The President of Patrick's Seminary in Maynooth has denied a report in the Irish Catholic newspaper that the seminary could be closed.

The newspaper reported that closure is being considered after the recent Apostolic Visitation by New York's Archbishop Dr Timothy M Dolan.

Monsignor Hugh Connolly said the reports are 'without foundation' and was disappointed that the newspaper did not publish the college's reply to the story.

He said: 'Media reports today about the possible closure of the seminary are without foundation.

'The media outlet leading with this incorrect story was sent a reply from us yesterday and its absence from the published copy is disappointing and damaging.'

Maynooth College has educated men for the priesthood for over 200 years.

The seminary had accepted in the region of 20 new entrants each year for the past three years.

Monsignor Connolly said visitation was 'a positive and affirming experience for the whole College community'.

Archbishop Dolan was asked by Pope Benedict to is report to him on all Irish seminaries in the wake of the clerical child sexual abuse scandals of the past two decades.

Maynooth's then President, Monsignor Miceál Ledwith, resigned in 1996 after settling a legal case with a former seminarian who claimed he had been abused by the cleric. He was subsequently defrocked.

Maynooth is governed by over a dozen of the country's bishops and they have been criticised by a former college Dean, Fr Gerry McGinnity, for punishing him after he raised concerns about Ledwith's behaviour with young people in the 1980's.