An Irish priest has warned that he will not break the seal of confession despite his support for all efforts to end clerical child sex abuse.

Retired Catholic parish priest Fr Gearoid O Donnchu told the Irish Examiner that he would do anything to protect a child, but will not reveal anything heard in confession.

He spoke to the paper in light of the publication of the Children First Bill.

The new legislation makes it mandatory for the clergy and professionals to report situations where they believe children are at risk.

The priest admitted he is not sure whether his stance would break the law, but that if it did, he would still be prepared to observe the confessional seal.

He said, “If somebody comes to confession it is with the understanding that what they say is entirely privileged.

“The seal of confession takes precedence over everything, even my own safety. If somebody came and told me they had poisoned the wine I was going to use for Mass, I would still use it.”