The design that emerged from an international competition, which received 32 submissions, was granted permission by Dublin City Council.
But it was subsequently refused by An Bord Pleanála in late 2013 after appeals were lodged.
Department officials had consulted with Dublin City Council, which had identified several potential sites for the memorial by early last year.
However, with the previous design being specific to the Garden of Remembrance site, that memorial could not be recreated elsewhere.
The department has now told the Irish Examiner that it is instead looking at the idea of establishing an exhibition rather than a memorial: “The department is engaging with potential interested parties with a view to seeing whether a permanent exhibition in a public institution might provide an appropriate way for the nation to remember the abuse that was suffered in redress institutions, and to acknowledge the experience of survivors which is part of our national history.”
A spokesperson said that possibility is just an option being considered at the moment.
However, he clarified that, should the exhibition go ahead, it would replace the memorial proposal rather than both projects proceeding.
A provision of €500,000 is still included for the memorial in the department’s 2017 capital budget.
Around €190,000 was spent on the memorial project up to late 2013 when the Garden of Remembrance project was turned down for planning, according to the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General published yesterday on the costs of the child abuse inquiry and redress.
Three of the five other memorial ideas shortlisted from the 2011 design competition had proposed to use the same site behind the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square as the one refused planning permission.