A GOVERNMENT minister has slated as "unconscionable" the refusal of the former Bishop of Cloyne, Dr John Magee to answer fresh questions over the Cloyne Report into clerical child abuse in his diocese.
Innovation Minister Sean Sherlock (Lab), a long-time campaigner for the Cloyne abuse victims, said it was absolutely imperative that Dr Magee -- who is now back in Ireland -- give a full account of his stewardship of the Cork diocese to his parishioners.
He also said the former papal private secretary needs to urgently address specific issues raised by the Cloyne Report via an open press conference.
"I am astounded that he [the bishop] has said he has nothing to add to his original statement," Mr Sherlock said. "If he has any shred of human decency or moral fibre he will face the media and answer any and all questions put to him. It is the least that people deserve," he added.
Dr Magee, (74) who was at an undisclosed location last night, returned to the Parochial House in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, last week but left again after the media reported his presence. He has not been at the house for the past four days.
Archbishop Dr Dermot Clifford -- who has been running Cloyne since early 2009 -- last month said he understood Dr Magee was overseas. Dr Clifford added that it would have been "helpful" had Dr Magee been present for the publication of the Cloyne Report.
In a statement issued on his behalf last weekend, Dr Magee stressed that he has "nothing to add to the answers given at this time".
"I wish to point out that I answered all questions put to me by the Commission of Inquiry and my responses are on the public record as part of the published report." Dr Magee said that he has repeatedly apologised to the abuse victims - and took responsibility for the mistakes that were made by offering his resignation as bishop to Pope Benedict in March 2010.
However, there is mounting speculation that Dr Magee is now considering a second, more detailed response to the Cloyne Report in several weeks time.
"I am a retired bishop living at a house so kindly provided for my use in the parish of Mitchelstown," he added.
One parish source told the Herald that it is believed Dr Magee will remain in Mitchelstown for the foreseeable future.
However, some locals have expressed upset at the Cloyne Report revelations -- and a photograph of Dr Magee was removed earlier this month from the Church of Our Lady Conceived Without Sin.
Mitchelstown parish priest Fr Michael Fitzgerald said the provision of the house for Dr Magee represented Christian charity. The Parochial House has been looked after for Dr Magee by his brother, Hugh, in his extended absence.
The Newry-born cleric left the house several weeks before the Cloyne Report was published on July 13 -- though he has denied that he was in the US or Rome as widely reported.
Hugh Magee has pleaded with the media to treat the former bishop "with respect".
Mr Magee previously stressed that he believed his brother would answer all questions put to him in his own time.
The Cloyne Report was damning of Dr Magee and his former Vicar-General Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan over how they mishandled abuse complaints involving 19 clerics over a 12-year period.