An audit of child protection in the Catholic Diocese of Raphoe may be completed by the end of this year, according to the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.

Chief Executive of the Board Ian Elliot said he had discussed claims of cover-ups by the diocese with the former detective Martin Ridge and the local Bishop Dr Philip Boyce.

Mr Ridge said he encountered Church obstruction while investigating the convicted paedophile Father Eugene.

At the launch of his Board's annual report, Mr Elliot said it was launching an audit of all 186 constituent parts of the Catholic Church in Ireland, beginning with the dioceses, which would be examined in regional groups and on a phased basis.

Mr Elliot expressed confidence that Ireland's bishops would give the green light to an investigation of Raphoe at their meeting in Mid-June.

Assuming they do, he said the Board expected that before year's end Bishop Boyce will publish the Board's report without naming alleged abusers or complainants.

This was how the Cloyne report was made public in 2008. It resulted in Bishop John Magee's recent resignation.

Prior to today's announcement, the former Bishop of Raphoe, Dr Seamus Hegarty, expressed confidence that the diocese will be cleared of any cover-up.

The investigation of Raphoe will be part of the first phase of the Board's national review of child protection, which will include a number of other diocese.

Asked about Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's statement that there were worrying signs that regulations were not be followed rigorously enough, Mr Elliot asked the Archbishop to provide him with evidence of this.

He said he believed Dr Martin would be confident that the Board would investigate them.