Northern Ireland news

Fr Paul Symonds: Co Antrim priest stripped of OBE

Fr Paul Symonds has been stripped of his OBE. File picture by Mal McCann
Staff Reporter

A CO Antrim priest who was investigated but never charged over child safeguarding concerns has been stripped of his OBE.

Fr Paul Symonds, originally from England, was given the award in 2007 for his cross-community work in Ballymena parish.

He stepped aside from ministry in 2009 during a police probe but was never prosecuted.

Last year, the Diocese of Down and Connor said a church inquiry had concluded that Fr Symonds would "live as a retired priest without any public ministry".

British royal honours are forfeited when Buckingham Palace feels the system has been brought into disrepute.

An official announcement, published last month, said Fr Symonds had been stripped of the honour, as agreed by Queen Elizabeth.

In a statement to the BBC, the diocese said it "has been made aware" of the queen's instructions.

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