Priest investigated but not charged to retire from public ministry

Fr Paul Symonds outside the Church of Our Lady in the Harryville area of Ballymena
Staff Reporter

A PRIEST who faced a police investigation but was not charged is to retire from public ministry.

Fr Paul Symonds (71) stepped aside from ministry in Co Antrim in 2009 after "concerns of a safeguarding nature" were raised against him.

It is understood he was investigated by Lancashire police following an allegation dating back to the 1970s.

After prosecutors said he would not be charged with any offence, the Church's own internal canonical inquiry resumed.

In a statement on Friday night, the Diocese of Down and Connor said this had "reached the decision that Fr Paul Symonds will live as a retired priest without any public ministry".

Fr Symonds, who is originally from London, was awarded an OBE in 2008 for cross-community work in his Ballymena parish, where the church in Harryville came under attack from loyalists.

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