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Pics: Crowds at Athlone courthouse as one still held in sexual assault investigation

It has been reported that the two girls, aged six and nine, were lured away from a party in the town before being assaulted.

Updated at 13.06

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TWO MEN HAVE been released without charge in Athlone following their arrest on Saturday in connection with an alleged serious sexual assault on two young girls in the town. A third man, also arrested Saturday evening is still being held at Athlone Garda Station.

Large crowds have gathered at the courthouse today with signs saying we should ‘protect children’.

It has been reported that the two girls, believed to be aged six and nine, were lured away by a man from a children’s party in the town on Saturday.

It is alleged that they were then subjected to a serious sexual assault at a property nearby and later escaped through a window and alerted adults at the party.

Crowds gathering

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(Image: Niall Carson/PA)

A large crowd gathered at Athlone District Courthouse from early this morning with up to 300 people there now holding banners urging the government to ‘protect children’ and saying that offenders should be ‘named and shamed’. It is understood many of the people involved have now moved towards the garda station, where the man is being detained.

The three men who were arrested, one aged in his 30s, and the other two in their 40s, were remanded on public order charges following a special sitting of Athlone District Court yesterday morning after an altercation took place. Following their court appearance, they were arrested as part of the investigation into the alleged sexual assaults, which happened at around 4pm on Saturday.

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(Image: Niall Carson/PA)

No previous convictions for sexual assault

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said today there is no truth in reports that any of the men detained had a previous conviction for sexual offences.

Speaking to Pat Kenny on Newstalk this morning, he said “There is no issue of an individual being interviewed who was previously convicted of sexual offence”.

Minister Shatter said there were limits to what he could say regarding the case, but that he felt it was important he “set the record straight on that issue” given concerns within the community.

Gardaí told TheJournal.ie that no charges have been brought against the man who is still being detained, but a decision will have to be made by this evening.

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(Image: Niall Carson/PA)

Additional reporting, Daragh Brophy

Previously updated at 10.15am

Read: Three men held over alleged sexual assault of children in Athlone>

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