Northern Ireland

Dromore Diocese likely will never again have a bishop at its head, commentator argues amid sale of house and land

The Bishop' House is up for sale along with the 27 acres
The Bishop' House is up for sale along with the 27 acres The Bishop' House is up for sale along with the 27 acres

Dromore Diocese will probably never have a new bishop in charge, and the sale of the prime property and lands in Newry only makes that more likely, according to one leading commentator.

But Down and Connor, also without a bishop, is a different proposition as it is so large and the man currently in charge as apostolic administrator, Bishop Donal McKeown, will turn 74 next year, Michael Kelly, the editor of the Irish Catholic, noted.

Dromore has been without a bishop since the 2018 resignation of John McAreavey in the wake of the Malachy Finegan scandal. 

Bishop John McAreavey is the former Bishop of Dromore. Picture by Colm Lenaghan, Pacemaker
Bishop John McAreavey is the former Bishop of Dromore. Picture by Colm Lenaghan, Pacemaker Bishop John McAreavey is the former Bishop of Dromore. Picture by Colm Lenaghan, Pacemaker

It is a relatively small diocese and likely will come under the umbrella of Armagh, though without any official merge precisely because of its ongoing liabilities linked to the abuse cases, Mr Kelly argued.

However, there are those leading the diocese, while acknowledging the speculation prompted by being without a leader for more than five years, said there is still the possibility the Vatican will appoint a new bishop.

Much of the focus is on the adjoining dioceses, Armagh and Down and Connor, while there are changes in Dublin with the appointment earlier this year of a new Papal Nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Luis Mariano Montemayor. Ultimately, it is up to Rome to decide on the appointment of bishops.

In Down and Connor, there is likely to be more urgency over an appointment to the post - and it will happen, Mr Kelly said, echoing the views of those within the diocese.

Archbishop Noel Treanor only officially left the post in January of this year and it is not entirely unusual for the position to be unfilled for a year to 18 months.