As many as 12 people have been arrested in connection with a suspected pedophile ring in southwest Ireland, the Irish Independent reports.

On Monday afternoon, Gardaí (Irish police) are said to have arrested several people in connection with an ongoing investigation into alleged child sexual abuse in the south-west of Ireland.

The operation was launched throughout Munster and continued for several hours and the people involved were located, arrested, and held in various Garda stations.

“Gardaí have arrested a number of people in relation to an ongoing investigation,” said a Garda spokesperson.

“They are currently detained in Garda stations in the Southern and Western Regions of An Garda Siochana.”

A source told the Irish Mirror: "This is the latest phase in a lengthy investigation into a pedophile ring which has been operating in Munster.

"The people arrested are all known to each other and come from the same community - they are thought to be either related or connected through friendships.

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"It is suspected that this is an ongoing series of crimes with a number of victims - this phase deals with a number of people."

"This is a shocking case with a large group of senior, experienced investigators, involved in the case,” the source added.

"Detectives are shocked by the scope of the enquiry and is a hugely complicated case.

"Specialist interview teams have been involved in questioning the accused and there have been child interviewers also involved in gathering statements from victims.

H/T: Irish Independent