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Wednesday 16 October 2019

Parishioners in shock as 'respected' curate found guilty and fined €6,000

Ralph Riegel

PARISHIONERS of a quiet village were in shock yesterday at the revelation their curate has made a €213,000 tax settlement with the Revenue Commissioners.

But residents of Whitechurch in Co Cork refused to speak about Fr Tadhg O'Donovan's financial affairs -- describing him as "a highly respected priest totally devoted to his ministry".

Locals privately expressed shock at the news their curate had been fined €6,050 in Cork District Court for a tax offence, but steadfastly refused all public comment on their priest.

"He is very popular around here -- and we've nothing to say," one man declared.

Fr O'Donovan is now expected to play a full part in the Easter ceremonies in the Cork village -- the highlight of the Church calendar.

The curate, a native of Cork, has been based over the past year in Whitechurch which, while not far from Cork city, is in the Diocese of Cloyne rather than the Diocese of Cork & Ross.

Fr O'Donovan -- in his mid 40s -- has been based in Whitechurch since he arrived last August from his previous parish, Kilworth-Araglin in North Cork.

Ordained in 1985, he resides at the Parochial House in Whitechurch. Like all diocesan priests in Ireland, his income is entirely dependent on his parish and local collections.

Most priests average an income of between €25,000 and €40,000 per annum, but also face a huge variety of costs ranging from transport to housekeeping and from living expenses to ancillary costs.

In Kilworth-Araglin, Fr O'Donovan was described as popular, energetic and a tremendous community activist. While in the North Cork parish, he led a major campaign to refurbish the parish's second church in Araglin

Last week, Fr O'Donovan's brother John was fined €7,300 in Mallow District Court for failing to fully declare rental income on a number of properties in which he had an interest. He was also given a one-month suspended prison sentence.

Mr O'Donovan, Kilvealton East, Mallow, Co Cork, had made a settlement with the Revenue Commissioners of €55,367, which included back taxes, civil penalties and interest. The rental incomes which were not fully declared related to Rental Supplement payments received for his tenants.

According to the Revenue Commissioner's website, the offences all related to a period dating from 1998 to 2002 -- the identical tax period at the centre of Fr O'Donovan's €213,222 settlement.

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