Bishop John McAreavey, who was at the centre of a controversy for officiating at a paedophile priest's funeral 16 years ago, has resigned as the Co Down Bishop of Dromore.

In a statement released by his solicitors Arthur J Downey, the bishop said his resignation is to take "immediate effect".

In the two-line statement, Dr McAreavey said: "Following media reports which have disturbed and upset many people in the Diocese and further afield, I have decided to resign with immediate effect.

"I shall make further comment in due course."

Last month, he met parents from a Co Down primary school, who along with families from three other schools, said they did not want him to officiate at their children's confirmation because he said requiem mass for Fr Malachy Finnegan, a paedophile and former president at St Colman's College Newry.

Even before parents voiced their concerns, Bishop McAreavey admitted he had made "an error of judgment" by officiating at the funeral of the paedophile teacher, whose actions he described as "abhorrent, inexcusable and indefensible".

Dr McAreavey, who has also spoken to a victim of Finnegan, said that his decision to say the mass "was the wrong one".

Dr McAreavey was appointed to lead the Dromore diocese in 1999. Fr Finegan died in 2002.