Northern Ireland

Catholic priest Fr Paul Symonds abuse claim dismissed

Fr Paul Symonds
Image caption Fr Paul Symonds was relieved of public ministry during the inquiry

A Catholic priest who was forced to step down from public ministry after an allegation of indecent assault is no longer the subject of a police inquiry.

Fr Paul Symonds, 65, was being investigated by Lancashire police about an allegation of abuse at a school in the county in the 1970s.

Before he stood down in November 2009, he was awarded an OBE for his cross-community work in his Ballymena parish.

Originally from England, his first posting in NI was in Drumbo.

A spokesperson for Down and Connor diocese told the Irish News on Wednesday night that it had not yet been informed of the development and "such matters are the responsibilities of the civil authorities".

He said the subject of Fr Symonds returning to to active ministry "will be considered by the diocesan safeguard committe according to the national guidelines for safeguarding".

When contacted by the BBC, Fr Symonds said that he could not comment until outstanding legal issues within the diocese are resolved.

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