Northern Ireland

Senior Belfast priest Fr Hugh Kennedy stands down

Fr Hugh Kennedy said he made his decision after speaking to Bishop Noel Treanor
Image caption Fr Hugh Kennedy said he made his decision after speaking to Bishop Noel Treanor

A senior Catholic cleric in Northern Ireland has temporarily stood aside, the Down and Connor diocesan press office has confirmed.

Father Hugh Kennedy, the administrator of St Peter's Cathedral in west Belfast, took the decision after talking to Bishop Noel Treanor in July.

No details have been given on why the 55-year-old priest has stopped working at the cathedral.

Fr Kennedy has been on sick leave since July.

"Bishop Treanor requested me to stand aside from all my priestly/cathedral duties on foot of information he had received," he said.

"This information was not shared with me. Following from this, I have ceased working as a priest at the cathedral.

Information

"I have no hesitation in co-operating with church/state authorities in light of this development."

In a statement, the diocesan press office said: "In mid-July the Diocese of Down and Connor received information citing a priest of the diocese, Dr Hugh Kennedy, administrator of St Peter's Cathedral.

"This information was forwarded promptly to the relevant statutory authorities, (police and social services), who are seeking to clarify its content.

"Fr Hugh Kennedy, who has been on sick leave since early July and before this information was made known to the diocese, has agreed to step aside from his duties while the information is being clarified.

"The diocese can also confirm that the information does not relate to the Schola Cantorum, St Peter's Cathedral, nor to any member of the schola."

The statement said no further comment could be made while the civil authorities continued to clarify the matter.

Fr Kennedy, who was ordained in 1981 when he was studying at the Irish College in Rome, was appointed administrator at St Peter's in 2006.