The child protection watchdog within the Irish Catholic Church has asked for a meeting with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin over his claims that strong forces were still trying to hide the truth about the clerical sex abuse.
Ian Elliot, chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC), said that Martin should share any evidence behind such an assertion.
"We don’t have evidence of widespread non-compliance," he said. "In fact, we have increasing evidence of commitment to change. But if [non-compliance] were to occur, that would be addressed," he said.
Elliot also said the church needed to focus on the victims rather than self-protection.
"This has led to a reliance on a defensive legal response when complaints emerge, rather than a focus on safeguarding concerns and the elimination of risk to other vulnerable young people."
Elliot was speaking as the board released its annual report, which revealed 200 new allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse by priests and other religious were reported in the past year.
The report's authors said that adults were still coming forward to recount childhood suffering. The report also showed that three dioceses, Clonfert, Ossory and Killala, still have no trained child protection volunteers.
Abuse survivor Andrew Madden said the report showed that the State needed to take the lead and set a date for the referendum on children’s rights.
"I repeat my call for the Government to advance this work as a matter of urgency – its continued failure to do so to date is an absolute disgrace."