A Garda investigation into an alleged sexual attack on three teenage girls in Courtown, Co Wexford is being frustrated by the consumption of large amounts of alcohol by potential witnesses on the night.
A group of young males from Kilkenny are the chief suspects in the alleged sexual attack which occurred just after midnight on Sunday in the Courtown Harbour area of the seaside town near Gorey.
Gardaí have spoken to some of the males’ families but have not made any arrests. There are concerns at least one of the suspects may have fled the jurisdiction to the UK.
Contrary to misinformation on certain social media accounts, there is nothing to suggest asylum seekers from a nearby emergency accommodation facility were involved in the incident.
Investigators have been reluctant to share descriptions of the alleged attackers due to their young age, sources said. A number, or perhaps all, of the suspects are underage.
Gardaí renewed an appeal for information about the incident on Thursday. Those with information, particularly anyone with dashcam footage, are asked to contact Gorey Garda station.
A large number of youths had gathered in the Courtown Harbour area around the time of the alleged attack and were consuming significant quantities of alcohol, sources said.
This is hampering the inquiry, with some potential eye-witnesses giving investigators muddled or incomplete accounts of the night.
The girls were being interviewed by specially trained gardaí on Wednesday. It is understood they were allegedly sexually assaulted and one of them was allegedly raped.
The girls are aged between 14 and 17. They are from west Dublin and were in the Co Wexford town on holiday.
Gardaí have obtained CCTV footage from the area and have visited at least one address in Kilkenny as part of their investigations.
The Irish Times understands that up to three or four males may have been present when the alleged attacks took place, although detectives have not yet established the precise roles played by each.
It is believed the girls informed their parents of the alleged attack who then contacted gardaí and reported the allegation.
An incident room had been established at Gorey Garda station and officers appealed for anyone with information to contact the station on 053-9430690 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800-666111.
Gardaí have appealed to anyone who was in the in the Burrow area of Courtown between 10pm on Saturday and 2am on Sunday who observed any suspicious behaviour to contact gardaí.
The area where the attack is alleged to have taken place was immediately sealed off while a forensic and technical examination was conducted. Specialist gardaí spent a number of hours combing the scene for evidence, and the scene has now reopened.
The girls have been examined and treated at a Sexual Assault Treatment Unit where further forensic evidence was gathered.
Courtown is an area that is popular with tourists and young people due to its nearby beaches. Along with nearby Riverchapel, the village has had issues with antisocial behaviour and underage drinking in recent years.
Gardaí are continuing to investigate a fire at a holiday park in the village which destroyed nine unoccupied caravans three weeks ago. A similar fire occurred in May of 2018.
A new community CCTV scheme is planned for the area in the coming months to address the rise in crime and antisocial behaviour.