The Taoiseach has confirmed that an inquiry will be set up to examine allegations of abuse and cover up at Spiritan-run schools including Blackrock College.

Micheál Martin said "some form of inquiry would have to be established" and the Government would engage with victims to hear their views on the best approach.

He said the Minister for Education is examining the issue and will work on a victim-led process.

Asked about how any probe might handle the expanding number of schools and orders facing allegations, Mr Martin said lessons would have to be learned from previous inquiries.

He said a module-based approach might be the most effective and timely.

Earlier this week, independent experts were appointed to engage with victims and survivors of historical abuse at schools and institutions run by the Spiritan congregation, formerly the Holy Ghost Fathers.

Survivors have been urged to come forward to tell their story and gardaí are appealing for anyone who wishes to report a crime relating to Spiritan schools and the Spritan order to contact them.

A documentary broadcast on RTÉ Radio One last week related details of abuse against two brothers at Blackrock College during the 1970s and 1980s.

Since its broadcast, more people have made allegations against members of the Spiritan Order.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said he is in awe of the courage of the survivors of abuse at Spiritan-run schools.

He said: "I just want to acknowledge the bravery and the extraordinary dignity of those who suffered such appalling and evil abuse."

Speaking at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis, he said the Government appreciates the need for a response, as what he termed "these brave victims recount in public the abuse they suffered".

Asked if he had concerns about the effectiveness and cost of an inquiry, the minister said: "We're also aware of the experiences ... the limitations ... also the progress that has been made with other forms of inquiry in the past and the Government has to consider this matter very seriously."

He added: "At this point all we can do is indicate 'consideration' because we're very, very mindful of the hurt and the pain that these victims have already suffered, including the need to engage with them. And I know the Department of Education and the Attorney General are giving consideration now to Government on this matter."

Form of inquiry 'important'

A former special rapporteur on child protection has said the form any inquiry is a very important part of the discussion.

Speaking on RTÉ's Saturday with Katie Hannon, Professor Conor O'Mahony said it can be tricky to strike the right balance.

He said while inquiries need to be independent, there is a balance to be struck around how much power you give an inquiry and how long running and legalistic they become as a result.

"The downside of those inquiries, which is that they become very legalistic, they can run for a very, very long time, and they haven't always generated satisfactory outcomes at the end of all of that," he said.

Professor O'Mahony said a lighter touch model means that the work can be completed more quickly, but that it does limit the amount of power the inquiry can have in terms with respect to the findings it can make and evidence it can secure.

Additional reporting Paul Cunningham


For the purpose of reporting to An Garda Síochána, the following options are available: By emailing GNPSB_SCMU@garda.ie; By phoning the Sexual Crime Management Unit on 01-6663430 or 01-6663435; By phoning the 24/7 confidential and free Garda Child Sexual Abuse Reporting Line on 1800 555 222.