Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Former Tyrone GAA coach and priest Fr Gerard McAleer re-instated in parish following historical complaint probe


A CO Tyrone priest and former GAA coach who stepped down from clerical duties following a historical safeguarding complaint has been re-instated in his parish.

Fr Gerard McAleer voluntarily stood aside from his parish role at Donaghmore in 2018 following the complaint to Gardaí, which related to a time prior to his ordination as a priest in the 1980s.

The former principal of St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon was assistant manager of the all-Ireland winning Tyrone GAA football team led by Mickey Harte in 2003 - the same year he took up his role as parish priest in Donaghmore.

Yesterday a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Armagh confirmed a "full investigation" had been carried out by authorities on both sides of the border, and no further action was to be taken.

The spokesperson said Fr McAleer, who is in his 60s, would be returning to his parish duties at Donaghmore as a result of the probe's conclusion.

"Fr McAleer and the Archdiocese of Armagh cooperated fully with the statutory authorities, north and south, responsible for investigating and following up such matters," the spokesperson said.

"Following a full investigation by the relevant authorities, no prosecution for any matter was taken with regard to Fr McAleer.

"The Archdiocese of Armagh then initiated the church processes that are required in such instances and these have also concluded that the case against Fr McAleer is unsubstantiated. Fr McAleer can therefore immediately return to full and complete ministry as a priest in the Archdiocese of Armagh."

The spokesperson said it had been a "difficult time for all involved and we offer our prayers for all concerned".

They added that the Archdiocese "continues to recommend anyone who has suffered abuse of any kind to report it immediately to the local Health and Social Care Trust, and to the PSNI in Northern Ireland, or to Tusla and An Garda Síochána in the Republic of Ireland."

"They may also contact the Safeguarding Office of the Archdiocese of Armagh on (028) 3752 2045."