Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin has criticised the Government for the delay of an inquiry into how a paedophile was allowed to operate for so long.

Victims of paedophile sports coach Bill Kenneally are increasingly concerned at the delay in setting up the proposed inquiry into how their case was handled by State agencies and the Catholic Church.

They want to meet the Taoiseach to discuss what they believe are very pressing matters and are renewing pressure on the Department of Justice to begin the Commission of Investigation, which the Department announced last May.

But Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said today that an inquiry cannot start until all other legal matters have concluded, a view victims and their supporters disagree with.

Mr Howlin said the matters for the commission are of the gravest importance for the victims and for the country. 

He said that a commission can and should proceed, adding that he and the victims were told by the previous minister, Frances Fitzgerald, that a commission could begin its work in parallel with ongoing criminal investigations after consultation with gardaí.

Minister Flanagan emphasised this evening there is no attempt to stall the Commission of Investigation. 

The Department said that even if a commission were to be established now, its work would be seriously delayed to allow for the completion of outstanding investigations and prosecutions. The Minister said this would not be in the public interest, or in the best interest of those directly affected.

Meanwhile, a man who made a statement to gardaí in Waterford 12 months ago alleging he was abused by Kenneally has been contacted by the gardaí. 

The man's case was highlighted on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning and he was phoned by senior gardaí after the programme concluded, having not being contacted by them at all in the past year.

Five abuse survivors - Colin Power, Barry Murphy, Paul Walsh, Kevin Keating and Jason Clancy - waived their right to anonymity previously and an appeal for information on Facebook was made by victims just before Christmas, which has now been viewed almost 140,000 times.

67-year-old Kenneally is an accountant and former national basketball coach from Waterford city.

He was sentenced to 14 years in prison in February 2016 after pleading guilty to ten sample counts of indecently assaulting ten boys between 1984 and 1987.

His appeal against the severity of that sentence is due to take place later this month.

Victims claim the State failed to protect them and that the gardaí, the South Eastern Health Board, members of the Catholic Church and politicians knew about Kenneally being an abuser.

Last April, following a long battle from the victims, the Government said it would establish the Commission of Inquiry into how the case was handled.

However, a stay was put on the investigation since then and there is no plan on when it can begin.

Victims believe the longer the delay, the less chance they have of getting at the truth and that at least four people have died in past year who they say could have been very important witnesses at any inquiry.

The legal team for the victims, represented by Darragh Mackin, have rejected the Department of Justice's view, saying there are no new cases before the courts and there could be no prejudicial effect on the appeal by Kenneally against the severity of his sentence, as this cannot rehear any evidence relating to his guilt or innocence in respect of the offences. 

They also say that the risk is further minimised by the fact that most evidence to a Commission of Investigation would be heard in private.

Mr Howlin says a commission can operate in modules without interfering with on-going criminal investigations.

The Minister for Justice’s statement this afternoon also said that any victims coming forward with allegations of sexual abuse are entitled to have their claims fully investigated.

Victims have also met David Cullinane of Sinn Féin and their pleas to have their Commission of Investigation started will be brought to the Oireachtas Justice Committee.

They are seeking an urgent meeting with the Taoiseach.

Anyone affected by the issues in this report is advised that help is available from the Rape Crisis Network on 1800 77 88 88.