The Argus

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Community rallied behind him following the revelation

THE community rallied behind their parish priest after an allegation of abuse was made against Fr. Oliver Brennan in August 2010,

The anger which had built in the community first simmered a few months earlier, in the spring of 2010 when a group of parents had made it known that they did not want Cardinal Sean Brady to officiate at a confirmation ceremony for children in the parish.

The decision had been taken, according to local people, in response to revelations that in the early 1970s Cardinal Brady, who was then a young priest, had asked two young people who claimed they had been abused by Fr. Brendan Smyth to sign confidentiality clauses.

Fr. Oliver Brennan had to inform the Cardinal of the wishes of the Blackrock parents.

By early summer, parishioners had learned of plans by the church to reassign Fr. Brennan to another parish.

Local people showed their anger by threatening to refuse help with payment of more than €1 million owed by the parish, when it was announced that Fr. Brennan was to be moved.

A petition that was also signed by almost 1000 local people was delivered to the Archdiocese of Armagh, and Fr. Brennan said publicly that he did not wish to be transferred.

After the row had brewed for some weeks, Bishop Gerard Clifford arrived to address the congregation on August 14th, in what many had hoped would resolve the ongoing tension.

But he delivered the shocking news that Fr. Brennan had stood down as a result of accusations made against him.

A group of parishioners confronted Bishop Clifford in the sacristy after he informed the congregation that Fr. Brennan was stepping down ahead of an investigation.

Some even walked out of the church, saying they would never attend mass in Blackrock again.

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