Accusation came 'like bolt out of hell'
ORDEAL WAS TRAUMATIC AND PAINFUL
LOUTH priest Fr. Oliver Brennan said he ' held no grudges' against the church hierarchy for the way he was treated following allegation of abuse in August 2010.
Speaking after his solicitor had been informed by the Public Prosecution Service of Northern Ireland last week that he would have 'no case to answer', Fr. Brennan admitted the ordeal had been ' traumatic and painful.'
He recalled the morning of August 14th, when Bishop Gerard Clifford and a Child Protection Officer arrived at the Parochial House in Blackrock and read out a statement to him.
'It was like a bolt out of hell,' he admitted.
'I assumed it was connected with me being changed from Blackrock and Haggardstown to another parish where I could also work part-time for the Diocese.
His proposed transfer met with strong opposition with 900 people signing a petition in support of his staying.
'I had no idea what was in store. I got a phone call from the Bishop at about 8 o clock on the Saturday morning saying he wanted to see me. He arrived at approximately 11 o'clock. I got no indication what it was about.'
He said he was 'absolutely stunned' when he was told what the visit was about. He was read out a statement saying an allegation had been made about him dating back over 30 years.
Fr. brennan recalled being ' so stunned and shocked that I was unable to respond apart from to say 'I am absolutely innocent of anything of this nature'.'
The meeting ended with him being told he had to leave the house by six o' clock. The Bishop said he would be speaking at mass that evening about the matter. He also spoke the following morning in Haggardstown, which was in accordance with current church policy.
In the midst of the turmoil, Fr. Brennan was due to officiate at a wedding Mass at one o clock and perform a number of baptisms in the afternoon. He had to tell the people he could not do the ceremonies and find another priest to do the wedding.
'I went on auto pilot making phone calls to find a priest for the wedding.' It was only five minutes before the bride was due to walk up the aisle that he sorted out the panicked situation.
Despite the ordeal, Fr. Brennan said he didn't hold 'onto any grudges' against the church hierarchy who were carrying through church regulations.