The priest who provided a character reference for a convicted sex offender in Kerry has withdrawn from his parish work, following a meeting with the Bishop of Kerry, Dr Bill Murphy.

Fr Seán Sheehy was criticised by the Kerry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre after he described 35-year old Danny Foley in court as having the height of respect for women.

Fr Sheehy also queued to embrace and shake hands with Mr Foley minutes before the sentencing hearing in which he was sentenced to five years in jail for sexually assaulted a 22-year-old woman.

Yesterday Bishop Murphy said he wished to dissociate himself from the statements and actions of Fr Sheehy.

Bishop Murphy and Fr Sheehy met this morning and a statement from the Diocese of Kerry says Fr Sheehy offered to withdraw from his work in the parish of Castlegregory ‘in view of recent events’.

The statement says Dr Murphy accepted the offer and it will take effect immediately.

A statement from the Bishop of Kerry read ‘This morning Fr Seán Sheehy and Bishop Bill Murphy met. In view of recent events Fr. Seán Sheehy offered to withdraw from his work in the parish of Castlegregory.

The Bishop of Kerry accepted his offer which takes effect from today, Friday 18 December.

Fr Seán Sheehy, having retired from an American Diocese, was substituting for the Parish Priest of Castlegregory.