Priest Stands down While Allegation Is Investigated

By Maresa Fagan
Roscommon Herald [Ireland]
February 8, 2006

A priest has this week claimed that there is “no foundation whatsoever” to an allegation made against him of misconduct involving a child.

Boyle native Canon Niall Ahern said that he is standing down “while the truth is being independently and categorically determined”.

It is understood that the allegation, which has been reported to the Gardai and the HSE, involved a child and dates back to the late 1970’s.

On Sunday Canon Ahern, Parish Priest of Ransboro and Strandhill, Sligo bade farewell to his congregation when Bishop Christopher Jones made the shock announcement at St Patrick’s Church, Strandhill, during a special service for children preparing for their First Communion.

Canon Ahern was administrator of St Mary’s, the largest parish in the Elphin Diocese, until he was made parish priest of Ransboro-Strandhill last summer.

In his late 50s, Canon Ahern, a native of St. Patrick Street, Boyle, was ordained in 1973, and was instrumental in organising ceremonies to welcome Mother Teresa of Calcutta when she visited Sligo in 1993. He was also compere at Knock Basilica during celebrations in 2003 to mark her beatification.

On Sunday, the Diocese of Elphin released a statement, confirming that a priest, which it did not name, was stepping down.

“In response to a request from Bishop Jones, a priest of the Elphin Diocese has agreed to step aside from his ministry while an allegation made against him relating back to the late 1970s is being investigated,” the statement read.

“It is important to stress the fact that what is being investigated is an allegation, which has not been established as either true or false. The agreement of the priest to step aside does not connote guilt on his part. We pray for God’s help and blessing for all concerned at this difficult time,” it concluded.


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