Police called for a state inquiry into historical clerical child abuse in the North today and revealed a specialist detective team has been set up to investigate past crimes.
A senior PSNI officer said it would play its part to bring to justice those responsible but stressed there is a need for a wider response among statutory agencies to address the allegations.
Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said: “A cross departmental response on this issue is absolutely necessary.
“There are statutory responsibilities for agencies other than the police service – health and education sectors – and there are also island-wide implications in relation to the sharing of information.
“We strongly support the need for a cross-departmental inquiry. It would certainly be of significant benefit to us – I would suggest perhaps independently chaired at (Stormont) executive level.”
Mr Kerr was briefing members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s independent oversight body, the NI Policing Board, about the response to the abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church across Ireland.
The officer said a recent upsurge in historic complaints against clerics had prompted the PSNI to set up a specialised investigation team.
“In light of the number and nature of recent allegations we are setting up a dedicated investigations team under Serious Crime Branch,” he said.
The Northern Ireland Executive is considering whether to establish a public inquiry similar to those that have unearthed a litany of crimes in the Republic.
Stormont sources have indicated that ministers are likely to back calls for a state probe north of the border.