Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey resigns

Bishop Dr John McAreavey at the centre of a controversy over his officiating at a paedophile priest's funeral has resigned as the Co Down Bishop of Dromore.

In a statement released by his solicitors Arthur J Downeylate on Thursday afternoon, the Bishop said his resignation is to take"immediate effect".

In the simple two-line statement released through the Banbridge solicitors, Dr McAreavey said: "Following media reports which have disturbed and upset many people in the Diocese and further afield I have decided to resign with immediate effect.

"I shall make further comment in due course."

Last month he met parents from a Co Down primary school, who along with families from three other schools, said they did not want him to officiate at their children's confirmation because of he said Requiem Mass for Fr Malachy Finnegan, a paedophile and former president at St Colman's College Newry.

Even before the parents of children from St Patrick's Primary School, Hilltown, Carrick Primary School, Burren and St Patrick's Mayobridge, voiced their concerns, Bishop McAreavey admitted he'd made "an error of judgement" by officiating at the 2002 funeral of the paedophile teacher whose actions he described as "abhorrent, inexcusable and indefensible".

The Bishop, who has also spoken to a victim of Fr Finnegan, said that his decision, made when he was a priest, to say the Mass "was the wrong one".

Allegations about the disgraced teacher and cleric were highlighted in a recent BBC Spotlight programme, although the first allegation against him came to light in 1994.

However, since the programme three other sex abuse victims are said to have come forward, joining 12 others who made similar claims up to 2016, which the Co Down diocese admitted it was aware of.