Northern Ireland

Father Martin McVeigh in 'indecent images' row issues statement

Father Martin McVeigh
Image caption Father Martin McVeigh said he had no knowledge of the images

A Catholic priest who "inadvertently" showed pornographic pictures during a presentation at a primary school in County Tyrone has released a statement in his church bulletin.

Father Martin McVeigh projected the images onto a screen during a meeting for parents in Pomeroy in preparation for First Holy Communion on 26 March.

One child was present. Parents said 16 indecent images of men were displayed.

The priest said he had no knowledge of the offending imagery.

The incident occurred during a meeting at St Mary's School in Pomeroy.

In a statement which was published in the weekend church bulletin, Fr McVeigh said he had asked Cardinal Sean Brady to allow him to leave the parish of Pomeroy and to take sabbatical leave.

He said the last month had been "the most difficult of my life".

"I deeply regret my failure to check, in advance, my presentation," he added.

The priest explained how he had immediately removed the memory stick from the laptop.

"In my shock and upset and in my concern to ensure that the images would never be shown again, I destroyed it later that evening," he added.

Fr McVeigh reiterated his innocence and said he recognised the incident "was very serious in nature" and had "caused much anxiety and distress".

"I apologise unreservedly for the hurt caused," he said.

"I want to assure you however, that I was not responsible for the presence of the offending images and in this respect I ask you to accept my innocence."

Cardinal Brady said he had agreed to the request for leave on the understanding that Fr McVeigh would return to the diocese.

He said the diocese would now work to ensure that procedures and policies were put in place for the proper monitoring and use of computers in parishes.

Cardinal Brady also explained that there had been an investigation into the computers used by Fr McVeigh.

"These have been forensically examined by an independent technical expert and no inappropriate imagery has been found," he said.

"However an additional laptop, which was located in the sacristy, was stolen in the period following the 26 March meeting with parents.

"This stolen laptop did not form part the technical examination and its theft was reported to the PSNI."

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