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The two priests at war over cash claim

AN alleged slander row involving two priests at James Connolly Memorial Hospital in Blanchardstown, Dublin, has ended with the public reading of an apology from one of them.

Ciaran Dalton, a former chaplain at the hospital and now lay counsellor, of Arran Court, Waterville, Blanchardstown, had claimed in the Circuit Civil Court that head chaplain Fr Martin Geraghty had slandered him.

Mr Dalton had alleged that Fr Geraghty had told a lay chaplain that money was missing from a Mass Collection Fund which helped priests and that he, Mr Dalton, had taken it.



LUNCH

Fr Geraghty, who lives in Phibs-borough, Dublin, had denied he made such a statement or had spoken in such terms about Mr Dalton or had ever bad mouthed him.

The case had been almost fully heard over three days before Judge Joseph Mathews in July last when the judge dramatically had to pull out of it when Mr Dalton's barrister John Ferry questioned a number of "developments."

He said a senior member of the Irish Inner Bar, 85-year-old Patrick Long, had shaken hands and spoken with the defendant, Fr Geraghty, in court and had lunched with a witness in the case after having met the judge briefly in his chambers.

Judge Mathews said that while no suggestion of impropriety on the part of the court had been made by Mr Ferry he had no alternative but to withdraw.

When the case came up for retrial before Judge Jacqueline Linnane yesterday, barrister Siobhan Phelan, counsel for Fr Geraghty, told the court it had settled and could be struck out on her reading of an apology on behalf of Fr Geraghty.

Fr Geraghty regretted that Mr Dalton had felt it necessary to issue court proceedings against him.

Mr Dalton had applied €10,204 from the chaplaincy fund for a course of Study- In-Service training in Trinity College.

This had been on the basis that Mr Dalton would apply to the HSE for course funding and would repay the fund with the money received from the HSE.

Fr Geraghty said that when no monies had been forthcoming from the HSE, his understanding had been that it should in any event be repaid and, on this not having been done, he had believed it his duty to inquire into the matter.

"In so doing I wish to assure you that I acted at all times in good faith, having regard to my obligations as head chaplain in the hospital," Fr Geraghty said in his apology.



ADVICE

"I particularly wish to assure you that in no way did I intend to impugn your honesty or good name and I accept now that I was mistaken in my understanding that the money should be repaid regardless."

The earlier hearing had been told that Fr Geraghty had sought the advice of Bishop Ray Field, an auxiliary bishop in the Dublin Archdiocese who had told him he should have the money paid back.

On behalf of Mr Dalton it had been stated the money had been paid to Trinity College and vouched for.

hnews@herald.ie


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