A judge has called in the gardaí after hearing that a father strips his three children - one girl as young as three - and flogs them twice weekly with a belt as they lie on the floor.
Judge Patrick Durcan made the intervention to call in the gardaí to mount a criminal investigation after hearing the children's mother make the allegation at a behind-closed-doors Family Law Court hearing in Ennis, Co Clare.
The woman gave evidence of the beatings by her husband to their children aged seven, six and three, when seeking a protection order against him.
In her written statement grounding the application for the protection order, the mother said: "In the past, my husband was more physically abusive and aggressive towards me, but he now directs most of his abuse towards the children.
"My husband flogs the children twice weekly by removing their clothing, making them lay on the floor and beating them with his belt."
Judge Durcan summoned Sergeant Aiden Lonergan of Ennis garda station to the in-camera court sitting and told him of the allegations after the mother said she'd like the judge's assistance in having gardaí involved.
When the woman told Judge Durcan she had not reported the assaults to gardaí, he said: "This should be reported immediately to the gardaí."
The woman said she did go to a local garda station but it was closed at the time.
Asked by Judge Durcan if they had been severe beatings, the woman stated: "Sometimes, when he is very angry."
The Court Registrar confirmed as part of mandatory reporting requirements he informed the Child and Family Agency (CFA) of the allegations.