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All dioceses may face probe by State

THE Government may order an examination into how the Catholic Church dealt with sexual abuse allegations in dioceses across the country.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said yesterday that such a widespread inquiry "cannot be ruled out" after the Cloyne Report publication last week.

"We don't want to be carrying out unnecessary investigations, but we have to protect the children," Mrs Fitzgerald told the Irish Independent yesterday.

"You cannot say that what was happening in Cloyne is definitely not happening in other dioceses," she added.

Information from two hotlines established to provide anonymous help to victims, and from an HSE audit to be completed in September, will be used to decide which dioceses -- if any -- should be investigated.

Mrs Fitzgerald called on the church to commit to publishing internal audits into six of its dioceses -- three of which have already been completed.

Legislation, making it mandatory for priests to report allegations of sexual assault, is being drawn up. Mrs Fitzgerald said that under the proposed new law, any organisation that dealt with children would be required to report such abuse.

Speaking on RTE radio, she also responded to the claim by One in Four that 90pc of cases being referred to them by the HSE were being ignored.

"Of course it's not acceptable, we've made it absolutely clear, that historical cases of abuse have to be assessed to see if there is any current risk of abuse," she said.

Irish Independent