Leaders' Questions is normally the scene of contentious interchanges. Today I wish to raise an issue not in any contentious or combative way but rather in a spirit of solidarity with the people of Athlone and, in particular, the two young girls from that town who suffered a horrific indecent assault some days ago. This incident has caused deep anger, shock and disbelief, not just across the immediate community but across the country. Many of the parents who gathered in unison in the aftermath of this shocking and horrific event felt the need to highlight their anger and concern and send a clear message to those who would do this sort of thing that there is no sanctuary to be had and such actions will be condemned by all right-thinking people.
The thoughts of all of us are with the two children, their families and the wider community. It is very important in situations such as this that a comprehensive package of support be applied to the situation. The manner in which it happened, in broad daylight when children were at play, strikes at the very heart of what is a core principle of our society, that our children are allowed to play in safety and security. That has been violated in a horrific way. Gardaí have acted swiftly and we must have faith in them and the providers of all the other services to come through on this. Can the Taoiseach assure us and the wider community that this comprehensive package of support will be made available on a sustained long-term basis to the members of the emergency services who have had to intervene, to the wider community in the shape of teachers and other school staff who will have to deal with the aftermath of this issue, to the HSE and to the social workers who are involved, as well as for the development of a broad, community-wide education programme to deal with the aftermath of this horrific event?