The Church of Ireland has failed to elect a Bishop of Meath and Kildare.

The decision on the appointment has been passed to the church’s hierarchy instead.

The announcement was made following over five hours’ deliberations by a reconvened 64 member electoral college.

The electoral college met a Dublin's Christchurch Cathedral today to elect a successor to the Primate, Archbishop Richard Clarke, who transferred from Meath and Kildare to Armagh last year.

It was summoned following last month's unprecedented withdrawal of a successful candidate, Archdeacon Leslie Stevenson.

Archdeacon Leslie Stevenson, the cleric the electors had chosen as Bishop in January, had withdrawn days before his scheduled consecration this month.

The shock move was prompted by publicity over an affair he had with a woman fourteen years ago which has forced him to resign as Rector of Donaghadee, Co Down.

After over five hours of deliberations and at least five ballots, the electors failed to give the required two-thirds majority to any candidate.

The college is divided almost evenly between clergy and laity and, to win, a candidate must win the support of two-thirds of each category.