Latest: Gardaí investigating child sex allegations release man without charge

Update - 9.18pm: Gardaí investigating the alleged sexual exploitation of children in Munster have released a man without charge.

A file is to be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Six women and four men remain in custody in garda stations throughout Munster.

5.59pm: Child sex allegations at 'extreme higher end of the scale' The allegations of child sexual abuse and child neglect of a number of children are said to be at the "extreme higher end of the scale."

Limerick journalist David Hurley told Newstalk radio: "Certainly the allegations and the complaints that have been made to Gardaí are very serious and it is being treated with a very, very high level of Garda involvement.

"It is at the very, very higher end of the scale as far as I understand it and it is being treated with the utmost seriousness."

Mr Hurley, a reporter with the Limerick Leader, said specialist detectives and senior Garda management have been aware of the allegations for "the guts of a year."

"A full investigation has been underway since the beginning of last summer," he said.

"There have been some searches carried out before yesterday and then a number of coordinated raids yesterday."

Mary Flaherty, CEO of CARI, a voluntary provider of support services for children affected by sexual abuse said, “that even after almost 30 years of providing specialised services for children this case is particularly disturbing".

* CARI’s specialised Helpline is available nationwide on Locall 1890 924567 Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5.30pm

* Childline is available 24 hours on 1800 66 66 66 (24 hours), by text to 50101 (10am - 4am daily) or online at Childline.ie (10am - 4am daily).

3.45pm: Number of children believed to have suffered abuse at hands of Munster paedophile ring

Eleven adults arrested yesterday as part of an investigation into an alleged Munster-based paedophile ring remain in custody, writes David Raleigh.

The suspects — six women and five men — are being questioned by gardai about allegations of child sexual abuse and child neglect of a number of children.

Those arrested are aged from their 20s to their 70s, and they are being questioned at garda stations throughout Munster.

According to reliable sources the alleged neglect and sexual abuse is at an extremely high level and have been described as 'absolutely horrendous'.

An official garda statement issued Monday read: “Gardaí ... in conjunction with the Limerick Divisional Protective Services Unit have arrested eleven (11) adults (six females and five males ranging in ages 20s to 70s) as part of an investigation into alleged sexual exploitation of children ...”

“All eleven were arrested in Limerick, Tipperary and Kerry and are detained at various Garda Stations in Limerick, Cork and Clare under the provisions of Section 4 – Criminal Justice Act 1984.”

Details of the exact locations where the abuse is alleged to have occurred cannot be disclosed for legal reasons, and in order to protect the identity of the alleged victims.

When asked for comment, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, responded: “Tusla does not comment on individual cases or on-going Garda investigations. However, all referrals of child protection and welfare concerns to Tusla are screened and assessed in line with ‘Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children’.”

Update 12.41pm: Gardaí continue to question 11 in connection with suspected child sex abuse ring

Gardaí in Munster are continuing to question 11 people in connection with a suspected child sex abuse ring.

The six women and five men were arrested yesterday as part of an investigation that has been underway for nearly a year.

Concerns about potential neglect and abuse of the children were first reported to Tusla last spring.

- Digital Desk

Earlier: 11 arrested over child sex abuse ring

By Cormac O’Keeffe

Eleven people — six women and five men — have been arrested in relation to a suspected child sex abuse ring in Limerick.

Those arrested are across the generations, some as young as their 20s and include people in their 70s.

It is understood this operation relates to a small number of child victims but that it is part of a much wider investigation into the ring, which is ongoing.

Gardaí are investigating how long the abuse has been going on.

In an operation combining gardaí from several districts and detectives from a recently-established regional specialist unit, arrests were conducted in Limerick, Tipperary, and Kerry.

In a statement, the Garda Press Office said members in conjunction with the Limerick Divisional Protective Services Unit carried out the arrests.

The unit is one of four divisional units set up in different parts of the country last year, attached to the National Protective Services Bureau.

The local units mirror the work of the national units and investigate sexual abuse against adults and children, domestic violence, human trafficking, and prostitution.

The Garda statement said six women and five men, ranging in ages 20s to 70s, were arrested as part of an investigation into “alleged sexual exploitation of children ...”.

It said the arrests were across three countries and that they were detained in various stations in Munster.

They are detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 and can be held for a maximum period of 24 hours, excluding breaks.

- Irish Examiner


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