DOZENS more arrests are expected to be made by Gardaí investigating what has been described as the worst paedophile ring uncovered in the history of the State.
On Tuesday night, 11 people arrested as part of the investigation were released without charge. Files are now being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The six women and five men, who were questioned over a 24 hour period since last Monday, were detained at Garda Stations in Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and Cork.
Gardaí received complaints from up to 20 alleged victims over an eight month period and although the arrests were made in the region, it is believed that the paedophile ring was operating beyond the Munster region.
The 11 people arrested are understood to be members of an extended family, ranging in age from 20 to 70 years. They were detained under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.
Gardai from across the Limerick division including Newcastle West, Bruff, Mayorstone Henry Street, Roxboro and the Protection Services Unit were all involved in Monday’s operation.
On Tuesday night, sources said that the allegations made by the young victims were at the “very extreme end of such child abuse”.
The Limerick Post now understands that dozens more arrests are likely within the next month as the numbers alleged to be involved in child abuse grows.
Arrests are also likely outside the Munster region as abusers who allegedly arranged for access to the children are investigated.
Gardaí first received complaints during 2017 and the investigation was launched with the Limerick based Protection Services Unit at the heart of the operation.
Several raids and arrests were made previously, but this week’s operation was the biggest to date.
A source close to the investigation told the Limerick Post that the material and allegations “are at the worst level, some haven’t even seen this level before” and that this case well become one of the most notorious in the State’s history.
Some of the children were groomed from birth for the abuse and were raped by family members from a very young age.
The scale of abuse the children were subjected to by non-family members is as yet unknown but Gardaí say that the latest arrests are just the start of a wider criminal inquiry that is focusing on physical abuse.
Before Monday’s arrests, the children who were subjected to the abuse had been removed to State agencies and placed in emergency care.
Mary Flaherty, chief executive of child advocacy service CARI said “that even after almost 30 years of providing specialised services for children who had experienced child sexual abuse, the extent and depravity of this case are particularly disturbing.
“The number of female offenders involved, the reports that all are members of an extended family, the ages of the children from new-born to pre-pubescent make this the most horrific and extensive criminal operation against children in CARI’s knowledge.
“Previous evidence of intra-familial abuse suggests that while exceptional in scale such corrupt families have been found in many corners of this country in recent decades,” she added.
On Wednesday afternoon, a judge clarified and reaffirmed a court order on reporting restrictions associated with the case and urged the media to be responsible in its reporting.
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