Belfast Telegraph

Priest steps aside as police probe complaint

A Catholic priest has stepped aside after allegations surrounding the safeguarding of children were made against him.

Fr John McManus from Portaferry told parishioners in Ballygalget, Co Down, he was taking administrative leave last night. He denies claims made against him on January 27 to the Down and Connor diocesan child safeguarding office.

Police are investigating the allegations, the Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor said last night: “As I am speaking to you tonight, Father McManus is informing the parishioners of Ballygalget that he has now decided to step aside from his ministry as a priest and from the position of chancellor of this diocese during the necessary inquiries.”

On the evening of January 27 the diocesan child safeguarding office received the allegations against Father McManus. The next day, those allegations were reported to police and social services. That same day the bishop imposed restrictions on the priest's ministry and on his role as chancellor of the diocese. Those restrictions were discussed with and approved by the police, the social services and with the diocesan advisory panel as meeting child safeguarding concerns.

The bishop added: “He denies all the allegations. Like all other persons in his position, Father McManus too |enjoys the presumption of innocence.”

Fr McManus said: “The police have been investigating these allegations and I have co-operated fully with their inquiry, at all times denying these |allegations.”

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