Northern Ireland

Fr Terry Rafferty suspended over sexual abuse claims

A priest from the Diocese of Dromore has been suspended over allegations of sexual abuse.

Fr Terry Rafferty was asked to step aside after an allegation was made against him several weeks ago.

In a statement Bishop of Dromore John McAreavy said the police had been informed of the allegations against Fr Rafferty, who denies the charges.

He confirmed: "Father Rafferty will not be exercising ministry while the investigation is carried out."

Fr Rafferty is a priest in the parish of Donaghmore in County Down.

Bishop McAreavy attended masses in Donaghmore over the weekend to inform parishioners of Fr Rafferty's suspension.

In a statement the bishop said: "I deeply regret to inform you that I have received an allegation raising safeguarding concerns in relation to a priest of the diocese.

"The allegation was reported immediately to the PSNI and the National Board for Safeguarding Children.

"In accordance with the church safeguarding policy the priest concerned will not be exercising ministry during the investigation.

"It is important to stress that what has been received is an allegation.

"The priest against whom the allegation is made denies any wrongdoing and continues to be entitled to the presumption of innocence."