The United States is “violating the human rights in the most appalling manner” of two Irish children whose father was murdered by not allowing his family from Ireland access to the children, according to former Irish government minister Willie O’Dea.

Social services in North Carolina has the children of Jason Corbett (39) from Limerick, who was killed in a domestic violence incident in the town of Wallburg on August 3. His second wife is the main suspect.

The children – Jack (10) and Sarah (8) – are being kept away from family who flew to US to get them as per their father’s will, which stated in the event of his death he wanted his children brought back to Ireland. His first wife and the children's mother, Mags, died following a severe asthma attack.

Corbett’s sister and her husband, Tracey and David Lynch, who were appointed legal guardians, have been unable to meet the children since arriving in North Carolina intending to bring the children home and along with Jason's body. His second wife, Molly Martens (32) is still being questioned regarding his death.

“We are holding up okay. The support from home, especially from people in Limerick, has been a real help,” Lynch told the Irish Times.

“We still haven’t had any contact with the children. We just have to wait until Friday’s custody hearing.”

There is widespread anger in Ireland that the children have been kept from their lawful guardians and relatives.

Corbett’s body is being returned to Ireland with the assistance of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, set up by the parents of a young man from County Down who was killed in a hit-and-run in New York two years ago.

Irishman's body to be flown home from US

— RTÉ News (@rtenews) August 11, 2015
Former Minister O’Dea, still a local member of parliament, has been outspoken on the case.

“It is incumbent on somebody in the Government, particularly the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I would say, to talk to their American counterparts directly rather than let the consular section deal with it exclusively, and try to bring forward that [custody] case from Friday.

“And, secondly, to point out to the Americans that it’s alright to be talking about human rights in the Ukraine and elsewhere, but Irish citizens in the United States have human rights too, and in this case it seems to be that the human rights of these two children are being violated in a most appalling manner.

“Somebody at ministerial level should intervene to point out that this is a humanitarian matter and to point out the tragedy that has befallen this family, and to point out the psychological impact on these children who want to join their father’s family and come back to Ireland.

“They have no interest, as I understand it, to remain in the United States.”

The family and friends of the Corbett family have set up a Facebook page entitled “Bring Jack and Sarah Home.”