The Minister for Foreign Affairs is willing to intervene to help the family of Limerick man Jason Corbett, whose children are at the centre or a custody battle in North Carolina, a senior Cabinet minister has said.

However Jan O'Sullivan says it may not be the most appropriate course of action as there are legal issues which the consulate is currently dealing with.

Irish citizens Jack, 10, and his eight-year-old sister Sarah Corbett were taken into the care of US social services following the death of their father last weekend.

The 39-year-old's body has been repatriated and is due home tomorrow, while a custody hearing regarding the two children is due to take place in North Carolina on Friday.

Mr Corbett, originally from Janesboro in Limerick, was found dead at his home in Wallburg, North Carolina on 3 August following what the authorities described as a domestic disturbance.

The father of two moved to the southern US state with his young children four years ago, following the death of their mother Mags, and later married local woman Molly Martins, 32, who has been questioned by the police following his death.

Mr Corbett's sister Tracey Lynch and her husband David who were appointed legal guardians to the Corbett children are among the family members who have travelled to the US in an attempt to gain custody of the children.

None of the Corbett family have been allowed any contact with the children since they arrived in North Carolina over a week ago, and a custody hearing will take place on Friday.

Mr Corbett's remains are due to arrive into Dublin airport at 9.30am tomorrow morning, however the family insist he will not be buried until his children are back in Ireland.

There have been repeated calls on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to intervene in the case.

Fianna Fáil Deputy Wilie O'Dea has claimed the children's human rights have been violated in the "most appalling manner".

Speaking in Limerick today, Minister O'Sullivan insisted that Charlie Flanagan is willing to intervene in the process if necessary.

However, she said that Minister Flanagan personally intervening may not be "the most effective thing to do".

"I know the Minister is willing to intervene but there are processes there.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs has been extremely good in situations like this where these kinds of terrible situations happen to Irish citizens and has a lot of expertise in that area and I know that there is an absolute willingness to do everything that is possible to assist the family.

"I know the Minister wants to do do as much as he can and I would support that. I know that help has been offered through the consulate in the United States.

"This is an extraordinarily terrible time for the family and a very, very distressing situation not only to lose their family members but also the concern about the children, but I understand there is a legal process which is about to take place in the United States," she said.

"The consulate and the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Government is there to assist the family and wants to assist the family but I understand that this process is something that has to take place under US law but the assistance is there and will be provided in whatever way it can be."

Mr Corbett's body is to be returned home with the help of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, which was established by the parents of a young man from Co Down, who was killed in a hit-and-run in New York two years ago.

The Trust aims to help families whose loved ones have died in similarly tragic and unforeseen circumstances while abroad.

Meanwhile, a separate fund has been set up in Limerick to help Mr Corbett's family with travel expenses and legal costs which are expected to run into the tens of thousands of euro.

Anyone who wishes to donate to "Jason's Journey" can do so through a TSB Bank Account number: 11240513, Sort Code 990751.