A CATHOLIC priest who was banned from a shopping centre after he was caught spying on people in a men's toilet has been given a promotion, it has emerged.
Fr Patrick McGarvey (43) has been appointed parish priest of Fanad, Co Donegal, by Bishop of Raphoe Philip Boyce.
The promotion took place at a special Mass at St Mary's in Fanavolty last month.
Fr McGarvey was caught by undercover police at the Foyleside shopping centre in Derry in August 2004 watching people go to the public toilets there.
Police officers had carried out an investigation after complaints from members of the public who had seen someone acting suspiciously at the premises on a number of occasions.
The priest was charged with indecency in observing another person carrying out a private act in a public toilet for the purposes of sexual gratification.
In June 2005 he pleaded guilty to the charge and was given a two-year conditional discharge. He was also banned from the shopping centre where the offence took place.
The court heard the priest had received 'treatment' as a result of the case.
At the time of his conviction, Fr McGarvey was a curate in Stranorlar, Co Donegal. He later returned to ministry there where he was given a standing ovation by the congregation at St Mary's Church in the town when he apologised to the church, the people and those he had observed in the toilets.
His elevation from curate to parish priest in Fanad has surprised some in the diocese.
One church figure said today: "Fr Pat has paid a heavy price for his indiscretions in that shopping centre and should be allowed to move on.
"No-one was physically harmed by him and he has apologised. He is a very popular priest in Fanad."
However another source admitted: "I would question the timing of this decision. It's not exactly a PR winner."
Fr McGarvey said: "That's all behind me now."