Northern Ireland

Fr Paul Symonds: Ballymena priest to retire after Catholic Church inquiry

Fr Paul Symonds Image copyright BBC Newsline
Image caption Fr Paul Symonds was the subject of a police investigation in 2009 but was never charged with a criminal offence

A priest who was investigated but never charged after concerns were raised about the safeguarding of children is to retire after a Church inquiry.

Fr Paul Symonds stepped aside from ministry in County Antrim in 2009 to facilitate a police investigation.

After a decision was made to not to prosecute him, the Catholic Church resumed its internal inquiry.

The Down and Connor diocese said this concluded he will "live as a retired priest without any public ministry".

Fr Symonds is originally from England, but was working as a priest in Ballymena, County Antrim, when the police investigation began.

The BBC tried to contact Fr Symonds on Friday, but without success.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Diocese of Down and Connor said: "In 2011, after statutory investigation, with which the Diocese and Fr Symonds co-operated fully, and during which Fr Symonds was never charged with a criminal offence, the determination of the Prosecution Service was not to prosecute.

"Thereafter the Church's own internal canonical inquiry resumed.

"The canonical investigation has reached the decision that Fr Paul Symonds will live as a retired priest without any public ministry."

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