Priest ‘voluntarily’ steps down after ‘historic’ complaint reported

Fr Gerard McAleer  INTT1811-150JS
Fr Gerard McAleer INTT1811-150JS

A Catholic priest in Co Tyrone has “voluntarily voluntarily stood aside from his position” due to “historic” concerns brought to the Irish police force An Garda Síochána.

Fr Gerard McAleer, parish priest of Donaghmore, stepped down over concerns “prior to his ordination as a priest”, the Archdiocese of Armagh said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese said: “In line with the safeguarding policy of the Archdiocese of Armagh and the standards and guidance of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, a parish priest of the Archdiocese of Armagh* has voluntarily stood aside from his position because of concerns brought to the Diocese and reported to the Gardaí.”

The spokesperson continued: “The information received is historic and relates to a time prior to his time in ministry in the Archdiocese, and indeed prior to his ordination as a priest.

“The relevant statutory authorities in Northern Ireland have been informed.”

The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin, said the priest is entitled to “the presumption of innocence”.

The Church spokesperson said: “The Archbishop of Armagh has asked for prayers for all concerned while stressing that during the period of the investigation the priest, who has voluntarily stepped aside from all his pastoral duties, continues to be entitled to the natural right of every person to the presumption of innocence pending the completion of all relevant State and Church processes.”