Fr. Michael Mernagh, an Augustinian priest based in Dublin, undertook a march from Cobh, Co. Cork to Dublin as a "walk of atonement" in sympathy for the victims of clerical child sexual abuse. Fr. Mernagh, 70, made this public gesture following the publication of a report into child abuse in the Cork diocese of Cloyne. According to the report by the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children (NBSC), measures taken by Bishop of Cloyne Dr. John Magee fell far short of protecting children from clerical abuse. In one case it was revealed that the gardai (Irish police) were not told the identity of an offending priest until six months after a complaint was made. In another case the diocese was shown to give only minimal information about an alleged abuser. Prior to starting his long march, Fr. Mernagh told RTf he met with Bishop Magee. The priest said that he felt the bishop should resign for failing to deal with the abuse issue. Bishop Magee has intimated he will not be resigning although he takes "full responsibility" for "errors" made in dealing appropriately with child abuse cases within his diocese. During a Mass service on Christmas Eve in Cobh Cathedral, the bishop apologized to victims and said he would ensure that such abuse would not occur again. Mary Flaherty, national director of Children at Risk in Ireland (CARI), suggested "it would be better if he did step aside" because the bishop failed to implement guidelines set up to ensure the protection of children. Cork East Labour TD Sean Sherlock added his voice to calls for Bishop Magee to resign. "If he has apologized, does that imply some guilt on their part and does that mean that justice will prevail and the victims of abuse will get redress?" he asked.
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