Jeremy Corbyn has called for a standing commission on child abuse.
He said the official inquiry into the "trauma" of victims could become permanent and vowed there should be no cover-ups for prominent people.
The Labour leadership contender was asked about the investigation into ex-prime minister Sir Edward Heath and other police probes during a debate in West Belfast.
"There has to be a standing commission to investigate this, the trauma that victims of childhood sexual abuse go through and carry it with them for the rest of their lives.
"If there were cover-ups because the alleged perpetrator was a very prominent person at that time the law should apply to everyone, whoever they are, absolutely equally.
"We should be very careful that just calling someone an abuser is not the same thing as proven evidence, the proven evidence has to be before any final decision is made."
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA), led by Justice Lowell Goddard, has said it will consider allegations against Sir Edward "should the facts justify it".
Mr Corbyn said the Commission was doing important work. He said it should have powers to conduct investigations in the Channel Islands and elsewhere outside the UK.
He added: "It could turn into a permanent commission."
Calls were repeated for the Inquiry to investigate alleged wrongdoing at Kincora Boys' Home in East Belfast, which it is claimed involved senior members of the British establishment.
In the past the Labour leadership frontrunner has supported a united Ireland and the hall in strongly republican West Belfast was packed to hear him speak.
Mr Corbyn faced questions on welfare reform, trade union legislation and equality for gay people, in front of a largely appreciative crowd of up to 700 people.
He received a round of applause when he supported rights for Palestinians as well as his anti-austerity message, against "social cleansing" in London through welfare cuts and his claim Labour did not win the last election as it did not provide a clear cut alternative to the Tories.
However he said he did not favour Labour fighting elections in Northern Ireland.
Present in the crowd were Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, former Sinn Fein publicity director Danny Morrison and other prominent republicans as well as unionist representatives.
Mr Corbyn blamed Labour's poor show in the last election on offering "austerity light", when the party should have been opposing it.
He has said he disagrees with acting leader Harriet Harman on welfare reform, accusing her of being too similar to the Conservatives.
Mr Corbyn urged the Prime Minister to enter new talks with the Northern Ireland parties over welfare reform. He told the BBC there was "quite a lot of common ground" among the parties.
The candidate called for a ban on police water cannon, which is barred in England and Wales, in Northern Ireland as well as plastic bullets which have killed some in West Belfast.
He was joined on stage at St Louise's College by comedian Nuala McKeever, Sinn Fein Dublin councillor Eoin O Broin and East Belfast DUP MP Gavin Robinson.
Mr Robinson said a loyal order parade in a contested part of North Belfast would only take five minutes and said there was no need for an Irish Language Act.
He paid tribute to DUP leader Peter Robinson and his predecessor Naomi Long for their campaigning on sexual assaults at Kincora and promised to continue to raise his voice about the abuse.