Cleric sorry for allowing TV crews at Northern Ireland church which contains 'miracle soil'
A senior cleric has apologised for allowing television crews to film in church grounds after they were banned by one of his priests.
The churchyard in Boho, Co Fermanagh, has seen a sharp rise in visitors after scientists discovered a new strain of bacteria that could help in the fight against drug-resistant bacteria.
The new strain was found to inhibit multi-resistant bacteria identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a major threat to human health.
According to local belief, the 'miracle soil' from the Sacred Heart Church near Enniskillen can cure infections after it was found to contains a new strain of streptomyces, a micro-organism used to produce antibiotics.
Dr Gerry Quinn said his research was inspired by his great-uncle, who believed he could cure jaundice by foraging natural ingredients in the mountains.
However, the discovery has caused some controversy.
The Impartial Reporter newspaper said a significant increase in visitors to the church grounds to collect some of the soil is causing concern among locals, who are worried that things may be "getting a bit out of hand".
Last week the parish priest Fr Cathal Deery refused permission for television crews from the BBC and UTV to film in the churchyard.
However, his decision was overruled by Monsignor Joseph McGuinness, administrator of the Diocese of Clogher. He said he did not know permission had been declined, blaming a communication breakdown.
Fr Deery declined to comment on the matter when contacted yesterday. However, in a statement, Monsignor McGuinness apologised to the priest and his parishioners, saying he wasn't aware that Fr Deery had initially refused the television crews access to the church grounds.
He said: "When I was approached by the BBC for permission to film at Boho, I was unaware that they had previously been in contact with Fr Deery. I was therefore not aware of the response which he had given.
"In this particular instance I took the view that, under clearly specified conditions, permission could be given. It was only later that I found out that Fr Cathal took a different view, which was also perfectly justifiable.
"Unfortunately there was a failure in communication, and I very much regret the annoyance and upset which this has caused, both to Fr Cathal and clearly also to people in the parish," he added.