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Newry priest Canon Francis Brown reinstated after being cleared of historical abuse allegation

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Return: Canon Francis Brown

Return: Canon Francis Brown

Return: Canon Francis Brown

A Newry-based priest has been reinstated to his role after being cleared of an historical abuse allegation.

Canon Francis Brown voluntarily stepped aside from his role as administrator of Newry Cathedral in May 2018 after a safeguarding allegation was made against him which dated back to 1984.

He strongly denied any wrongdoing at the time and agreed to cooperate with a police investigation.

At the time, the Diocese of Dromore was at the centre of a scandal over its handling of abuse claims made against paedophile priest Malachy Finnegan.

In August last year, the Public Prosecution Service said they were dropping the case against Canon Brown after a "thorough and robust investigation".

An internal church probe has since concluded the claims were "unsubstantiated".

Canon Brown's immediate return was announced yesterday during evening mass in Newry Cathedral by the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin.

He said Canon Brown and the Diocese of Dromore had cooperated fully with the authorities.

"I know that Canon Brown has been greatly supported by the prayers and encouragement of many over these past two difficult years," he said.

"I would ask you to continue to support and help him to settle back in as he begins to resume his duties."

Archbishop Martin said it had been "a difficult time for all involved" and offered prayers to everyone affected.

He encouraged anyone that had suffered abuse of any kind to report it immediately to the local Health and Social Care Trust and the PSNI.

He added that abuse victims could contact the Safeguarding Office of the Diocese of Dromore and that the Church offered several confidential support services.

Belfast Telegraph