A well-known Cork priest has launched a bitter attack on former Cloyne bishop John Magee after Magee had issued a public apology about his actions in covering up  sex abuse on children in his diocese.

Father Michael Mernagh, a priest in his diocese, came to prominence by walking from his parish to Dublin in atonement for victims of child abuse.

In an unprecedented attack on a fellow member of the clergy he described the Bishop's apology as “hollow” and told him he should no longer stay in his diocese.

 Father Mernagh, an Augustinian, told Bishop Magee he should "remove himself completely from the good people of North Cork - go back to a monastery of your order and continue to do that penance."

He stated : "What you need to do is to go out in front of the Cathedral in Cobh and there in a purple robe of penance, prostrate yourself for some time, for some days, in fasting and in prayer, and be open to hear the criticism and whatever the people and priests and others would have to say".



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Maeve Lewis The Director of One in Four a leading child abuse prevention lobby group  also said Magee  was guilty of  "distorted thinking" and "not taking responsibility"

Lewis, said that it appeared the bishop "didn't get the gravity of his failures".

Finally breaking his silence, the former Bishop John Magee had said he apologizes “unreservedly” to victims of child sex abuse in the former dioceses of Cloyne. 

In a statement, he said he would be “very willing” to meet victims and their families privately is they wished.

“I also apologized to victims of abuse in this statement and I unreservedly apologize to these victims again today. I publicly apologized to victims of abuse in the Diocese, in Cobh Cathedral, on Christmas Eve 2008,” the bishop said.

Published in July, the report into clerical sex abuse found that Bishop Magee misled the minister for children when he informed them guidelines for handling abuse accusations were being complied with.

The report also found he that told the Health Service Executive that abuse allegations were being reported to the Irish police.

“Given my position of responsibility, I am particularly saddened when I read the accounts of the complainants describing the effects of the abuse, knowing that I contributed to their distress.”

The former bishop said he had met some of the victims and listened to their stories.

“The people, who were so terribly abused by priests, found the courage to come forward to talk to me, or to my delegate, Msgr [Denis] O’Callaghan who was representing me, and in many cases, we failed them.

“I am sorry that this happened and I unreservedly apologise to all those who suffered additional hurt because of the flawed implementation of the Church procedures, for which I take full responsibility.”

“I also want to say that I feel there is nothing I can say now, which will ease the pain and distress for victims.

“I fully understand why they are angry - I let them down, by not fully implementing the guidelines which were available to me.

“I deeply, deeply regret not ensuring that the guidelines, which were my responsibility to implement, were not complied with and I ask for forgiveness for the way in which I have carried out this critically important aspect of my work.”