Belfast priest apologises for hurt caused as he faces child abuse charges

Irish Times
February 16, 1996

A Catholic priest was charged yesterday at Belfast Magistrates Court with a series of sex offences involving young boys and girls.

A member of the Holy Ghost order, Father Joseph Michael Steele (55), from Belfast, faced 11 charges of indecent assault and one of gross in decency. His address was given as Kimmage Manor, Dublin.

The alleged offences took place between 1969 and 1983. At that time, Father Steele was a curate in St Theresa's parish, Glen Road, west Belfast, and at St Colmcille's, Ballyhackamore, in east Belfast. He was also chaplain at a children's home in south Belfast.

The two boys and three girls named in the charges were aged nine to 15 at the time.

Det Insp Roy Suitters gave evidence of charging Father Steele at Strandtown RUC station on Tuesday. He said the accused replied to the charges "I am deeply sorry for the hurt I have caused to..."

The resident magistrate, Mr Ian Bamford, directed the inspector not to finish the reply since it would identify the children.

The inspector told Mr Denis Maloney, defending, that Father Steele had co operated fully in the investigation and his response to the charges appeared genuine.

Mr Maloney said Father Steele would continue to cooperate "in this very comprehensive investigation" and added "He apologises to those named in the charge sheets for the pain and suffering that has been sustained."

A prosecution lawyer applied for a remand and said there was no objection to bail. The magistrate said the address on the charge sheet was outside the jurisdiction.

Mr Maloney said he had given the authorities an address in Northern Ireland where Father Steele would be residing and "the inspector is happy with that".

Father Steele was remanded on his own bail to appear in court again on April 4th.























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