A father and mother who sexually abused their children and allowed them to be raped and abused by others have been jailed for 15 and nine years.

It follows the conviction of five adults from the same family who carried out a range of sexual offences against very young children when they were all aged under nine-years-old.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott said it could not be ignored that social services were engaged with and trying to help the family at the same time as the "most awful kind of sexual abuse" was taking place.

He said the abuse had been successfully hidden from social services and the parents had deceived social workers.

Despite the parents being found to have borderline or mild intellectual disabilities, the judge said he had no doubt they knew what they were doing was wrong and had shown no indication of regret or remorse.

The judge jailed the 57-year-old father for 15 years after he was found guilty of all 31 offences against him.

These included raping his three older children, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, wilful neglect and child cruelty.

The 34-year-old mother was jailed for nine years. She was found guilty of all 25 offences against her, including sexual assault, sexual exploitation and wilful neglect of her children.

The judge said she had a high level of culpability for the continued neglect of her children and allowing the abuse to continue under her own roof.

The children's 49-year-old uncle was jailed for 15 years. He was found guilty of all 10 counts against him including rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation of the three eldest children.

The judge described his offending as "depraved and humiliating for the children" adding that it was exploitation of the worst and utterly shocking kind.

The children's 35-year-old aunt was jailed for three years for her part in the abuse, which involved three counts of sexually assaulting two of the children.

The children's 27-year-old uncle was jailed for 15 years. He was found guilty of eight of the nine charges against him in relation to two of the children, including rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation.

It was described by the judge as exploitation of the "most appalling and depraved kind."

A number of shorter sentences were imposed on the parents and uncles for the lesser offences but these will be served at the same time.

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Mr Justice McDermott said he had considered if the sentences should be imposed consecutively but this would be disproportionate.

He said there was no reason to suspend any portion of the sentences for the purposes of rehabilitation because all five accused were still rejecting the jury verdicts and claiming to be innocent.

The judge said the parents had failed in their central duty to nurture and protect their children and caused them physical, emotional pain and suffering to a very high degree.

He cited the appalling level of sexual abuse which they had committed and allowed others to commit and said they had shown no indication of regret or remorse.

He said the offences were carried out against very young children by all of the main adult figures in their family meaning they had no adult to turn to and were in total isolation.

The parents had engaged in prolonged period of neglect of their five children over a period of years which extended into every facet of their lives.

The appalling suffering and damage had to be taken into account, he said, adding that the parents had a high degree of criminal culpability.

The judge said there was no doubt that the effect of the abuse on the children has been enormous.

"The suffering they have endured has been enormous. The difficulties and stresses that they have been under have been enormous," he said.

"I have little doubt there are difficulties they will face in the future resulting out of the consequences of what was done to them and what was not done for them and that this will have an effect on each of their lives."

He said the evidence from the foster parents about the children's condition was "stark" and they had not expected the level of care the children would require.

However they had carried out a "herculean task" in caring for the children who were "so damaged and so lacking in care", the judge said.

He said there was no doubt the children had benefited from hugely from their foster parents and the care and attention which was enormous. He said the level of love and care they had received had enriched their lives.

Mr Justice McDermott paid tribute to the lead investigating garda for what he said was the very high degree of professional care and attention which he brought to the case.

He also paid tribute to the other gardaí who were involved in the investigation into what was "an extremely difficult and disturbing events".

He also paid tribute to social workers who had engaged with the family. The trial heard the family had been on the "radar" of Tusla since 2011 and the children were finally taken into care in 2016 on grounds of chronic neglect.

It later emerged that they had been repeatedly raped, sexually abused and exploited. The offences took place between 2014 and 2016.

Extensive reporting restrictions remain in place for the welfare of the children and details of the of sexual abuse cannot be reported.

At a sentence hearing last week victim impact statements were submitted on behalf of three of the children and from the foster families of all five children.

The eldest child who is now a teenager said his family should never be allowed near children again.

The trial last year heard harrowing evidence of the neglect of five of the children.

Foster parents testified that the children were in a shocking state in relation to their hygiene and dental care.

The children had behavioural issues around food and some did not know how to use cutlery.

After the trial guilty verdicts were returned in 77 of 78 charges. Forty-two verdicts were unanimous, the remainder were majority verdicts.

The jury returned the verdicts after deliberating for a total of just under 20 hours over a number of days.

The verdicts followed nine weeks of evidence which began with the testimony of two of the children.

It was relayed to the jury by recorded video interviews which had been carried out in 2017 by gardaí who are specially trained to take evidence from vulnerable witnesses.

The children were aged nine and eight at the time of the interviews during which they said they had been abused by various family members.

The girl and boy, now aged 13 and 12, were later cross examined live by video link in the presence of an intermediary who helped them to understand the questions.

The older boy gave his evidence live by video link.

Now aged 15, he also described abuse and exploitation which he said took place in the family home by a number of adults.

The trial heard the mother of the children admitted to gardaí after her arrest that she had abused some of her children and said she was sorry for what happened.

She also named a number of others who she said had also abused the children.

She said it happened once or twice a week and that she had been encouraged by others to take part.

The prosecution said these admissions were some of the strongest pieces of evidence they had.

However the defence argued that the woman, who has a mild learning disability, had been intimidated and humiliated by the interview process and had resiled from those admissions.

All of the other defendants had denied any wrongdoing when interviewed by gardaí.

All five had pleaded not guilty at trial.