The Government has said it stands over its criticism of the Vatican's response to child sexual abuse claims, which it made following the publication of The Cloyne Report.

Following the report's publication the Vatican had been accused of interfering with and impeding investigations into the church's handling of abuse by priests.

In a response to the criticism and the Cloyne Report, which was requested by the Government, the Vatican rejected this and said it had never interfered in Irish civil law.

However in a statement acknowledging the Vatican's response the Government said it remained of the view that a 1997 letter from the then Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Storero, "provided a pretext for some members of the clergy to evade full cooperation with the Irish civil authorities in regard to the abuse of minors".

The Government also defended the Taoiseach Enda Kenny's comments, which were criticised by the Vatican in its response.

The statement said Mr Kenny's remarks "accurately reflect the public anger of the overwhelming majority of Irish people at the failure of the Catholic Church in Ireland and the Holy See to deal adequately with clerical child sexual abuse and those who committed such appalling acts."

It said it welcomed the Vatican's commitment to a "constructive dialogue and cooperation with the Government", and said it expected full cooperation from the Holy See, the Catholic Church in Ireland and all other relevant bodies in protecting children.

A spokesman for the Irish Bishops' Conference said: "In light of the Government's statement the Catholic Church restates its commitment to best practice in safeguarding children and to working with State authorities in achieving this.

"The focus should now be on the future"