The Argus

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Fr Oliver's relief as he is cleared


LOUTH priest Fr Oliver Brennan says he ' holds no grudges' against the church hierarchy, after a PSNI investigation found he had no case to answer in an abuse allegation.

The former Black-rock parish priest, pictured right, who had to stand down in August 2010, said he prays for his accusers.

Fr Brennan told The Argus of his 'absolute relief ' at being completely cleared by the North's Public Prosecution Service.

'I knew that I was innocent, and anyone who knows me knew this was a false and groundless allegation, but it was a very difficult time, a painful 15 months.'

The nature of his departure from Black-rock parish caused uproar in the parish last year, with a huge outpouring of support for Fr Brennan. ' The support was a great help to me during very difficult times,' he said. FORMER Blackrock P.P Fr. Oliver Brennan has spoken of his 'absolute relief ' that his name has been cleared following an investigation by the PSNI in relation to allegations of child abuse.

The Co.louth priest told the Argus he had endured a 'painful ordeal' in the 15 months since an allegation was made, forcing him to step down from his clerical role in Blackrock, where he had been a popular parish priest for ten years.

'I knew that I was innocent, and anyone who knows me knew this was a false and groundless allegation, but it was a very difficult time, a painful 15 months.'

Fr. Brennan told of his 'deep sense of shock' at being informed that an accusation had been made, and by the following morning he had to leave active ministry and the community he loved in Blackrock.

' The Bishop (Clifford) followed the correct procedures after an allegation of this nature is made, and I did voluntarily agree to take administrative leave while the matter was under investigation.'

It took eight months until he was told by police in the north who had made the accusation against him.

'I didn't know until April this year who it was... and I felt very hurt personally, as well as for my family, friends and parishioners. I continue to pray for the person who has made these allegations against me.'

Having been advised not to speak publicly until the police investigation was over, he described his life as being 'completely turned upside down' by the ordeal. 'It was very frustrating not being able to speak about it,' said Fr. Brennan. ' But clear in the knowledge that there was no substance to the allegations, I was determined to maintain my good name and reputation.'

He spoke of the desire for priests ' to be treated the same as every other professional' when an accusation of abuse is made against them. 'I would like to see priests being treated as teachers, doctors, and social workers would be, where the matter is not the subject of a public announcement. A principal does not call all staff and pupils in to announce there has been an allegation, in the way a Bishop does.'

He said a priest had ' the absolute right to the presumption of innocence' as everyone else.

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