Gardaí to interview boy (11) over alleged rape of girl (9)
Specially trained gardaí will be brought in to interview an 11-year-old boy who is accused of raping a girl aged nine.
However, the boy will not be arrested during the ongoing investigation into the incident, alleged to have happened on Easter Sunday.
The two children are members of well-respected families and the parents know each other.
The mother of one had been visiting the mother of the second child, when the assault is alleged to have taken place.
A full investigation is being carried out into the allegations by officers, who will then prepare a file on their inquiries.
The incident is said to have taken place last Sunday close to a house in a Leinster town.
An 11-year-old boy has been identified as a suspect in the case after a complaint was made to the local garda station.
It is understood that the alert was raised after the girl told her mother of what had allegedly taken place.
The nine-year-old girl has been examined by a paediatrician, who is an expert in this area. She did not require hospitalisation as a result of the assault. The young age of the two children involved means that "major complex issues arise" according to a source.
Gardaí are not allowed to arrest the boy for questioning. But officers can interview the boy, in the presence of his parents, about the events of Easter Sunday. One important focus of the investigation is whether the alleged attacker is suffering psychological issues himself.
The parents of the boy are believed to have sought assistance to help the child cope with difficulties that had arisen in the past.
The age of criminal responsibility stands at 12 years under the current legislation, after being raised from seven years in 2006.
Under the provisions of the Children Act 2001, no child under the age of 12 years can be charged with an offence.
But exemptions are made for 10 year and 11 year olds in cases of very serious offences, such as unlawful killing, rape or aggravated sexual assault.
The legislation also requires that the Director of Public Prosecutions must give consent for any child under the age of 14 years to be charged.
After investigating officers have completed their inquiries, a file will be sent to the office of the director of the Garda's national juvenile office, which is based at Harcourt Square in Dublin.
The office of the DPP will also be informed about the file.
Separate investigations will be held by welfare agencies including Tusla, the State agency responsible for child protection and welfare.
But they will also work closely with gardaí in determining the background to the case and reaching decisions on the future care and welfare of the two children.
Both sets of parents are understood to be co-operating fully with the inquiries into the incident. Both families have been described locally as "highly decent and very respectable people".
A garda spokesman confirmed that an investigation was under way and added that "no further details are available at this stage and investigations are continuing".