A BROTHER of John Magee has said the former Bishop of Cloyne is an "easy target" for blame following the damning report into sex abuse in the diocese.
Bishop Magee, who was singled out in the report for failing to follow church rules on reporting clerical sex abuse, has been missing since it was published, and is believed to be overseas.
His older brother -- who refused to give his first name yesterday -- is acting as caretaker of the parochial house in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, where Bishop Magee has lived until recently.
"He's not here at the moment but if he was I'm sure he would talk to you, but the man simply is not here at the moment," he told the Irish Independent.
"I'm not really sure if he's in the country or out of the country at the moment. I'm just the caretaker here and I couldn't tell you where he is.''
However, he said that he felt Bishop Magee is being unfairly treated in the fallout from the report.
"On the day that this thing came out it was 'bang', immediately the man to blame for all this here was him," he added.
"From the very first day the way that I look at this here was that he was a good target. Because he was a person with the kind of high profile that he had, because of his closeness to the Popes, he was an easy target."
Mr Magee confirmed he had been in contact with Bishop Magee by phone.
"He rings me now and again, but he rings me from a mobile phone, I couldn't tell you where he does be," he said.
Mr Magee said his brother sounded in good spirits.
"He sounds very good. I say to him, 'How are ye boy?' And he says, 'I'm grand'. He seems to be okay from what I can tell.
"I can't tell very much. You could if you worked for the 'News of the World' I suppose."
His brother also confirmed that Bishop Magee has not permanently moved out of the house in Mitchelstown and will return at some point.
"If you just stand back and give the fella a bit of time. If you were in the position he was in, from what I'm reading in the newspapers, you wouldn't like it either," he said.
Mr Magee, who admitted he was "closer to 90 than 80" in age, said that things had been tough for the wider family.
"It is hard on the family but I'm not ashamed to say I'm his older brother. We have had quite an amount of support and I haven't had anybody locally criticise him. There could be people out there but they don't come to me."
Mr Magee said that he had been having problems at the parochial house, with local youths harassing him.
"There's youngsters come up here, they come back and forward and they do things to annoy you," he said.