Three former education ministers who were in office while some of the worst abuses documented in the Ryan commission report were taking place, cannot recall being informed by their officials of what was going on.
Among the serious cases of abuse between the start of the 1980s and the late '90s was that of convicted paedophile Donal Dunne, as well instances of physical and sexual abuse at St Joseph's school for deaf boys in Cabra.
The report, which gives Dunne the pseudonym John Brander, outlines how, despite attempts in 1982 by a former victim of Dunne's to highlight his concerns that he was teaching in Tullamore, department officials took no action. He went on to commit further abuse.
Gemma Hussey, who was education minister between late 1982 and 1986, noted that the report's "vague" reference to the "early 1980s" meant it was unclear if she was minister at the time.
"I must say, I never heard or saw or was spoken to ever about any kind of child abuse," she said. "If I had I hope I would have reacted extremely strongly. But I mean nothing ever came to me or across my desk... As I say, if I had, I hope I would have taken it very very seriously."
The report revealed that, in January 1990, a childcare worker said children in St Joseph's Industrial School in Kilkenny had told her they were "beaten quite severely", while a handwritten comment by a department inspector in April 1990 noted that corporal punishment was still being used in St Joseph's school in Clonmel, Co Tipperary. The report said the ban on corporal punishment was "ignored with impunity" there.
Mary O'Rourke, education minister between 1987 and 1991, said: "If anything of that nature ever came in front of me I would have acted immediately and promptly. As far as I knew the ban on corporal punishment was very faithfully observed. That was quite clear and to my mind it was always followed through."
Niamh Bhreathnach, education minister between 1993 and 1997, said she could not recall being informed of the issues. "I wasn't aware of it, but that is no excuse. I did my best, but if you were a pupil in Cabra then I would say, my best wasn't good enough."