On 13 February last I held a further meeting with three people representing those who have experienced sexual abuse. In common with all our previous contacts, the meeting was very useful and friendly. In my view, the most suitable and cost effective form of investigation in this instance is the model set out in the Commissions of Investigation Bill 2003, which I published and presented to the Dáil on 1 July 2003. I wrote recently to the Government Chief Whip seeking Dáil time as a matter of urgency for this particular Bill and she has assured me of her assistance in this matter. The Second Stage has been ordered for next week. I look forward to full co-operation from other parties in the House in passing the legislation and I welcome their recent statements reaffirming their support in progressing this vital legislation.
In parallel with work on the Bill, preliminary work has started on draft terms of reference for a commission to investigate the matter referred to in the Deputy's question, and I hope the proposed commission should be in a position to commence its work in September of this year, subject to the necessary legislation being in place.
As the Deputy is aware, a special Garda investigation team was set up in the national bureau of criminal investigation in October 2002 to investigate allegations of clerical child sex abuse. I sought an update from the Garda authorities in regard to this investigation and I am informed that a total of 14 files have been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions to date seeking directions as to criminal proceedings and a further 20 cases are currently being investigated — that is 34 in all. I am assured by the Garda authorities that all the allegations are being thoroughly investigated. Deputy Costello will appreciate that the matter of criminal prosecutions is a matter for the DPP.