Tusla, the Child and Family Agency has responded to a report that several cases involving convicted sex offenders which required urgent attention were among a backlog of hundreds of unassessed files held in the agency's Portlaoise office.

The Irish Times report quotes an unpublished independent review as stating that local staff had flagged concerns about a growing backlog in the under-resourced office as far back as 2013.

But in a statement, Tusla told RTÉ News that issues were identified in the Midlands area two years later, in 2015, and that Tusla responded by putting in place "a rapid improvement plan, and service improvement plan" to address them.

Its says that "every single case referred to was identified, reviewed, prioritised, and allocated as appropriate (including retrospective unallocated cases). Thereafter, an adult retrospective team was also established."

Retrospective cases involve allegations by an adult that, he or she, had been abused in childhood.

Tusla quotes its own latest published data indicating that 25 retrospective cases remain open in the area and that all of them are "allocated to a social worker".

Noting that Tusla is part of a garda-led interagency group that monitors registered sex offenders, the statement adds that where there is an immediate risk to a child, Tusla provides an "immediate protective response".

The independent review, seen by The Irish Times, was completed in May 2016.

The newspaper recalls that in late April 2015, controversy erupted when it was revealed that Tusla had a significant backlog of unallocated cases in the Midlands.