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Tuesday 25 June 2019

Court rules Ross is Fr Cleary's son

ISABEL HURLEY

DNA tests have proved that a 22-year-old Dublin man is the son of the late Fr Michael Cleary. Ross Hamilton has won his battle to be recognised as the child of the celebrity priest who died in 1993 from cancer at the age of 60. Fr Cleary had refused to acknowledge Ross as his son.An in-camera court case held last Friday was settled in just 20 minutes after evidence was given of how the late priest's DNA, was obtained from a medical swab. It satisfied the court that Michael Cleary was Ross Hamilton's father.

Dublin solicitor Peter Lennon, acting for Ross Hamilton and his mother, Phyllis, confirmed the case had been heard last Friday in Dublin law courts behind closed doors.

``In this case, Ross was the plaintiff under the Parentage Act and we obtained a sample of Fr Cleary's DNA from the UK and took our case to the courts. The case was heard in-camera before Justice John Buckley last Friday,'' he said.

Mr Lennon said his clients now had to wait for the two week appeal period to be up. ``The appeal period will be up on Friday, February 19 and it was our intention not to make any press statements before then.

``We will be issuing a formal press statement when the appeal period is up,'' he added. The case had taken three years to come to court.

The legal victory now puts Ross in line to inherit the estate left by Fr Cleary, understood to be valued in the region of £100,000.

Ross's mother, Phyllis, had a 26-year-affair with Fr Cleary and her book, Secret Love, published after Fr Cleary's death, shocked the country.

Their love affair began in 1967 when Phyllis, now 49, was only 17-years-old. As a child, she had been abused and had been in an orphanage and also in a psychiatric hospital.

She turned to Fr Cleary for help and guidance and the couple secretly exchanged marriage vows. Their affair was consummated three months later and their first child was born in 1970 and put up for adoption.

In 1976, Phyllis Hamilton gave birth to Ross and the three of them shared a family home life. However, during Fr Cleary's illness, relations became strained and he refused to acknowledge Ross as his son.

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