A Galway parish priest has been stood down pending a full investigation into allegations involving a child and dating back to the 1980s.

Stunned parishioners in the Galway parish were personally told by Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary that their priest was the subject of an enquiry.

The Archbishop travelled to the parish on Saturday night to formally read out a statement at evening mass.

The statement was then posted onto the diocesan website but neither the priest nor the parish were named publicly in the statement.

The curate at the parish in question prayed at Mass on Sunday for the priest and ‘for those who had taken away his peace’ according to the Irish Independent.

The paper also reported that the curate said he was ‘very sorry to have to read the archbishop’s statement about his very best friend’.

The statement from the Archbishop, read out at all Sunday masses in the Parish, said: “I deeply regret to inform you that an allegation with regard to child safeguarding has been made against Fr X, your parish priest. The allegation dates back to the 1980s.

“The allegation was reported immediately by the diocese to the police and the HSE and the National Board for Safeguarding Children.

“It is important to say that what has been received is an allegation, which will require to be investigated. In accordance with church safeguarding policy, Fr X will not be exercising ministry while the investigation in under way.

“Fr X is entitled to the constitutional and natural right of every person to the presumption of innocence. My prayers are with all concerned at this distressing time.

“The diocese continues to work with the civil authorities to promote the safety of children, which is of paramount importance.”

The alleged incident took place during the priest’s previous posting to a different and unnamed parish.

Michael NearyIrish Times