Northern Ireland

Priest quits over handling of abuse case

A stone cross
Image caption The priest was responsible for child protection in the Diocese of Cloyne

A priest responsible for child protection in the Diocese of Cloyne in County Cork has resigned after controversy surrounding his handling of a child sex abuse allegation against a priest.

Fr Bill Bermingham said his handling of the case had "caused further distress to the complainant".

He said it was vital "any person" occupying his role within the Catholic Church should have the "complete confidence of victims of child sexual abuse".

In a statement released on Saturday, Fr Bermingham added that his "handling of this particular case has, despite my best intentions, served to undermine that confidence".

A report in the Irish Examiner had claimed Fr Bermingham informally took a statement from a woman alleging abuse and passed it on to the priest concerned before he was interviewed by Irish police.

Bishop

On Friday night, Fr Bermingham said he received the allegation in May 2009 and immediately reported it to the police and the Health Service Executive in the Irish Republic in accordance with Catholic Church guidelines.

He said the guidelines required him to inform the accused person of the identity of the complainant and details of the allegation.

Another person has been appointed to Fr Bermingham's position on a temporary basis.

Earlier this year, the Pope accepted the resignation of the former Bishop of Cloyne John Magee after he was found to have mishandled allegations of clerical sex abuse in the diocese.

Bishop Magee had stepped aside in March 2009 after an independent report found his diocese had put children at risk of harm.

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