The Catholic Church has said that paedophile priest, the late Malachy Finegan, ministered for three years in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin.

Responding to a query from RTÉ News, a spokesman for the diocese said the disgraced cleric, who is known by his own northern Diocese of Dromore to have sexually abused minors, worked as a curate in Rosenallis, Co Laois from 1953 to 1956.

The spokesman added that the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin had "no knowledge or record of any complaint or allegation concerning Fr Finegan".

Earlier this week the former President Mary McAleese called on the civil authorities in Northern Ireland to launch a public inquiry into the Diocese of Dromore's response to complaints about Finegan's abuse which, she said, stretch back as far as the early 1970s.

On 1 March Dr John McAreavey announced his resignation as Bishop of Dromore in the wake of revelations by some of Finegan's victims that, in 2000, he had concelebrated mass in public with Finegan in spite of the church's ban on the paedophile ministering in public.

Since then, the Newry Reporter has reproduced a photograph it published in 2000 which included the Bishop, Finegan and five altar servers at a welcoming ceremony for a new parish priest.

Days after the survivors' revelations, Dr McAreavey apologised for celebrating Finegan's funeral mass in 2002. 

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Meanwhile, the Department of Health in Northern Ireland has announced the resignation for health reasons of Norah Gibbons from the chair of its Inter-Departmental Working Group.

The IDWG is tasked with progressing investigations into abuse in mother-and-baby homes and Magdalene Laundries as well as reviewing historical clerical child abuse.

In a statement, a department spokeswoman said Ms Gibbon's departure was for health reasons and that the department extended best wishes to her and praised the dedication and commitment she had shown since becoming the group's first chair in February last year.

Ms Gibbons has extensive experience as a social worker in the UK and Ireland and is the current chair of the Child and Family Agency, Tusla.

A spokesperson for the agency told RTÉ News that her position with the agency is unaffected by the resignation from her role in Northern Ireland.

A representative of abuse survivors reacted with dismay to Ms Gibbon's resignation.

Eunan Duffy, who was born in the Marian Vale mother-and-baby home in Newry before being taken from his mother against her will and placed for adoption, has been calling for a public inquiry into allegations that residents of the homes and laundries were abused.

"I cannot believe that, after a year of waiting to meet with government officials who are making key decisions about our lives, the chair has resigned and the meeting has been cancelled," Mr Duffy said in a statement.

He added: "We are now calling for a fresh approach, one where the victims are listened to."

Women who were forced into institutions in Belfast and Newry after becoming pregnant have claimed that until the 1980s, newborn babies were being forcibly taken from their mothers and given up for adoption by nuns. 

But because they were adults they did not fall into Sir Anthony Hart's public inquiry into child abuse in institutions, which was published 14 months ago.