Child attack 'a parent's nightmare'
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the attack on the two girls is the most appalling nightmare for any parent.
Following the appearance of a man in court over the rapes, Mr Kenny said politicians were united in their condemnation of last Saturday's assaults.
And he also paid tribute to the people of Athlone and their reactions to the incident.
"There are few people in the house here who have not had experience in one way or another of a family, or particularly of children, when they go missing for short periods or whatever. But to have this inflicted on the dignity and the integrity and the sacred space of two young girls is simply appalling," Mr Kenny said.
"Insofar as is humanly possible, the special facilities and the resources, not only of community, but of all those who have special training in this area will continue, of course, to be made available where these unfortunate cases arise."
The Taoiseach offered sympathy and understanding on behalf of all politicians to the parents and to the children affected.
"I would compliment the people of Athlone for the manner in which they have restrained themselves in dealing with this situation, where I understand an individual has been charged with the rape of two young girls," he said.
"This is the most appalling nightmare for any parent to hear of this and to receive this news."
He said: "For this to happen in broad daylight when two little girls, innocent in their childhood, were playing and were lured away speaks for itself."