WORLD champion race walker Rob Heffernan has apologised for posting an offensive tweet on Twitter after gardai removed two Roma children from their families on unfounded suspicions.
The 50km gold medallist said his tweet was a "knee-jerk reaction" and he feels huge remorse in hindsight.
He added that he wanted to apologise unreservedly to anyone who was offended by it.
Fans of the athlete hit out at him on social networking sites, with one stating he was "quick to spew bile".
Meanwhile, Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald has said Section 12 of the 1991 Child Care Act, which is used to remove children at risk from their home, would be re-examined if an investigation by the Ombudsman for Children found that changes to the legislation were necessary.
Her comments came following the temporary placing of two Roma children into State care earlier this week.
She said the powers of investigation given to Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan into the procedures and protocols used by the authorities would complement the independence of the office and ensure that public trust was maintained.
It has also emerged that Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan are waiting for the findings of the Children's Ombudsman into the taking into care of the two Roma children before making any apology, their respective spokespersons said yesterday.
The Taoiseach's spokesman said Mr Kenny had been asked repeatedly in the previous 48 hours if he would issue an apology and his response was that he was awaiting the findings of Ms Logan. Mr Shatter's spokeswoman said the minister had made a statement during the week and that he had asked Ms Logan to investigate, and "that is the position at the moment".
Commissioner Martin Callinan's spokesman said he was also awaiting the report by Ms Logan.