Father Oliver Brennan, the former parish priest in Dundalk County Louth who was falsely accused of child abuse, said support from family and friends kept him sane during the two-year ordeal.
Speaking on the Marian Finucane programme on RTE Radio One last Saturday, he said,
“It was the worst thing in the world, to be accused of the worst crime of all.”
According to the Dundalk Democrat, Fr Brennan said that on August 14, 2010, the bishop, who was with a child safe-guarding officer, read out to him the accusation.
He was told that he would have to leave the parochial house by 6pm that evening and a statement would be read out at the 6.30pm Mass.
Fr Brennan then went to stay at his brother’s house.
In the interview, Fr Brennan said he had not been told who made the accusation against him.
He added that he then decided to ask the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to investigate the matter.
Then his accuser made a statement to the police in January 2011 which Fr Brennan said, “was mixed up”.
“At one point (in her statement) she said: ‘he never touched me’.”
Fr Brennan said he did remember the person who made the accusation.
“I was not in this parish but I remember giving her family some help.”
The accuser had been involved in a case in which she allegedly stole money and Fr Brennan had asked the police not to pursue it.
“I was trying to help her,” he said.
“The police interviewed me in April 2011. They were very thorough. They interviewed a lot of people in the area.
“In November 2011 they sent documentation to the Public Prosecution Service and three days later I was told is was over.
“I received clearance from the PSNI and the Public Prosecution Service.”
The Catholic Church sent documentation to the Vatican which was cleared last May.
The Diocese of Armagh held its own administrative process. On October 19, Cardinal Brady told Fr Brennan that there was no case to answer and that the allegation was false.
“It would put the fear of God into a lot of other priests,” said Marian.
Fr Brennan, who has now been appointed to a new parish, added that he hadn’t been invited back to the parish but he would have liked to have gone back to meet his former parishioners.
He said, initially, the ordeal made him bitter about the Church but said he no longer felt that way.
Many listeners called to express their support. Some of the callers said he should take a case against his accuser.
Fr Brennan did say some Blackrock parishioners wanted him to take a case, but he said:
“It’s very important to forgive.”
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