Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has reaffirmed his warning that there are still strong forces in the Catholic Church which would prefer that the truth about clerical child abuse did not emerge.

He has also stood by his statement that 'there are still worrying signs that despite solid regulations and child-protection norms … these were not being followed with the rigour required.’

And he rejected Irish Independent's report that his comments of last week were a ‘criticism of Pope Benedict’.

Dr Martin's statement rejects as untrue a newspaper's claim that he had backed off his claims of eight days ago that reforms to improve the Church's child protection practices here were being resisted by powerful forces inside the organisation.

He highlighted yesterday's comment by Ian Elliot, the head of the church-funded independent child protection watchdog, that ‘clearly a cultural correction is required in the Irish Church to deal with the problem of abuse.’

Dr Martin stressed that norms - or rules - required wholehearted and robust endorsement and claimed these words were echoed by Mr Elliot in yesterday's Annual Report of the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church.

He said while the board's CEO had recognised the significant progress made, he had also noted that ‘this has proved to be demanding for some within the Church who have had difficulty in changing their attitudes to fully embrace a single safeguarding approach’.

Dr Martin dismissed as ‘a gratuitous misinterpretation made without any grounds’ the Irish Independent's report that his comments were a ‘criticism of Pope Benedict’.

He said they were in fact a reaffirmation of the urgent appeal of Pope Benedict, in his letter to Irish Catholics, on the need ‘to address the problem of abuse that has occurred within the Irish Catholic community and to do so with courage and determination’.

The Archbishop reasserted that anything less than a totally robust response would not be enough and that there was no room for slippage.

Abuse survivors critical of Brady

Survivors of clerical child abuse have criticised Cardinal Seán Brady's statement of intent to stay on as leader of the Irish Catholic Church.

Abuse survivor Marie Collins told RTÉ's The Frontline programme she was not surprised by the Cardinal's decision.

She said he had expressed no regret to her for having sworn two of Fr Brendan Smyth's teenage victims to secrecy in 1975 after recording their statements in a church inquiry.

Ms Collins criticised the Primate's failure to mention, in last night's statement, the swearing to secrecy of Smyth's two victims.

She accused Dr Brady of having allowed Smyth to continue abusing for 18 years.

John Kelly of the Survivors of Child Abuse group criticised the Cardinal's decision not to resign, saying it was that of ‘a decent man who had not done the decent thing’.

They were responding to Dr Brady's announcement that he was asking Pope Benedict for an assistant bishop to help him engage with survivors and work for Church renewal.

The statement follows two-months of 'reflection and consultation' about his future following media revelations that he had kept the gardaí in the dark about Smyth's abuse of the two teenage victims.

In March, he had explained that he was not the designated person to go to gardaí, but he also admitted to feeling ashamed that he had not always upheld the values that he professes and believes in.

Dr Brady said that since his St Patrick's Day announcement that he would be reflecting on his position in light of the revelations, correspondence that he had received had been overwhelmingly supportive.

He added that asking for another bishop was the right thing to do and he was prepared to do it even if it caused great personal sacrifice.