Fr Ciaran Dallat: Priest in 'affair' allegation nominated as prison chaplain

If appointed Fr Dallat will act as prison chaplain across the prison estate including at high security Maghaberry prison.

A PRIEST who was stood down from ministry following allegations of an affair with a parishioner, has been nominated by the Diocese of Down and Connor for a role as prison chaplain, to administer pastoral care to prisoners.

Fr Ciaran Dallat (52) "stepped aside" in 2015 following claims he had a two year affair with a Co Down businesswoman.

If appointed he would be the serving chaplain for all Maghaberry and Magilligan prisons as well as the detention centre at Hydebank Wood that houses both young offenders and female inmates.

A spokesman for the diocese confirmed yesterday that Fr Dallat had been "nominated" for the role. However, his appointment will depend on the Northern Ireland Office who are considering his appointment.

While the role of chaplain carries a salary of around £50,000 a year, it is believed Fr Dallat would take a wage received by other clergy, around £20,000, with the rest going to the 'welfare fund' that is distributed to priests on low incomes.

Following a leave of absence the priest made his first public appearance last month when he participated in the Chrism Mass in St Peter's Cathedral in west Belfast.

The woman at the centre of the allegations claimed she got pregnant, but later miscarried, during a relationship with Fr Dallat who then an assistant priest at St Peter's Cathedral.

The woman claimed the relationship began in September 2012 and lasted until April 2014.

Following his temporary departure last year, a group of parishioners mounted a campaign for his return and around 70 people attended two vigils demanding his reinstatement.

Following his return to public life Fr Dallat issued an apology through the diocese saying he "sincerely apologise to everyone for the hurt and distress that his actions have caused and he affirms that he is committed to serving God and the people of the Diocese of Down and Connor."

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