The Bishop of Kerry, Dr. Bill. Murphy, has waded in on the controversial decision by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to remove a statue of Jesus Christ from over the main entrance to Killarney Community Hospital.

"The patients . . . are elderly and such symbols of their faith were a source of comfort and consolation to them," Murphy said.

"I believe this was a very retrograde step and one that will not benefit patients or staff."

The HSE’s decision to remove the statue, which was erected at the hospital in 1939, has caused much consternation in the town among local clergy and politicians.

The HSE says this is not a policy decision that will be repeated in other hospitals around the country,  but rather was an isolated incident where a statue that was taken down for renovation.

The HSE plans to put the statue in "a more suitable location on the site of the community hospital" in the coming week.