The Bishop of Elphin, Christopher Jones, has branded the media’s treatment of the Catholic Church as "unfair and unjust."

He made the comments at a press conference in Maynooth, County Kildare, where he was attending a meeting of the Bishops’ Liaison Committee for Child Protection.

Jones said that the sex abuse "cover up" was not just confined to the church and added that society and local communities played a part in the cover up for centuries.

“Could I just say with all this emphasis on cover-up, the cover-up has gone on for centuries, not just in the church… It’s going on today in families, in communities, in societies. Why are you singling out the church?

"I object to the way the church is being isolated and the focus on the church. We know we’ve made mistakes. Of course we’ve made mistakes but why this huge isolation of the church and this huge focus on cover-up in the church when it has been going on for centuries?

“It’s only now, for the first time ever, that victims have been given a voice to publicly express their pain and their suffering. And, before that, for centuries, no one spoke.

"I think you are unfair and unjust to the church,” said Jones.

Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has invited all parish representatives in his diocese to a reparation service at Galway Cathedral on Palm Sunday, March 28th.

Drennan has asked each parish representative to place a sprig of palm on the altar, "to express the penitential mood of the day". Speaking to the Irish Catholic newspaper Drennan said they would ask for God's "forgiveness for crimes of physical, sexual and emotional abuse that brought shame on all of us."