Justice Minister Alan Shatter has said that the suspect in the alleged sexual assaults in Athlone does not have a past conviction for committing a sexual offence.
Gardai are investigating how two girls were subjected to a horrific ordeal after being lured from a children’s birthday party.
Mr Shatter dismissed rumours that the suspect being interviewed by Gardai been released from prison after serving sentence for sexual offenses.
It is understood the man was in jail for other offences.
“It is incorrect to suggest that an individual being questioned is someone who has been released from prison following on their being convicted for committing a sexual offence,” he said.
Mr Shatter told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show that as Minister for Justice, he could not say anything that could in any way prejudice the garda investigation or any potential prosecution.
But he said given people’s genuine fears and worries, he felt it was important that he set the record right.
“There is no issue of an individual being interviewed who has previously been convicted for a sexual offense. I am advised that is the position,” he said.
Meanwhile, some 150 protestors have gathered outside the courthouse in Athlone.
The man remains in garda custody.
Two other men were released from custody earlier today and a file has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.