Saturday 29 November 2014

Priest accused of taking parish cash to fund high life

Alyson Henry

Published 02/03/2014 | 02:30

Lavish: Fr Anthony Egan
Lavish: Fr Anthony Egan

A FLAMBOYANT priest accused of stealing €500,000 from the Franciscan order in Dublin to fund a lavish lifestyle faces expulsion from the clergy if found guilty.

Father Anthony Egan was arrested last Wednesday and questioned by detectives after it emerged that a significant sum of money from parish donations was missing. A file is being prepared for the DPP.

A Franciscan order spokesperson last night told the Sunday Independent that they are co-operating fully with gardai in the investigation.

Gardai arrested Fr Egan following a tip-off from a senior member of the clergy.

The priest faces accusations of using €500,000 stolen from the church diocese to fund a lavish lifestyle for more than a decade.

According to reports, the priest enjoyed multiple trips to Paris and Monaco each year. The 59-year-old is believed to have a fascination with Monaco's royal family.

He is also believed to have spent the money on expensive shoes and clothes and to have spread his finances over multiple bank accounts.

Under canon law, a priest is entitled to receive one stipend from financial donations made during Mass collections. Additional stipends cannot be claimed if the priest celebrates more than one Mass a day.

If Fr Egan is found guilty of misappropriating funds within his diocese, he faces being defrocked from the clergy and will have to relinquish all responsibilities within the Church.

Fr Egan was previously cleared of criminal charges in February 2012 after he was alleged to have falsely advertised his services as a psychiatrist in a national newspaper.

At the time of the investigation, it was believed Fr Egan referred to himself publicly as a psychiatrist, and members of his old church, St Audeons, said they received post addressed to 'Dr Egan' as recently as six months ago.

The court heard Fr Egan placed the ad in the Irish Times because he wanted to build up his client base and earn some money.

The court heard that during Garda questioning the priest claimed he had studied at Harvard University. However, there is no record of him having studied there. The court also heard that the priest had been duped into paying €1,000 to complete an online course in psychiatry, at the end of which he was presented with a fake degree.

An investigation into the newspaper advertisement began after it was seen by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, who contacted the gardai.

Since Fr Egan was cleared of these charges, he has kept a low profile, moving from his home on Botanic Road to an address nearer his order on Merchant's Quay.

None of the missing parish funds have been recovered.

Sunday Independent

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