the fireplace.
She said she remembered her first day in foster care because they made jigsaw puzzles. She agreed that her foster parents were very kind people and she liked living with them from the start.
She agreed she liked the food in her foster home and that she sometimes helped to prepare meals. She liked that she could have a shower or bath whenever she wanted and that they encouraged her to brush her teeth every day.
She also agreed that a holiday she went on with her foster family was the first holiday she had ever been on. She also agreed that Santa had brought her a tablet for her first Christmas in foster care.
She did not remember what she talked about to her parents and siblings during visits with them when she first went into foster care. She did not remember her birth parents telling her they wanted her to come back to live with them.
Mr Kelly explained to the girl that as a barrister it was his job to ask questions and to also tell witnesses what other people said about the evidence they had given.
He said it was his job to tell her that her mother had said the things she had alleged about her mother in her recorded interviews had not happened. He asked if she understood that and she replied "yes".
During cross-examination by senior counsel Conor Devally, who represents the girl's 27-year-old uncle, the girl agreed that she liked the two specialist gardaí who conducted the interviews with her.
He noted that the note she had written down what allegedly happened to her and it was addressed to the gardaí by name and had a heart beside it. He asked if she might have been trying to please them or make them happy by talking to them but she said she could not remember what her feelings were at that time.
Mr Devally said it was his job to tell her that her uncle whom he represented said he did not do any of the things she says he did to her.
He asked if she remembered being given cough medicine or some dose of medicine as a family. The girl said her parents but mainly her father would given them medicine every night to make them go to sleep quickly.
Earlier, the jury heard further evidence from a recording of an interview with the girl in 2017 when she was nine years old.
In the interview, she read from notes she had made detailing contact with a number of family members after she went into foster care.
The girl said she used Facebook to make contact and had texted her brother and her father. She said she sent her father a message asking how he was and he replied he was fine.
The child said her father sent her a message to say "don't tell about the touching or you will be in trouble". She said he also asked her to send a photograph of her bottom, which she did.
The girl went on to say that her parents and others had previously taken photographs of her being sexually assaulted by an uncle and had "posted them on Facebook".
Photographs of her and her brother had also been taken and posted on Facebook, she said. She had seen some of the photographs on her father's phone and her father had also shown her a photograph, she said.
The girl said her uncle also texted her after she had been taken into care in 2016 and asked: "Where are you?" She replied: "I’m in foster care, why?"
She said she had also been sent photographs of her parents having sex and photographs of her being sexually abused by an uncle.
The girl told a specialist garda interviewer that was "everything I can remember that happened in our old house".
She was asked what was good about living in her old house and she said it was good because she had her own room.
The seven on trial include the children's parents, their aunts and uncles and their grandmother. The parents also face charges of neglect in relation to five of their children.
There are 91 charges in total. All seven deny all the charges.
It is alleged that some of the children were assaulted by being medicated and that they were made to engage in sexual activity with other children and adults.
Each of the seven defendants has pleaded not guilty to the offences, which are alleged to have happened between 2014 and 2016. The children were taken into care in 2016.
The children’s identities must be protected and neither they nor the accused can be named or identified in any way. For that reason most of the witnesses in the trial cannot be named.
The children's father has pleaded not guilty to 34 charges, including rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, assault and neglect of his children.
His wife has pleaded not guilty to 25 charges, including sexual assault, sexual exploitation and assault, including allowing the children to be sexually assaulted by others. She also faces charges of neglect.
Another man, aged 48, has denied 12 charges, including rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation of three of the children.
A 35-year-old woman has pleaded not guilty to three charges of sexual assault of two of the children.
A 27-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to ten charges, including rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation.
A 32-year-old woman has pleaded not guilty to four charges, including sexual assault and sexual exploitation of two of the children.
A 57-year-old woman has pleaded not guilty to three charges of sexual assault.