An 81-year-old priest has been jailed for two years for sexually abusing a young girl in the early 1980s.

Paul McGennis pleaded guilty to eight sample charges of indecently assaulting the girl at two locations in Dublin between June 1980 and May 1984.

The abuse began when she was around 11 years old. McGennis has previous convictions for indecent assault.

Earlier this month, he apologised in the witness box at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for the stress and torture he had put his victim and her family through.

The court heard this morning that McGennis had made a very substantial contribution to a settlement that had been reached in civil proceedings taken by his victim in this case.

Judge Desmond Hogan said he was taking account of the fact that McGennis had pleaded guilty, even though he had initially denied the offences.

He said he was also taking account of McGennis's age and his bad health. The court heard he is in very bad health and will need a heart operation soon.

The judge said however, this was sexual abuse of a young girl who was in her formative years by someone who was in a great position of trust. He said additional trauma was placed on the girl by the fact that she felt she would not be believed if she told people what had happened.

He imposed a sentence of six years but suspended four years due to McGennis' guilty plea, his age, his health and the fact that he had contributed to the financial settlement.

The Judge ordered that McGennis enter into a bond to be of good behaviour and also abide by conditions laid down by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmaid Martin for the period of the suspended sentence.

McGennis is still a priest, but has been out of ministry since 1997.