Priest resigns after '˜historic complaint' probe

A top Lurgan priest has resigned from senior roles in the Diocese of Dromore after a probe into an '˜historic complaint'.

Monsignor Aidan Hamill

Bishop of Dromore, Most Reverend John McAreavey, revealed that Monsignor Aidan Hamill has resigned as Parish Priest of St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church.

Bishop McAreavey revealed the news in a statement read out at Masses in the parish last Sunday.

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

However this week Bishop McAreavey said: “An historical complaint was made against Monsignor Hamill, a priest of this diocese, in 2014. The Diocese of Dromore followed the National Child Safeguarding policies and procedures and the statutory authorities were informed.

“Monsignor Hamill voluntarily stepped down from active ministry pending the outcome of the investigation of the complaint. He cooperated fully with the investigations.

“The Church investigations have now concluded.

“Arising from the findings of those investigations, Monsignor Hamill has resigned as the Parish Priest of St Peter’s and St Paul’s, Lurgan and as Vicar General in the Diocese of Dromore.

“As a retired priest, Monsignor Hamill will take on other duties in the diocese appropriate to a restricted ministry and his skills.

“The Church has a duty of care to protect young people and vulnerable adults and will always respond with both compassion and rigour when any allegation is made.

“Again I ask those who feel that they may have been abused in a church context to make contact with the designated person within the diocese. Contact details may be found on the diocesan website.

“When this matter first arose, I asked that you keep in your prayers all concerned. I ask you again to continue to do so.

Originally from Magheralin, Monsignor Hamill was ordained in his home parish in 1969.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “In July 2014, police in Lurgan received a report of historical abuse from a third party. The report was investigated at the time but no formal complaint was made.

“As a result, the victim was advised that an investigation could not be progressed by police until a statement of complaint was made. They were also made aware that there is no time limit regarding the reporting of any historical incident to police and that they could do so at any point in the future. The appropriate contact details were provided.

“The Police Service of Northern Ireland regards child protection as a priority and would encourage anyone with any concerns or information in relation to the sexual abuse of children, whether it is historical or ongoing, to come forward and report it to police so that it can be investigated thoroughly.

“Police were not made aware of a statement issued by the Bishop of Dromore at the weekend.”