In September 1999, the unfair dismissal case against the former Bishop of Cloyne was dropped when the complainant, an administrator at the diocesan offices, dropped his action at the Employment Appeals Tribunal.
The diocese has refused to provide any details on the case or confirm the size of any settlement made.
Chaplain of St Raphael’s in Youghal, Fr Joseph McGuane, a priest who has long championed the need for greater transparency in the diocese, has revealed that he wrote to the Cloyne Diocesan Council of Priests in September last year urging them to “come clean”.
Fr McGuane warned the 18-member council that “the issue needs to be clarified, particularly in view of rumours that circulated at the time”. Eighteen individual letters were sent, and a copy was sent to the diocese’s apostolic administrator, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dermot Clifford. Fr McGuane never received a response from any party.
In November 2008, he wrote to Bishop Magee, asking when and where the complainant’s job had first been advertised.
“The priests and clerics of the diocese of Cloyne are on their knees after the publication of the Cloyne report,” he said. “Any further revelations will reduce us to dust. It is for that particular reason I want this cleared up.
“I asked the Diocesan Council if they had ever queried Bishop Magee around these media reports and if not, why not. I asked them to ascertain if money had been paid, and if so, how much and where the money came from? I also asked if there was a confidentiality clause. I asked them to reply as individuals or as a group and I heard nothing.
“This issue needs to be cleared up when Bishop Magee comes back into the public domain. Everything must be up on the table. It is our last chance. It will be the death knell of the Church if it emerges that settlements were kept secret. There must be no more drip, drip.”
A spokesman for the diocese said the Diocesan Council of Priests did not respond to the letter as the council had been disbanded following Bishop Magee’s resignation over his handling of child protection in the diocese.
“The letters were marked confidential and were sent to individuals. They did not respond as they did not believe that, with the council’s disbandment, they were entitled to. As for any letter to Bishop Magee, we cannot respond on his behalf.”