'Priest should not have supported Foley'

Fr Sean Sheehy who stepped aside as acting Parish Priest of Castlegregory following a meeting with Bishop Bill Murphy on Friday regarding his support for convicted sex attacker Danny Foley from Listowel.
Fr Sean Sheehy who stepped aside as acting Parish Priest of Castlegregory following a meeting with Bishop Bill Murphy on Friday regarding his support for convicted sex attacker Danny Foley from Listowel.

SIMON BROUDER sbrouder@kerryman.ie

THERE'S been a mixed reaction in Castlegregory to the actions of Father Sean Sheehy who caused outrage with his outspoken support for convicted sex offender Danny Foley.

Locals in Castlegregory were quick to condemn Father Foley's support of convicted sex attacker Danny Foley but praised the priest for his previous work in the community since he took over as acting parish priest in 2007.

Fr Sheehy ( 67) returned from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to take over as acting Parish Priest of Castlegregory in mid 2007 after Parish Priest Tadgh O'Dochartagh fell ill.

He remained in the position until last Friday when, after a meeting with Bishop of Kerry Bill Murphy, he agreed to step aside from the position in the wake of the public furore created by his actions in the Foley case.

Bishop Murphy subsequently issued a strong statement firmly distancing himself and the diocese of Kerry from Fr Sheehy who was also strongly condemned by Vera O'Leary of the Kerry Rape Crisis Centre.

Fr Sheehy, who was born in Listowel, has spent most of his ministry in the United States. He is a lifelong friend of the Foley family and has known Danny Foley since the Listowel bouncer was 15 years of age.

Castlegregory

residents who spoke to The Kerryman were unwilling to go on the record about their controversial former priest but several expressed anger at his actions in Tralee Circuit Court where he gave evidence as a character witness for Foley, describing him as 'a man with the highest respect for women and someone who does not have an abusive bone in his body'

Despite the anger there was also some sympathy for the priest who was praised especially for his involvement in community groups, charities and the GAA.

One resident, who asked that they're name be withheld, said there was some sympathy for the position the priest has found himself in.

"There's no question that he shouldn't have done what he did and support that man. He should never have said the things he did about the victim, there was no need to do that to the young girl."

"All that being said Fr Sheehy has worked hard since he got here. He's a good community worker. What he said in court and on the radio shouldn't take from what he did beforehand."

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