The National Board for Safeguarding Children has described the progress made by the Catholic Church over the past two years in implementing child protection guidelines as 'truly remarkable'.

Chief Executive Ian Elliott says while a great deal of work still remains to be done, there are 'champions for children' within the Church who deserve the highest praise.

In the wake of several damaging, high-profile clerical child sex abuse scandals, the Catholic Church established the National Board for Safeguarding Children in May 2006.

Although funded by the Church, it is an independent body and its chief executive was appointed in July 2007.

In a speech to be delivered this afternoon at a child protection conference in Cork, Mr Elliott offers his assessment of the progress made to date by the Church in implementing guidelines drawn up by his board.

Ian Elliott says the 'champions for children' are at all levels within the Church, with many in the hierarchy.

He points out that the Catholic Church in Ireland is made up of 184 constituent parts, each with its own head and with no one person living in Ireland responsible for the whole organisation.

Mr Elliott says the single most valuable development since the establishment of his board has been the agreement signed by each constituent body in the Church, not just to implement its child protection guidelines, but to allow themselves to be audited to ensure compliance.