Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, is hoping to bring the terms of reference of a promised inquiry into child abuse in the Dublin archdiocese before the cabinet in a matter of weeks.

Meanwhile the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, has repeated a pledge that his diocese will co-operate fully with any Government inquiries into allegations of child sexual abuse.

The Taoiseach has said he does not want to rule out the possibility of setting up further inquiries into clerical abuse.

Answering questions in the Dáil today, Bertie Ahern said a decision on such a move would come after the national audit of childcare standards in dioceses. 

Referring to the Ferns Report into clerical abuse, Mr Ahern said the Government had to be sure this could never happen again and that children would be safe from abuse.

He was responding to a question from the Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, during Leaders' Questions in the Dáil.

Mr Ahern said the Government would move quickly to implement the recommendations of the Murphy report into allegations of child sex abuse by priests in the Ferns diocese.

The report, which was published yesterday afternoon, revealed claims that at least 21 priests had sexually abused young boys and girls in parishes across Co Wexford during the past 40 years.

Tánaiste and Minister for Health Mary Harney has said she has an open mind about the issue of mandatory reporting of such abuse.

She said that while there was no existing mandatory reporting, she hoped that there was now a voluntary mandatory reporting culture.