Northern Ireland news

Dissident bishop Pat Buckley rebuked for extraordinary blog attack on social workers

Self-styled bishop Pat Buckley pictured in his Ortory in Larne. Picture by Hugh Russell

DISSIDENT bishop Pat Buckley has been rebuked for an extraordinary attack on social workers in an online blog.

Citing two cases he claims to have assisted with, the Larne-based former Catholic cleric lambasted members of the profession in highly inflammatory terms.

Saying they needed to be "avoided at all costs", he included the joke: "Q: What's the difference between a social worker and a Rottweiler? A: You'll get you child back from a Rottweiler".

"I get the impression that most social workers are really screwed up individuals, unhappy, miserable, people hating and get an unhealthy pleasure from hurting vulnerable people," he concluded.

Former Alliance leader and justice minister David Ford dismissed the comments and said the profession is tightly regulated.

"As a former social worker I'm well aware that decisions taken are not always correct but I entirely refute any suggestion that decisions are taken as a result of malice or inadequacy on the part of social workers.

"Balancing decisions with difficult cases, for example child care or mental health is never exact, but social workers are subject to the supervision of their authorities and in many cases the courts to ensure that the best possible decisions are taken."

In 2013, Rev Buckley escaped, due to ill-health, a three-and-a-half year prison sentence for accepting money from criminals to officiate at the sham marriages of illegal immigrants.

He was paid £350 for overseeing ceremonies involving couples who had met only hours earlier and then separated immediately afterwards.

They were non-EU residents marrying citizens from one of the member states to acquire rights to stay there. The sentencing marked the culmination of a police investigation into systematic abuse spanning three continents.

In 2009, Rev Buckley asked the Land Registry for squatters' rights to the Larne presbytery, where members of his Oratory congregation gather to worship. A settlement over the presbytery was reached in 2012.

The rebel cleric, who conducts same-sex blessings, entered into a civil partnership with his younger partner, Eduardo Yango in 2010.

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