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Catholic priest cleared of abuse allegations returns to duties

Published 21/12/2015

A police inquiry into Fr John McManus began after a complaint to the church's safeguarding office
A police inquiry into Fr John McManus began after a complaint to the church's safeguarding office

A Catholic priest cleared of abuse allegations more than three years ago has returned to his duties in Northern Ireland.

Fr John McManus stepped aside from his Co Down parish in March 2011 during a police investigation.

The following year, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) concluded he had no case to answer.

Celebrating mass alongside Bishop Noel Treanor from the Diocese of Down and Connor on Sunday, the well known priest said he was "delighted" to be back.

Fr McManus told the congregation at Ballygalget: "I am both delighted and privileged to join with you for the celebration of your Sunday mass.

"The last time I celebrated Mass in this Church of Saint Patrick was on the March 9, 2011, Ash Wednesday when I informed you that I had requested administrative leave from ministry for the duration of the necessary inquiries.

"Since then, I have been very much at home living here among you. I wish to thank especially my family, my neighbours and friends of all faiths and none for their support and kindness shown to me during this time."

The police investigation was sparked by a complaint to the church's safeguarding office.

Fr McManus was a former press spokesman for the diocese and a member of its committee that oversees the safeguarding of children.

In a statement, Bishop Treanor said he had co-operated fully with investigators and there were no safeguarding issues barring his return to ministry.

The bishop said: "I wish Fr John many happy years of fruitful ministry after the past four-and-a-half years during which time he has been supported by his family, by friends and by you, his parishioners."

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