Eleven people ranging in age from 20s up to 70s have been arrested by gardai investigating the activities of a paedophile ring operating in Munster.
All of the suspects detained in a major garda operation are members of an extended family.
Six of the eleven arrested are women.
They were arrested in raids on homes in counties Limerick, Tipperary and Kerry.
They were being held last night at garda stations in Limerick, Cork and Clare under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.
They can be held without charge for up to 24 hours, excluding rest periods.
Senior gardai said last night that the raids and arrests were the culmination of an investigation that has been under way for at least nine months.
The victims are understood to have been from west Limerick.
Gardai said details emerging about the sex abuse and exploitation of the victims were horrific.
They said the abusers appeared to have been operating as an part of an organised ring and seemed to be known to each other.
Child care services have been alerted about the abuse. They were informed last night about the arrests.
The massive garda operation included gardai from Newcastle West, Bruff, Henry Street, Mayorstone and Roxboro Road stations, all in county Limerick, as well as the Limerick divisional protective services unit.