President Mary McAleese has declared that there is a "huge maelstrom of grief" in Ireland at the moment.

Speaking on Saturday at the 50th anniversary conference of Cori (Conference of Religious of Ireland) in Malahide, Co Dublin, McAleese said;

"The millstone of the Ryan and Murphy reports will be carried for a long time on the way ahead, just as the millstone of the massive fiscal mistakes will similarly have to be carried for some time to come into the future. There is a long road ahead to redemption on both accounts."

She continued, "I don't want you or our country to be defined by these failures, but by how we transcend them."

She said grief "has to be distilled into wiser, humbler action. This is the moment when we need people of faith to have faith in themselves and in our country's ability to dig deep, heal it's wounded and with their help, walk the way ahead together, to a better time and a better Ireland."

McAleese then referred to the Northern Ireland peace process and said that 20 years ago "it would have been utterly, absolutely inconceivable that Sinn Fein and the DUP would be in government together."

However some "batty people" dreamt of reconciliation during the Troubles.

"The peace process is not perfect. It is not always an object of great beauty," she said.

However Britain and Ireland are now "light years away from the past. Change is possible. Even that the impossible is possible." 

The President said Cori represented an "unequaled and unrivaled investment in Ireland, her education, health and social welfare and the physical, pastoral and spiritual enrichment of her people."

She added that those "who lived good lives and who invested generously and unselfishly in the lives of others - in other words - the vast majority of Cori's members, have been heart scalded by the now clearly undocumented depravity of those who dishonored their vocation by abusing children and the denial and inaction which allowed that depravity to continue with virtual impunity. They are also heart scalded by the righteous rage of those who were abused."

McAleese said that Coris had pledged, "to do their best to put as much right as can be put right." She added that she was happy to see "that there is serious engagement on the level of reparations to be made."