George Gibney outside his Florida home in 2007

The mayor of the Florida town where alleged child rapist George Gibney is living has expressed confidence that police there are "on top of the matter" when it comes to concerns about the potential threat he poses to children.

This is despite the fact that worried locals have begun a neighbourhood-watch patrol which starts and ends outside his apartment in the gated Enterprise Cove complex where he lives in Orange City.

The protest began after leaflets about the former Olympic swimming coach's background were circulated to residents.

It comes as justice minister Dermot Ahern declined to intervene to seek his extradition to Ireland, with his spokesman saying it was a matter for the gardaí and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

A Florida-based child protection organisation, One Child International, last week wrote to Ahern asking him to investigate Gibney, who is using the name Jon Gibney, and urging his extradition to Ireland.

It has also alleged that Gibney is in breach of the US's strict immigration laws and would have had to lie about his past to get his green card.

"The minister will be replying to the letter in due course. He will be pointing out that he does not have a role in these types of matters," Ahern's spokesman said. "Under our criminal justice system, the minister provides legislation and policy direction... but he has absolutely no function when it comes to seeking extradition orders." A DPP spokeswoman declined to comment.

Responding to a series of questions about Gibney, Mayor Harley Strickland of Orange City said he had forwarded these "concerns" to the city's police chief, Frank Ross.

"He has assured me that they are on top of the matter," he said. He declined to comment further, although it is understood that a detective has been assigned to investigate any issues which might arise out of Gibney's presence in Orange City.

Gibney was the national swimming coach from 1984 to 1991. He was charged with 17 counts of sexual abuse involving young swimmers. He left Ireland in 1994 after he successfully argued in the High Court that the alleged incidents had occurred too long ago to allow him to defend himself.

One of his alleged teenage victims claimed he raped her in a locked Florida hotel room during a 1991 swimming trip.

Three years ago, the Sunday Tribune hired a private investigator to track down Gibney to the Enterprise Cove complex, where he continues to live in a rented apartment less than 100 yards from a community swimming pool.

One apartment-rating website contains a warning about his past for people thinking of moving there.