The father of a man charged in connection with the fatal crash in Rome in which two Irish women died has said his son has made a serious mistake. 

Elizabeth Gubbins, 28, from Co Limerick, and Mary Clare Collins, 29, from Athy in Co Kildare, were killed in a hit and run accident yesterday.

They were hit at a pedestrian crossing in the Italian capital by a driver who was four and half times over the legal alcohol limit.

Their tragic deaths were reported on the front pages of all the main Italian newspapers today.

At a preliminary hearing, an Italian court charged Friedrich Vernarelli with manslaughter and failure to give assistance.

He is expected to face further charges when he case comes before courts again tomorrow.

However his treatment by Roman authorities is drawing huge criticism in Italian political and media circles - with a former mayor of Rome questioning the decision to keep him in custody for only five hours.

Today his father, Roberto Vernarelli, a retired senior police officer and a right wing candidate in the local elections, rejected such criticism.

He said his son had made a serious mistake and there were three families now mourning.

He asked the families of the two women for forgiveness.

Relatives of the women have arrived in Rome and are liaising with the Department of Foreign Affairs through the Irish embassy.