Gardaí are investigating an allegation that an elderly woman was raped at a hospital in Dublin on Christmas Eve.

A male hospital worker was arrested yesterday and has since been released without charge.

A file on the case is to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The woman, who is in her 80s, did not report the sexual assault until some time after it is alleged to have happened.

When the woman's family and the hospital authorities became aware of the incident gardaí were alerted.

The suspect, who is in his 40s and is a foreign national, is not part of the medical staff.

He has been suspended from duty and the hospital is co-operating fully with the garda investigation.

Garda headquarters confirmed today that gardaí were investigating an alleged sexual assault and that a suspect was detained under Section Four of the Criminal Justice Act, which allows for him to be questioned for up to 24 hours

Gardaí say that owing to the nature of the investigation no further information is available at this time.