While Gsoc has carried out a number of sex assault investigations involving adult victims, this is thought to be one of a very small number involving a child.
Sources have described the investigation as “extremely sensitive” and says that the interests and wellbeing of the child are paramount.
Gsoc has declined to confirm whether it is conducting an investigation and would not comment in any way about the matter.
It is understood the allegation was referred to the ombudsman by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, in line with protocols between the two organisations.
The interviewing of young children, particularly in cases of alleged sexual assault, is a highly specialised area. Investigators in Gsoc are trained in interviewing vulnerable witnesses, though they can also bring in external experts.
An Garda Síochána has specially trained officers in this area and these can be used by the ombudsman if required.
It is often the case in investigations similar to this that Gsoc investigators would work closely with An Garda Síochána.
It is thought that the nature of the investigation, and the people employed to carry out sensitive interviews, will be decided on the basis of what is in the best interests of the child, taking into account the views of her parents.
As part of the investigation, officers will identify if there are any other people who might have information.