Lawyers acting for six Waterford men abused by a sports coach in the 1980s have said they will take the Government to the High Court if a promised Commission of Inquiry into their case does not begin immediately.

Bill Kenneally is currently serving a 14 year sentence after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting the then teenage boys in Waterford in the mid-1980s.

Last April, the Government announced it was going to set up a Commission of Inquiry in the handling of the case by state agencies, including the gardai and other figures.

They appointed retired judge Barry Hickson to lead the inquiry but put a stay on it commencing pending an appeal by Kenneally against the severity of his sentence and garda investigations into new complaints.

Lawyers for the victims say the Department of Justice is wrong to say that the inquiry cannot begin now.

Darragh Mackin, who is representing the victims, has written to Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, stating that Kenneally is appealing only against the severity of the sentence so no evidence will be reheard.

On the second point, Mr Mackin says there are no live prosecutions and that it is imperative the inquiry begins.

He has told the Minister they are issuing pre-action proceedings, indicating they are intending to take judicial review proceedings in the High Court against the Department of Justice if nothing is done.

In a statement, the Department of Justice said: " … it should be noted that following careful consideration of received from the Attorney General, the Government, in a decision taken on 30th May, 2017, agreed that in light of the ongoing criminal investigations, it was not possible to establish a Commission of Investigation at that time.

"It was also agreed that the question of establishing a Commission would be kept under ongoing legal review and that it is intended to establish a Commission, under the Chairmanship of the Hon Barry Hickson, (retired judge of the Circuit Court) when the outstanding issues, including the ongoing criminal investigations and Mr. Kenneally's appeal, are satisfactorily resolved."

"As a result, the Commission of Investigation has not been formally established, the Terms of Reference have not been drafted, nor has Judge Hickson commenced any work as it would be inappropriate to do so at this juncture."