FR Oliver Brennan, former parish priest at Blackrock, has said the support he got from family and friends kept him sane during the two-year ordeal he suffered when he was falsely accused of child abuse.
Fr Brennan was speaking on the Marian Finucane programme on RTE Radio One last Saturday.
“It was the worst thing in the world,” he said, “to be accused of the worst crime of all.”
He said that on the 14 August 2010 the bishop with a child safe guarding officer read out to him the accusation and he was told that he would have to leave the parochial house by 6pm that evening and a statement would be read out at the 6.30pm Mass.
He was then asked if he had anywhere to go.
He said he had a wedding to officiate at that day but was told that would not be possible.
He then went to stay at his brother’s house.
In the interview with Marian Finucane he was asked he he had been told who had made the allegation. He replied: No. He had not been told.
Fr Brennan said he then decided to ask the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to investigate the matter.
It was not until January 2011 that his accuser made a statement to the PSNI which Fr Brennan said “was mixed up”.
“At one point (in her statement) she said: ‘he never touched me’. “
Fr Brennan said he did remember the person who made the accusation.
“I was not in this parish but I remember giving her family some help.”
He said his accuser had been involved in a case in which it was alleged that she stole money and he had gone to the police asking them not to pursue it.
“I was trying to help her.”
“The police interviewed me in April 2011. They were very thorough. They interviewed a lot of people in the area.
“In November 2011 they sent documentation to the Public Prosecution Service and three days later I was told is was over.
“I received clearance from the PSNI and the Public Prosecution Service.”
But that was not the end of the matter. The Catholic Church sent documentation to the Vatican which was cleared last May.
Then the Diocese of Armagh held its own administrative process and on 19 October last Fr Brennan was called in by Cardinal Brady and told there was no case to answer. The allegation was false.
“It would put the fear of God into a lot of other priests,” said Marian.
Fr Brennan said he hadn’t been invited back to the parish but he would have like to have gone back to meet his former parishoners. He has now been appointed to a new parish.
It had initially made him bitter about the Church but he was not bitter anymore.
There were many calls of support from listeners some of whom said he should take a case against his accuser.
Fr Brennan said some parishioners from Blackrock wanted him to take a case, but he said:
“It’s very important to forgive.”