A Wexford priest has denied any wrongdoing after a woman contacted police over an alleged child sex abuse incident 30 years ago.

The complaint of child sexual abuse was made against Fr John Sweetman two weeks ago and refers to his time as a young priest in Wexford town.

Currently the parish priest in Riverchapel, Fr Sweetman has taken leave from all clerical duties while the complaint is investigated by police and health service officials.

On Saturday, according to the Irish Independent, Fr Sweetman told parishioners that the allegation was ‘completely untrue’ but he explained that under church child protection procedures he would stand down.
Fr Sweetman didn’t attend Sunday mass in his parish when a statement from the Diocese of Ferns was read out at all masses.

The diocese was the subject of a government enquiry in 2005 which investigated claims of more than 100 child abuse cases involving 21 priests between 1962 and 2002.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Ferns told the Irish Independent: “When the diocese receives a concern about a priest that relates to safeguarding children, it immediately notifies the gardai (police), the HSE and the church’s National Office for the Safeguarding of Children.”

A police spokesman has also confirmed to the Independent that a ‘historic’ complaint has been made against Fr Sweetman and is under investigation.