Co Louth priest cleared of abuse allegation and Priest not guilty of indecent assault

A CO Louth parish priest who stood down from ministry in August of last year following an allegation of child abuse has been cleared in an investigation by the PSNI.
Fr Oliver Brennan first heard of the allegation, which dated back over 30 years previously, shortly before the Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh Gerard Clifford arrived in Blackrock parish, Co Louth, to announce that the priest was standing aside from ministry pending an investigation.
Bishop Clifford made the announcement at Mass on Saturday, August 14th, 2010.
He told the congregation of the allegation and that Fr Brennan had agreed to stand aside pending the outcome of an investigation.
He said “the allegation has been reported to the civil authorities, and the diocese and the priest will fully co-operate with any investigation. Whilst this process is ongoing the priest is entitled to the benefit of a presumption of innocence.”
Fr Brennan said at the time that he was “absolutely innocent”.
Local people said at the time that there was “uproar and horror” at the announcement and that a group of parishioners confronted Bishop Clifford in the sacristy.
Yesterday, in a statement through his solicitors, Fr Brennan said that “the Public Prosecution Service of Northern Ireland contacted my solicitor to confirm that there is no substance or credibility to the allegations and that I have no case to answer. Therefore there will be no prosecution of any sort against me.”
He continued:”I have always refuted these false and groundless allegations. Clear in the knowledge that there was no substance to the allegations, I was determined to maintain my good name and reputation. I felt very hurt personally as well as for my family, friends and parishioners when the allegations were made.”
He had “voluntarily agreed to take administrative leave while the matter was under investigation, an investigation that has taken 15 long months. During that time I was advised not to speak publicly on the matter.”
The priest expressed gratitude “for the wonderful and continuous support and the prayerful good wishes from so many people during these difficult months. I continue to pray for the person who has made these allegations against me.”
He intended “to return to ministry in the church at the earliest possible date so that I can continue to provide for many years to come a worthwhile service to the people I have been called to serve.”
Weeks prior to the allegation being made parishioners in Blackrock threatened to refuse to help with payment of more than €1 million owed by the parish when it was announced that Fr Brennan was to be moved.
Fr Brennan also made it clear to the Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Brady that he did not want to be transferred.
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Priest not guilty of indecent assault

RETIRED priest Fr Daniel Duane was found not guilty Friday on a charge of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old girl 31 years ago.
Fr Duane put his head down on the front barrier of the dock at Courtroom 1 in Cork Circuit Criminal Court and wept as the verdict was handed down.

The jury of five women and seven men returned their unanimous verdict after 85 minutes of deliberation at the end of a four-day trial.

The complainant broke down in tears as the verdict was given. She collapsed as she left the court and was supported to her feet by friends. She was highly distressed as she left the courthouse on Washington Street.

The jury had come back into court halfway through their deliberations with a number of questions. They wanted to know the date on which the woman first made her complaint to gardaí and the date on which she ins-tructed her solicitor to make a claim for compensation.

They were told that she told the gardaí in June 2009 and instructed her solicitor in October 2009.

The woman, who is now in her mid-40s, told the jury that Fr Duane whispered to her that God would approve as he put his fingers into her vagina. The defendant totally denied this and said she had invented this story.

At one stage, while giving evidence to the court, the complainant turned directly to the accused and said: “I live with those nightmares. Look at what you have done to my life.”

Fr Duane, aged 73, was in the witness box yesterday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court where he denied indecently assaulting a female on some date between April and September 1980 at his house at the time in Belleview, Mallow.

The defendant now resides at Cecilstown, Mallow, Co Cork.

James O’Mahony, the defendant’s senior counsel, put it to the accused: “She said in the summer of 1980 you indecently assaulted her.”

Mr Duane replied: “I have no recollection of that meeting.”

Mr O’Mahony cross-examined the complainant, saying that she had told gardaí that Duane put his finger into her and that in the trial she was telling the jury it was his fingers, plural.

She replied: “No matter what way you try to twist it, at 14 he violated me, he put his fingers inside me, he changed my life. I live with those nightmares.”

Raising her voice, she turned to the defendant and said: “Look what you have done to my life.”

She continued: “He was a priest. He was the same age as my father. This shame does not belong to me. The question you are asking me is did he put one finger or two fingers inside me. He violated me.”

The defence lawyer said: “You did not say (in statement to gardaí two years ago) that he said God would approve. That is an embellishment you are adding today.”

She replied: “None of these were embellishments. No matter what way you try to turn it he did this to me in his frontroom. He changed my life forever no matter what way you want to turn or twist this.”

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