Specially trained gardaí are to help interview four young children rushed to hospital following an attack at their home over the weekend.

Emergency services descended on the house in Blainroe, Co Wicklow, early on Friday evening after neighbours were alerted that the siblings, two boys and two girls aged from 11 to three, had been hurt.

Two of the children were airlifted from the scene as a precaution due to fears of spinal injuries but all four were discharged on Saturday after treatment at Tallaght Hospital and all are expected to make a full recovery.

The incident has caused deep shock in the locality which lies in tranquil coastal countryside half way between Wicklow town and Brittas Bay where the family are well-known and active in the community.

Just a week earlier they had celebrated one of the children’s first communion with a gathering of family and friends.

The children’s 35-year-old father, Stephen Harnett, was arrested and held for questioning overnight at Wicklow Garda Station.

He was brought before a special sitting of Bray District Court on Saturday night. Mr Harnett, of Kilpoole Upper, Blainroe, was charged with four counts of assault causing harm to the children under Section 3 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.

Arresting officer, Garda Neil Doyle, told the court that the accused made no reply when each of the charges were put to him.

Superintendent Paul Hogan asked Judge Gerard Furlong to remand him in custody and said no application for bail was being made. Mr Harnett, an electrician, was granted legal aid and assigned solicitor Kieran Conway.

Mr Conway said there was no objection to a remand in custody but he requested that his client undergo psychiatric evaluation as soon as possible.

The accused, who wore a grey t-shirt, grey sweatpants and white runners, sat for the most part with his head in his hands and did not speak throughout the brief proceedings.

Judge Furlong remanded him to appear before Cloverhill District Court in Dublin this Thursday and ordered that he receive psychological and medical assistance and a psychiatric evaluation in the meantime.


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