I have already spoken publicly of the anger and revulsion with which I read the Commission's report.

There is no doubt that these and other emotions are shared by all members of this House. 

But anger and revulsion do not beget justice.

These past few days have seen an understandable drive for some gesture, some word, some act to express our collective disgust, 

And our feelings of collective failure, that Irish children, our neighbours, friends, families suffered silently amongst us, as we went about our lives.

But through all this we must remain focused and clear-headed.

The painful fact is that there is no possible single act of purgation, with which we can turn the clock back and wholly erase these failures or heal the pain.

But what is possible.
And what is meaningful.
Is that we ensure that the guilty are punished.

That our criminal justice system acts without fear or favour.
That those evil men who raped and assaulted children in this State - face justice meted out by this State and by its people.
Justice which is blind to position, power or clerical rank.
Justice which knows only innocence or guilt as defined by the Irish people.
And as set down by their Oireachtas in the laws of Ireland - a Republic.

I can assure the House today that it is clear from my contacts with the Garda Commissioner that neither he nor his Force will rest until everything possible is done to make sure the perpetrators of this awful abuse pay for their crimes.

Those who have not yet been brought to justice for these crimes should spend every day of the rest of their lives realising that there is no hiding place for them and that justice - even where it may have been delayed - will not be denied.

As the report makes clear, a number of the perpetrators have already been brought to justice, proceedings are pending against others and a number of investigations are ongoing. 

Indeed, it was because a number of cases are the subject of proceedings that it was necessary for me, in accordance with the provision of the Commission of Investigations Act, 2004 to make application to the High Court for directions as to the publication of parts of the report. The House will be aware that Mr. Justice Gilligan in the circumstances ordered certain redactions. 

When the report was published I said that there must be people out there who hold some memory, some fact which can help bring these people before justice. I appealed for those people to come forward.

Of course none of us would blame people for wanting to put the dreadful brutality they suffered in their childhoods behind them. Yet the report is a testament of the courage of many victims of abuse who did come forward and, however painful it was for them, told their stories to the Commission.

So while I realise what I am asking is not easy, I emphasise that anyone who comes forward will have what they say investigated fully and they will be treated with great sensitivity.

Any new information can make a difference. I am told by the Gardaí that the special contact line which they set up after the Ryan report was published has resulted in about 60 cases being actively investigated. Many of those cases will result in files being forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

It may be helpful for members to place on the record of the House the special contact arrangements which the Gardaí have made following the publication last Thursday of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission's report. 

The special telephone line is 01- 666 3066. 

Or people can write to the Offices of the Assistant Commissioner, National Support Services, Harcourt Square, Dublin 2 - marking their envelopes Dublin Archdiocese Report.

Beyond the individual perpetrators of sexual abuse, there is the wider question of criminal liability for the way abuse allegations were handled.

The Garda Commissioner has appointed Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahoney to examine specifically the findings of the report relating to the handling of complaints and investigations by both Church and State authorities. The Assistant Commissioner has been tasked with carrying out such investigations and inquiries as he deems appropriate and to make a report to the Commissioner with his recommendations. The Garda Commissioner will then consult the Director of Public Prosecutions as to what issues arise in the context of criminal liability.

It would be a disservice to the victims to pretend that pursuing criminal liability in relation to the handling of the cases of abuse is straightforward. At times some things are profoundly morally wrong but not of themselves criminal acts. The law now - particularly the offence of endangerment in the Criminal Justice Act, 2006 - is stronger but cannot be applied retrospectively. And the standards of proof involved in a criminal trial are, quite rightly, high. Indeed, many of the difficulties involved are identified in the Commission's report. 

But what the victims are entitled to expect is that the issue of criminal liability on the part of anyone in authority - either church or state - in the handling of these cases be pursued fully and rigorously. That is exactly what is going to happen. Assistant Commissioner O'Mahoney and his team will have the full investigative powers of the Garda Síochána in carrying out this examination. And they will pursue their inquiries, without fear or favour, wherever they lead.

The Commission's report finds that, in the past, in some cases An Garda Síochána did not appropriately pursue allegations which were made to them. My profound regret that that should have been the case is shared by the Garda Commissioner who has apologised for those failings -as has the Government without reservation or equivocation.

In the half dozen or so cases where Garda handling of cases is criticised in the report, a common theme is that deference to the Church brought about a situation where individual Gardaí treated members of the church as if they were beyond the reach of the law. 

Perhaps in those times Gardaí were not unique in showing such deference. But it is not now - and never has been acceptable - that institutions behave or are treated as being above the law of the State. Again I stress, this is a republic - the people are sovereign - and no institution, no agency, no church can be immune from that fact.

In fairness to members of An Garda Síochána it is only right to point out that the Commission makes no criticism of current arrangement for investigating such allegations. Indeed, reflecting the comments of victims, they are quite complimentary about those arrangements. And they point out that even in former times a number of Gardaí pursued these cases without fear or favour.

For my part I pay tribute to the professionalism and sensitivity of individual members of An Garda Síochána which the positive things the Commission has to say reflect.

There are, however, no grounds for complacency. Both the Garda Commissioner and I accept that in this constantly evolving area of law enforcement it is necessary to continuously review our approaches to ensure that the highest standards and best international practice is maintained. It is against that background, after consulting with the Commissioner, that I have asked the Garda Inspectorate, to review arrangements for Garda handling of complaints of sexual abuse against children.

I don't believe any one for one moment doubts the commitment of the current Garda Commissioner and his Force to pursue allegations of this kind with determination and professionalism. But on the more general point, it is worth noting that the accountability arrangements for An Garda Síochána have been transformed and modernised by the Garda Síochána Act, 2005 from the arrangements which were in place during the period covered by the report.

I pay tribute to the Commission for the valuable work they have done. I welcome the fact that there was agreement on all sides to discuss the report here today.

There are hard and bitter lessons to be learned from this report. As legislators and public representatives we cannot flinch from the heart of darkness at its core. 

I know all sides of this House are determined to do all we can to consign those evil days to a past which has to be accounted for.

A past for which those involved must take responsibility,
And face the consequences of their actions.
And which, above all, must never be repeated.