Page last updated at 12:59 GMT, Saturday, 7 March 2009

Bishop in Ireland 'stands aside'

Bishop John Magee
Bishop Magee was private secretary to three popes

An Irish bishop has agreed to "stand aside" to aid an investigation into the handling of allegations of clerical sex abuse in his County Cork diocese.

Newry-born Bishop John Magee, 72, had faced a series of calls for his resignation since an independent report was published just before Christmas.

It found Cloyne Diocese had put children at risk of harm.

This was, the report said, due to an inability to respond appropriately to abuse allegations.

It was conducted by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSC), a body set up by, but independent of the Catholic Church.

This is an indication of the importance which the church gives to safeguarding children and caring for the needs of victims
Cardinal Seán Brady

Patsy McGarry from the Irish Times said it was "unlikely" Bishop Magee, who was private secretary to three popes, will have an active role within the church again.

"It is alleged he ignored church guidelines, state guidelines, and Vatican directives on the matter," he told BBC News.

"Bishop Magee is 72-years-old and would have had to retire in three years' time anyway."

Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel in Tipperary will take on the bishop's role and duties in the diocese with immediate effect.

In a statement, Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, said: "This is an indication of the importance which the church gives to safeguarding children and caring for the needs of victims."

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