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Ex-bishop blamed over child abuse

A former senior Irish bishop deliberately misled authorities and failed to report clerical abuse allegations as recently as three years ago, a report has said.

John Magee, a Vatican aide to three Popes, has been blamed for ignoring complaints against priests in the Diocese of Cloyne in Co Cork between 1996 and 2009 and failing to follow official protection rules.

He gave his second-in-command Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan, who admits he was more concerned with the plight of abusive priests than victims, a free hand to defy an edict to report all accusations.

Both Bishop Magee and the Monsignor, the vicar general in Cloyne, refused to co-operate with a Garda inquiry into abuse in 2006.

The inquiry into Cloyne - the fourth damning examination of clerical abuse and cover-ups of the Church in Ireland - found the greatest flaw in the diocese was repeated failure to report all complaints. It found nine allegations out of 15 were not passed on to the Garda.

"It is a remarkable fact that Bishop Magee took little or no active interest in the management of clerical child sexual abuse cases until 2008," it said.

When reports of failures in Cloyne first emerged in 2009 Cardinal Sean Brady, Ireland's most senior Catholic cleric, insisted Magee should not resign.

At the time the bishop was being investigated over inappropriate behaviour with an 18-year-old who was considering joining the priesthood. Bishop Magee hugged him, kissed him on the forehead and told him he had dreamt about him.

It was not regarded as abuse. The Bishop excused it as a warm Italian gesture picked up during his time in Rome.

The shocking 400-page report by Judge Yvonne Murphy, which follows her 2009 damning expose of the Dublin Archdiocese, found some of the Catholic hierarchy still resisted church policy 12 years after child protection rules were adopted in 1996.

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