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Catholic priest investigated for child abuse to retire after review by church

By Staff Reporter

Published 23/01/2016

Investigation: Fr Symonds
Investigation: Fr Symonds

A Catholic priest who was investigated for what were called "safeguarding issues" is to retire following a church review.

Concerns about Fr Paul Symonds date back to the 1970s, when he worked in England.

The priest, who comes from England, was working as a curate in Ballymena when concerns about him were brought to the attention of the authorities.

In 2009, he was arrested in London by officers from the Metropolitan Police Force's child abuse investigation team.

Both Fr Symonds and the Catholic Church authorities cooperated fully with the police during their investigation.

The priest stood down from his ministry while the police investigation was ongoing.

However, the authorities decided that he would not be charged with any offences.

In 2011, after the police had completed their work, the Catholic Church began its own inquiry into Fr Symonds, a former Jesuit priest.

After five years, the investigation has finally reached the decision that Fr Symonds will live as a retired priest without any public ministry.

The decision came in a statement from the Diocese of Down and Connor, which was released last night.

Before his 2009 arrest, Fr Symonds had been awarded an OBE for his "tireless community work" across the Ballymena area and beyond.

Belfast Telegraph

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