Priest steps aside as claim probe begins

Monsignor Aidan Hamill
Monsignor Aidan Hamill

Former Banbridge priest Monsignor Aidan Hamill has voluntarily stepped aside from his duties while a historic complaint is investigated.

The nature of the allegation has not been made known; nor has it been made known to what period of time the allegation relates.

Massgoers in the Lurgan area, where Monsignor Hamill is Parish Priest of St Peter’s and St Paul’s - were told he had stood aside from ministry and parish duties.

The Monsignor also acted up in his capacity as Vicar General of the Diocese of Dromore as the administrator when Bishop John McAreavey took a temporary break from his duties in 2012.

He is a representative of the ‘trustees’ - the owners of Catholic Schools on the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools. He is chairman of the boards of governors of two Lurgan schools - St Paul’s Junior High and St Michael’s. He has also stood aside from the CCMS.

A spokesperson confirmed Monsignor Hamill had voluntarily stood aside.

“CCMS can make no further comment while the progress is ongoing,” they said.

A statement issued on behalf of Bishop John McAreavey – Bishop of Dromore, read: “Recently I was made aware of an historical complaint against a priest of this diocese. In accordance with both national and diocesan child protection policy and procedures the relevant statutory authorities were informed.

“The matter was also reported to the designated person responsible for safeguarding procedures within the diocese. The priest against whom the allegation has been made has voluntarily stood aside from ministry and parish duties. As an independent risk assessment is now currently being carried out by Social Services it would be inappropriate to make further comment until their report is complete.

“Safeguarding the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults is of paramount concern for the Diocese of Dromore. I ask you to pray for everyone concerned.”

The PSNI said: “We do not comment on named individuals and no inference should be drawn from this.”