Former Irish government minister investigated by gardaí over child sex abuse claims
A former government minister is being investigated by gardaí amid allegations that he sexually abused children.
A number of alleged victims have given separate statements claiming that they were subjected to abuse by the respected politician in the 1990s.
A high-level probe has now been launched and is likely to send shockwaves through political circles.
The Irish Independent has learned the alleged victims have individually outlined their stories to specialist detectives.
However, the investigation is in the early stages and the ex-minister has not yet had an opportunity to refute the allegations.
Sources revealed the alleged victims making the claims have emerged separately during the course of the past six months.
It is thought to be the first time a senior political figure in Ireland has found themselves at the centre of child abuse allegations.
The investigation is being led by the Garda National Protection Services Bureau (GNPSB), which is understood to be taking the complaints seriously.
The GNPSB is understood to have recently carried out a reconstruction of one of the scenes where it is alleged that the abuse took place.
The man at the centre of the inquiry had a distinguished career in politics.
The alleged victims, who are both male and female, claim they were assaulted at a location in Dublin and on separate occasions at an area in the midlands.
All of the adults who have made complaints to gardaí are from the Dublin region.
It is understood that the nature of allegations of sexual abuse is "not at the higher level of scale".
However, one of the complainants has also said he went to a Dublin garda station about the same man over a decade ago.
The alleged victim has told officers he made a previous effort to have the public figure investigated but that his statement was never properly followed up.
The Irish Independent has learned that despite claims the initial allegation was never progressed, no complaint about the lack of an investigation was ever received by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.
The GNPSB is a newly formed arm of An Garda Síochána and consists of highly trained detectives who provide advice, guidance and assistance to gardaí investigating child sexual abuse, other sexual crimes and domestic violence.
They are considered elite officers and are based at Harcourt Square in Dublin city centre.
Meanwhile, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office, there was an increase in the number of sexual offences during the 12 months up to the end of June this year.
The overall category saw an increase of 3.3pc, which included an increase of 6.7pc in rapes and 6.5pc in sexual assaults.