Priest pleads innocence

A KILKENNY priest at the centre of an abuse allegation which has not been specified has said he is innocent.

A KILKENNY priest at the centre of an abuse allegation which has not been specified has said he is innocent.

Fr Peter Muldowney has told fellow priests in the Diocese of Ossory that he has done nothing wrong and has been completely shocked by the claim.

“I am absolutely innocent,” he said. He asked to be removed temporarily from his post as parish priest of Mooncoin on Friday when details of the matter came to light in the middle of last week. He has left the parochial house in the village and is staying at a secret location, thought to be a Christian Brothers safe house while the matter is investigated.

The Kilkenny People has learned that the incident under scrutiny occurred 34 years ago and centres around his time as a Christian Brother. The Garda investigation is being handled by detectives from Dublin City and has nothing to do with his time in the diocese of Ossory.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) are also involved in the investigation.

The Church Of The Assumption, Mooncoin fell silent on Saturday evening when Bishop Seamus Freeman walked out of the back presbytery and on to the altar. He told a stunned congregation that it was a serious matter when the bishop turns up to say Mass.

He broke the news about Fr Muldowney to them and and afterwards spent time talking to concerned parishioners.

Just over 29 miles away in Kilkenny city there were more tears when Fr Martin Delaney told evening Mass in St Canice’s Church in the city that he had received notification from the bishop to go immediately to Mooncoin to take over the duties of parish priest there. He was surrounded by Mass goers afterwards who had been at the silver jubilee of his ordination just a few weeks earlier. Fr Delaney has been extremely popular in the city. At the same time, a notice appeared on the diocesan website, ossory.ie, saying that Fr Muldowney had asked for a period of leave from his ministry with immediate effect so that “a safeguarding matter” concerning him could be addressed. The Bishop of Ossory, Dr Seamus Freeman acceded to the request.

Bishop Freeman stated that: “In compliance with our Diocesan Policy on Safeguarding, this matter has been referred to An Garda Siochana, the HSE and to the National Board for Safeguarding Children. The presumption of innocence must prevail.” It added: “There can be no further comment until this matter has been clarified by the Civil Authorities. I ask you for your prayers for all concerned. I have appointed Fr Martin Delaney Administrator of the parish of Mooncoin and he will take up duties with immediate effect.”

In a number of churches throughout the diocese priests asked the congregation to pray for Fr Muldowney.

Fr Muldowney is from Kilmanagh in County Kilkenny and was ordained in 1984.