A CATHOLIC parish priest has been temporarily suspended over allegations of child sex abuse which is claimed to have taken place "a considerable time ago".
The suspension of the priest in the diocese of Kilmore, Co Cavan, was announced by Bishop Leo O'Reilly in a statement that was read out at all Masses in the parish concerned.
Stunned parishioners were informed that the priest had, in line with child safeguarding procedures, voluntarily agreed to take "administrative leave" for the duration of an investigation into the allegations.
The bishop's statement said: "It is important to stress that the priest enjoys the right to the presumption of innocence whilst these matters are being investigated. From experience, I am aware that investigations of this nature can take a considerable time to complete."
Pending the outcome of the investigation, he had therefore appointed another priest to take over this priest's duties during the investigation.
Bishop O'Reilly prayed for God's help "for all concerned at this difficult time".
An unnamed parent in the parish described the allegations as a "bolt from the blue".