The number of referrals to child protection services in Ireland increased by nearly a quarter last year, it was revealed.
The rise has put a huge strain on services already under pressure, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny added.
It follows a series of critical reports which chronicled decades of abuse by the religious orders.
The Taoiseach said: "Child abuse hasn't gone away. It doesn't go away.
"It is the lingering dark stain on the rich fabric of our humanity.
"It is an evil which persists."
Already increased awareness has resulted in a substantial increase in referrals to the child protection
services, up by nearly a quarter in 2012 alone.
The pilot of the national Audit of Neglect Cases published in June, showed greater recognition and
reporting of neglect, Mr Kenny told a meeting of experts in Dublin.
"It must be said that the increase in referrals has put a huge strain on services already under pressure,"
In Ireland, since the 1980's, nearly 20 major reports have been produced by investigations into abuse.
Mr Kenny stressed the international dimension of the problem and said it had not gone away.
"In every country where we've had this experience: we may have shone a light on dark corners of our
history; we may have exposed past evils; we may have sought to give solace to victims; and we may
even have said something like 'never again'.
"But for all that we still find ourselves facing the awful truth."