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Derry priest named and shamed

Man at centre of scandal is living at an address in Derry diocese

By Donna Deeney

The cleric at the centre of child abuse allegations in Londonderry is still registered as a priest.

The Belfast Telegraph can today reveal his identity as Fr John J McCullagh.

Fr McCullagh was stood down from active ministry in 1995, but before that had a high profile role, including television appearances.

He was born in 1935 and |studied for the priesthood at Maynooth, where he was ordained in 1961.

He served in several parishes in the Derry diocese including St Patrick’s Church and St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry city.

Fr McCullagh made an out-of-court settlement in 2000 when he paid £12,000 of his own money and wrote a letter of apology to a woman from the Derry Diocese who accused him of abusing her over a 10-year period, from when she was just eight years old.

Fr McCullagh made the agreement without admission of liability.

In meeting with the family, Bishop Hegarty told them he would deal with their requests that Fr McCullagh would not be in active ministry and that he would not be in a position where he would have access to children.

Fr McCullagh is no longer in |active ministry, however, he continues to have an address in a parish in the Derry Diocese. Questions are currently being concentrated on the investigation into the allegations and while the PSNI said it does not comment on individual cases, Bishop of Derry Seamus Hegarty last night answered questions posed by this newspaper on Wednesday.

In a statement released through his spokesman Fr Michael Canny, it was confirmed that the bishop notified Social Services in May 1995 and met with senior RUC officers in October 1995.

In the statement from Fr Canny it said “a professional assessment of the priest was carried out”.

Belfast Telegraph


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