Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland priest unaware of details of 'safeguarding' allegation made against him

By Jonathan Bell

The priest who has stepped aside from his duties over a police investigation into a historic "safeguarding allegation" made against him says he has not been told of the details of the claim.

Canon Francis Brown said he looked forward to a "expeditious examination" of the matter saying he expected to return to his work in the near future.

The Diocese of Dromore confirmed the priest would be stepping aside in a statement on Saturday evening and it and the priest were fully cooperating with police. 

On Sunday a statement was released on behalf of Canon Brown, administrator of the Newry parish.

He said: "I have been informed by Bishop Philip Boyce, the Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese, that an allegation of an historic nature has been made against me. The details of the allegation have not so far been made known to either myself or The Diocese.

"The complaint has been made recently and I understand that some time is required to have it investigated.

"Naturally, I have agreed therefore to step aside from my role as Administrator of the Parish for the time being to allow the investigation to be completed.

"In accordance with the agreed protocol I shall not be involved in ministry during that period of time.

"I wish to reassure all of my parishioners, my fellow priests, deacon and religious that I look forward to a thorough and expeditious examination of this matter and I expect to return to my work in the parish in the near future.

"I hope that you will remember me in your thoughts and prayers in the weeks ahead and I look forward to returning soon to again serve you in the Parish of Newry."

Police said they are investigating a complaint made in April this year.

It comes after the Diocese of Dromore was embroiled in the scandal over its handling of abuse claims made against paedophile priest Father Malachy Finnegan.

A PSNI spokesman said: "PSNI Public Protection Branch are currently investigating an historical allegation of abuse against a member of clergy in the Diocese of Dromore.

"This allegation was reported to PSNI in April 2018.

"As this is an ongoing investigation it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time."

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