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Bishop Eamonn Casey has passed away. Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Controversial bishop Eamonn Casey has died aged 89

He resigned as Bishop of Galway in 1992.

BISHOP EAMONN CASEY has died at the age of 89.

The former Bishop of Galway passed away peacefully early this afternoon, it has been confirmed.

He had been ill for some time and was admitted to a nursing home in 2011.

“Having been ill for some time, Bishop Eamonn Casey, Bishop Emeritus of Galway and Kilmacduagh, died peacefully early this afternoon at Carrigoran Nursing Home, Co Clare,” Irish Bishops’ Conference said in a statement this afternoon.

Casey was born in Co. Kerry on 24 April 1927 and was educated in Limerick and in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth

He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Limerick in 1951 and worked in two Limerick parishes before being appointed to the Irish Emigrant Chaplaincy Service in England.

His pioneering work for the provision of housing for Irish emigrants brought him recognition back home and he became one of Ireland’s most well-known religious figures from the 1960s onwards.

Casey became a social advocate on a range of causes and was an outspoken human rights advocate.

Casey was a prominent figure during the visit of Pope John Paul II and represented the Irish Catholic Church at the funeral of Oscar Romero in San Salvador.

Romero had been assassinated in 1980 after vocal criticism of the country’s right-wing government. Casey witnessed the riot and massacre at Romero’s funeral in which up to 60 people were killed.

The United States backed El Salvador’s government and this led to Casey boycotting the visit of US President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Casey gained further media attention when he was arrested for drink driving in London in 1986.

His honest reaction to this almost endeared him further to the Irish public, an attitude summed up in the Martin Egan song famously recorded by Christy Moore.

Casey is best-known, however, for the scandal that forced him resign as Bishop of Galway.

In 1992 it emerged he had fathered a child with an American woman, Annie Murphy, in 1974.

Murphy wrote a book titled Forbidden Fruit about their relationship and appeared on The Late Late Show for a famous interview with host Gay Byrne.

During the interview Byrne told Murphy that if her son Peter turned out to be half the man Casey was, he would be doing alright.

Peter has in the past spoken about not having a relationship with Casey.

After Casey resigned as Bishop of Galway he spent a number of years in South America as a missionary before he moved to the UK.

He returned to Ireland in 2006 but was not able to say Mass in public.

Read: Pressure mounts on Church to ‘pay up’ on sexual abuse redress as Taoiseach says ‘get on with it’ >

Read: Religious groups still owe €1.3 billion for institutional child abuse >

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