Belfast Telegraph

Payout deal priest not allowed to say Mass

A priest from Northern Ireland involved in a controversial out of court settlement after allegations of a sex assault has been banned from saying Mass where he now lives in France, it has been learned.

Father Andrew McCloskey paid out £19,000 in 2005 to a man who claimed he had been sexually assaulted by him when he was 18.

A second teenager also made allegations against the priest, though never took legal action.

And there was uproar in the cross-border Diocese of Derry when then-Bishop Seamus Hegarty admitted that the priest was later given a job within the church counselling sex abuse victims.

Fr McCloskey stood down from his role with the Hope Alive group and from his position as curate in Dungiven, Co Londonderry, when news of the out-of-court deal emerged in January 2005.

But there was anger among priests in the diocese - which covers parts of Derry, Donegal, Tyrone and Antrim - when they discovered Fr McCloskey was living in the south of France.

He has been working as a teacher of English at adult classes in Nice but is banned from active ministry.

A Derry Diocese spokesman insisted church and civil authorities in France were aware of the allegations against Fr McCloskey.

The spokesman said: "Some years ago, the Diocese of Derry contacted the diocesan authorities in Nice, where Fr McCloskey resides, making them aware of Fr McCloskey's residence in the diocese, the fact that he is out of ministry and of the circumstances of his leave of absence.

"The diocesan authorities in Nice are aware that he has no permission to exercise ministry, which includes the celebration of public Mass. The civil authorities in Northern Ireland are aware of Fr McCloskey and have, within their responsibility, the provision for international liaison where residence is outside the UK."

The priest told parishioners in January 2005 that he was taking a leave of absence saying he had "made a mistake for which I have paid very dearly".

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