Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Belfast priest who got parishioner pregnant lines up return

Fr Ciaran Dallat
Fr Ciaran Dallat

By Ciaran Barnes Chief Reporter

A Northern Ireland priest who was put on gardening leave by the Catholic Church after getting a parishioner pregnant has made a return to public life.

Fr Ciaran Dallat quit his post at St Peter’s Cathedral in west Belfast in March after the woman who later miscarried his baby revealed her story to Sunday Life.

The 52-year-old cleric announced he was undertaking “spiritual guidance” to “repair the damage and hurt” he had caused.

But after eight months out of the spotlight the priest has started stepping out in public again.

Last month talented guitarist Fr Dallat — who wooed his ex-lover ‘Linda’ with cheesy ballads — oversaw the music at a funeral in St Bernard’s Church in Newtownabbey.

The Catholic Church last night denied he has resumed his ministerial duties, but sources say that it is only a matter of time before he is back working as a “full-time priest”.

“We’ve been told that Fr Dallat will make a return to the Down and Connor diocese in the new year,” said an insider.

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“Knowing the Church they will stick him in some rural parish where he can keep his head down.”

Referring to the funeral at which Fr Dallat conducted the music, a Catholic Church spokesman said: “He wasn’t involved in it in a ministerial way, and hasn’t yet returned to ministry.”

Not only did Fr Dallat’s former lover reveal how he got her pregnant, she also explained how she lavished him with £20,000 in gifts before he dumped her after “getting a message from God”.

She said that on the night they first slept together the priest — who grew up near Ballycastle — walked into her hotel room during a holy pilgrimage and demanded: “Take your clothes off.”

In her only media interview, Linda, 49, told Sunday Life that she had sex with Fr Dallat “three to four times” a week between September 2012 and April 2014.

All the while he was in the pulpit of the Sacred Heart church in north Belfast urging his flock to follow the word of God while breaking his priestly vows on a daily basis.

“He groomed me, he preyed on me, and then he betrayed me,” said Linda, who described Fr Dallat as an “experienced” lover and showed off a Valentine’s card that he had sent her.

Fr Dallat’s affair with Linda rekindled the debate within the Catholic Church over whether priests should remain celibate.

The topic was touched on again during the week when an unnamed homosexual priest told the Stephen Nolan radio show that he was suicidal due to his sexuality being “demonised” and rejected by the Church.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church described the interview as “heartbreaking” and urged the cleric to seek help.

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