Minister for Children James Reilly has said officials from his department have started talks with the Department of Justice and Equality on removing the defence of "reasonable chastisement".

Speaking on RTÉ's News At One, he said progress has been made since 2009 and most people now use other ways of disciplining their children. 

He said child safety is everybody's responsibility and he would like to see the options available for removing the defence of "reasonable chastisement", before legislation is considered for a ban on parents smacking children. 

It comes as the European Committee of Social Rights found Ireland violated a European charter by not banning all corporal punishment, including parents smacking their children at home.

Ireland is one of the few countries in Europe that has not yet banned corporal punishment in the home. 

The committee said the corporal punishment of children in Ireland is not prohibited in a sufficiently clear, binding and precise manner under domestic legislation or case-law.

The ruling follows a formal complaint in February 2013 from the UK-based Association for the Protection of All Children.

In a statement, the Council of Europe said: "Violence against children, including corporal punishment, is a major abuse of their human rights, and equal protection under the law must be guaranteed to them."

"The Council of Europe has been working to see corporal punishment of children outlawed in each of its 47 member countries, and positive parenting programmes set up by governments to encourage parents to make the family violence-free."

The European Social Charter is a legally-binding social and economic counterpart to the European Convention on Human Rights. 

Mr Reilly has said he has instructed his officials to prepare regulations providing for the explicit prohibition of corporal punishment for children in foster or state care.

He said while such punishment in the home is not specifically outlawed, legislation such as the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act and the Children Act deal with cruelty to children.

The Ombudsman for Children welcomed the ruling by the European Committee of Social Rights.

Dr Niall Muldoon said he was not surprised by the finding.

He said he had recommended in his recently published report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that "the State should put in place a comprehensive legal prohibition of the use of corporal punishment in all settings".