The Government plans to order a nationwide investigation into child sex abuse in the Irish Catholic Church.
That decision that may lead to a direct confrontation with some Church authorities, who want any inquiries to be limited in scope. So far, the Government has dealt mainly with crimes which may have taken place over a period of decades in the Dublin Archdiocese.
There is also speculation that Northern Ireland dioceses could be included — the first time this expanded scope has been raised.
A meeting took place last week between officials from the office of the Minister for Children, Barry Andrews, and the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church, which is an independent body set up by the Church in 2006 to monitor compliance with child-protection laws.
It was made clear at the meeting that both Government and Church authorities are in discussions about a wide-ranging investigation into the activities of alleged pedophile priests in all dioceses.
A spokesman for Andrews’ office confirmed the meeting, and said "the dialogue is ongoing."
The main issues to be sorted out are the time frame of any national investigation, the legal framework under which the the investigation would operate, and the key issue: How much cooperation will the Irish Catholic Church give?
Government sources say they are determined to move ahead as quickly as possible with the inquiry.
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