The Catholic Church child protection watchdog has found that eight religious congregations often failed to contact directly people making child sexual abuse allegations against priests, brothers and nuns and their support for complainants continues to be inconsistent.

In audits of the congregations, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church also found the time frame for reporting allegations against congregation members to the civil authorities was variable up until 2009.

However, it has improved considerably since the introduction of new church standards.

This latest tranche of audits by the NBSCCC examines the responses of eight religious congregations to allegations of abuse against their members.

The congregations are the Presentation Sisters, the Vincentian Fathers, The Redemptorists, the Sisters of St Louis, the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, The Pallottines, The Mill Hill Fathers and the Missionaries of Africa, also known as the White Fathers.

It said allegations were made against a number of priests ministering abroad by children both in Ireland and in missionary countries.

It said the congregations' management of those situations varied, but is increasingly dealt with by returning the accused priests to a restricted environment in Ireland.

But the NBSCCC has said where allegations have been made abroad, it is rare for the complainant to do anything that might result in the trial of the accused.

It said that in these instances, church inquiries are critical in establishing if there is a semblance of truth to the allegation and in the management of risk.

The NBSCCC found that the timeframe for reporting allegations to the civil authorities was "unacceptable" in six cases involving the Redemptorists.

But the NBSCCC Chief Executive Teresa Devlin noted "considerable improvements", particularly in the Redemptorists, over the past decade.

In a statement, the Redemptorists apologised unreservedly to anyone hurt by a Redemptorist and said it was a shameful reality that some of its members abused young people who trusted them.

The Presentation Sisters in a statement said it regretted the pain and suffering of those who experienced abuse while under their care.

The audit into the Vincentian Fathers found that the order was fully compliant with the vast majority of the guidelines.

The review made eight recommendations for improvements to some written procedures and handling of allegations.

The board also found that much greater effort has been made since the 2009 publication of the Murphy Commission report to ensure full and prompt notification of the civil authorities.

In total, 42 allegations have been made against 13 Vincentian priests since 1975.

A total of 25 allegations are related to one priest Fr 'A', who was named in the Murphy Commission. 

In a statement, the Vincentians said they sincerely apologised to those abused by its members and acknowledged their deep suffering.

They said they would fully implement all the recommendations.

An audit into the Sisters of St Louis found some issues around the order's policy on child protection, including deficiencies in the complaint policy, internal management process and training.

The NBSCCC also said the order's safeguarding files were not well structured and did not contain all of the relevant safeguarding information.

It also found a delay of three months in reporting one allegation to gardaí and three cases where there was no record of passing on the information to gardaí.

The board acknowledged that the order was small and that the Sisters of St Louis had largely withdrawn from direct work with children in Ireland.

It made 11 recommendations for improvements.

In a statement, the Sisters of St Louis apologised to any child who may have suffered in its care.