A church watchdog has praised child protection measures in the Diocese of Kilmore as a "model of best practice" despite seven allegations of abuse against priests.
An audit by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) found that all seven claims of child abuse were reported to gardai and health board officials.
Three of the accused clergy had died, two were out of the ministry or had left the priesthood, one was convicted of abusing a minor and remains in prison and the final priest lived in the diocese but never worked there, and was also known to be the subject of an allegation arising from their past ministry, according to the NBSCCC.
Separately, the Church watchdog was highly critical of the diocesan response to notorious paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth, which it found was inadequate and displayed a disregard for the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable young people.
"Although this priest was removed from ministry initially, he was later returned some years later," NBSCCC officials said. "His priestly faculties continued to be renewed each year until he was again the focus of new allegations of abuse which eventually led to his conviction and imprisonment."
Cardinal Sean Brady earlier made an undisclosed settlement with one of Smyth's victims, who he swore to secrecy in 1975 following his investigation into their allegations of abuse. Smyth, who died in prison after he was convicted of child abuse, was a member of the Norbertine Order based in the diocese.
The NBSCCC said none of the issues raised could be attributed in any way to the present bishop, Leo O'Reilly, or anyone currently in a safeguarding role in the diocese.
Bishop O'Reilly said each allegation represented a person who has suffered.
He added: "My thoughts are very much with survivors of abuse. I once again apologise to them and express my anger and deep sadness that they experienced this betrayal by those who should have brought them Christ's love and compassion."
The audit said the overall view of current practice in child protection is of a consistently high standard and claimed the Diocese of Kilmore - which consists of 84 priests - may be viewed as "a model of best practice within the Church" in this critical area.