Around fifty people have attended a vigil in Wexford town this evening to show their support for Dr Brendan Comiskey, who announced his resignation as Bishop of Ferns today. A letter of sympathy was handed into Dr Comiskey via his security guard at the bishop's palace.

Dr Comiskey is understood to have left his residence this afternoon. He is due to fly to Rome later this week to meet the Pope and formalise his resignation. He told journalists in Wexford this morning that he had tendered his resignation to the Pope last Thursday.

Dr Comiskey had come under growing pressure since the broadcasting of a television documentary last month about his handling of the case of the paedophile priest, Father Sean Fortune.

The Minister for Health, Micheal Martin, is to meet Father Fortune's victims to decide whether to launch an independent enquiry.

One of Father Fortune's victims, Colm O'Gorman, called on the Minister for Health to institute an enquiry into the matter. He said that Dr Comiskey should not be scapegoated in any enquiry.

The Archbishop of Armagh said that the Church would meet its responsibilities. Sean Brady said that the Church wanted to do its part in healing the hurt.

Earlier, Archbishop Brady and Cardinal Desmond Connell, President and Vice President of the Irish Episcopal Conference, said they were greatly saddened by the circumstances surrounding the resignation.

They said they hoped the memory of all the good Bishop Comiskey had done in the service of his people and clergy would be a source of consolation to him in the future. They also condemned the sexual abuse of children by priests as an especially grave and repugnant evil. They said it was a scandal which evoked entirely justified outrage.

For almost a fortnight, Dr Comiskey refused to comment on the BBC documentary. In his statement today, he said he had done his best to deal with the affair, but clearly that was not good enough. He said he had found Father Fortune “virtually impossible to deal with”.