The Government has ordered an independent review of the management of what it calls "a serious and complex case of alleged child abuse and neglect involving a number of children".

An official statement says a three-person panel of experts, chaired by Dr Geoffrey Shannon, will conduct the examination.

Dr Shannon, who is the Government's Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, will be joined by Suzanne Phelan, a Child Welfare Consultant, and retired Garda Chief Superintendent Pádraig Kennedy who has been nominated by Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan.

In the statement, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone said that with the agreement of Mr Flanagan, she intends to commission the review.

It is understood the initiative was discussed at yesterday's Cabinet meeting.

Ms Zappone's statement recalls that there have been "media reports and public comments about a complex and unusual case of severe neglect and alleged child sexual abuse".

She observes that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency and gardaí have been closely involved while other State bodies have also had some involvement.

She says she and Mr Flanagan have been "briefed extensively on this case".

"We have agreed that, while there is no evidence of any serious mishandling of the case by either Tusla or An Garda Síochána, due to the complexity of the current case it would be good practice to arrange for a short, focused independent 'Serious Incident' review of the actions to date," she continued.

She said the review will examine the management of the case "including the inter-agency activity and co-operation which primarily involved Tusla and An Garda Síochána".

Ms Zappone says the review's primary purpose is to ensure that any learning which may arise is captured at the earliest possible opportunity and that it informs future work.

She underlines that she has been assured that "all the children identified as victims" of the abuse in question have been taken into care.

She cautions that no specific details of the case can be discussed and notes that it is illegal under the 1991 Child Care Act to publish information that could lead to the identification of a child in care.

Both ministers say it will be important to ensure that the non-statutory review does not risk prejudicing the on-going investigation and criminal prosecution.

"With this in mind… Dr Shannon will assist with drafting the terms of reference. The Terms of Reference will be subject to the receipt of advice by the Attorney General's Office before they are finalised," Minister Zappone's statement adds.

She says it is intended that the review will be completed "as soon as possible after terms of reference have been agreed".

According to the statement, the Review Team will submit a report to both Ministers concerned and a further update will be provided to the Cabinet at that stage.

Finally, it says publication of the review will be considered "in due course and will be subject to legal advice".