A 30-year-old man has appeared at a sitting of the district court in Longford, charged with the rape of two young girls in Athlone, Co Westmeath last Saturday afternoon.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested last night and charged with two counts of rape against each of the children.

The man, who was wearing a black jacket, jeans and white runners, was brought before the court this morning.

Sergeant Yvette McCormack said she arrested him at 18.54pm last night at Barrack Street, Athlone, and he was charged with two counts of rape against each of the children.

The court was told he made no reply when the charges were made against him.

Supt Noreen McBrien asked Judge Seamus Hughes to remand the man in custody to appear again at Harristown District Court in Co Roscommon on Friday.

Supt McBrien asked the judge to make an order on pre-trial publicity.

Judge Hughes said he wanted to remind the media of its obligations under Section 2, 7 and 8 of the Sexual Offences Act.

He said journalists and broadcasters should be familiar with the legal entitlement to anonymity of the complainants and the accused.

Judge Hughes said he understood the heightened emotion of the public over the last couple of days, but said he was confident the public will now do everything to co-operate with the legal process.

A solicitor for the man said he also wanted to raise concerns about publicity surrounding the case by the print media and other organisations.

Before the case concluded, the solicitor asked the court to order a psychiatric report on the accused.

He also asked Judge Hughes to make an order that the man be kept on suicide watch.

The man will appear in Harristown District Court in Castlerea at 10am on Friday.

The girls, aged six and nine, were taken to hospital after the alleged incident on Saturday.

They are expected to be interviewed by gardaí in the coming days.