The Chief Executive of the Catholic Church's child protection body has claimed restrictions in the Data Protection Act are preventing the sharing of allegations of abuse in hundreds of cases.

Ian Elliott has called for the legislation to be amended to allow people directly involved in child protection in the church and other non-statutory bodies to be able to freely discuss abuse allegations, without fear of being prosecuted or sued.

Mr Elliott is head of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, and he was in Cork tonight where he praised volunteers of the Diocese of Cork and Ross for their work on child protection.

But in his speech he raised a problem with the Data Protection Act, which he claimed is preventing information on abuse being shared with people working directly in this area.

He said hundreds of cases are being affected by these restrictions, and he warned that there is a danger of the mistakes of the past being repeated.

Speaking tonight from Brussels, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald confirmed that difficulties with data protection legislation and the sharing of abuse allegations have been raised with her.

Minister Fitzgerald said she is in ongoing discussions with Ian Elliott regarding this and other matters.