Pope Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Bishop of Derry Seamus Hegarty, who has been forced to step down from his post due to ill health.
The announcement was made in Rome after the senior cleric wrote to the Pope stating he was no longer fit to carry out his diocesan duties.
The 71-year-old was diagnosed with an irreversible and progressive illness and has had to scale back his duties. In a statement, he said he entrusted his health "to the prayers of the people of the diocese."
A spokesman for the Catholic Church confirmed: "His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Most Reverend Seamus Hegarty, Bishop of Derry. This announcement was made today in Rome."
Born in 1940 and ordained a priest in 1966, he was in charge of the Raphoe Diocese in Donegal from March 1982 before taking up his post in Derry in November 1994.