Statement by Father Martin McVeigh
The last month has been the most of difficult in my life. I refer to the meeting of 26 March last with parents of P4/R4 in Saint Mary’s Primary School and my presentation prepared for the upcoming First Holy Communion.
I deeply regret my failure to check, in advance, my presentation. I had no knowledge of any offending imagery existing in it. After the images were inadvertently shown, I immediately removed the memory stick from the laptop. In my shock and upset, and in my concern to ensure that these images would never be shown again, I destroyed it later that evening.
I appreciate that this incident at the meeting was very serious in nature, and caused much anxiety and distress, particularly to those where were present on the evening in question and I apologise unreservedly for the hurt caused. I want to assure you, however, that I was not responsible for the presence of the offending images and in this respect I ask you to accept my innocence.
In the hope of bringing resolution and healing to the division and pain within the parish, I have taken the decision to ask Cardinal Brady to allow me to leave the parish of Pomeroy and to take sabbatical leave. The memory of this awful episode will remain with me for the rest of my life.
Finally, I again ask you for your forgiveness for all the hurt and turmoil caused. I remain committed to my priestly vocation and want you all to know that you will be foremost in my thoughts and prayers and I humbly ask for a remembrance in you.
Father Martin McVeigh
Statement by Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh
On the evening of 26 March last in Saint Mary’s Primary School, Pomeroy, Co Tyrone, the Parish Priest, Father Martin McVeigh, was about to begin a Power Point presentation for parents whose children were preparing for the sacraments. Inappropriate imagery was inadvertently shown at the beginning of this presentation. This incident caused concern and offence to those who were present.
Since that time the diocese has undertaken an investigation into two computers in the sacristy as well as computer equipment both in the parish office and in the Parochial House used by Father McVeigh. These have been forensically examined by an independent technical expert and no inappropriate imagery has been found. However an additional laptop, which was located in the sacristy, was stolen in the period following the 26 March meeting with parents. This stolen laptop did not form part of the technical examination and its theft was reported to the PSNI.
Along with Father McVeigh, I agree with the parishioners of Pomeroy that this offensive incident has caused anger and genuine concern throughout the community. I join with Father McVeigh in expressing sorrow and regret that such an incident occurred at all. With Father McVeigh I apologise especially to all present on 26 March.
This has been a traumatic time for the whole parish community and for Father McVeigh personally. He has requested a leave of absence and I have agreed to this request on the understanding that he will, on its completion, return to the diocese.
The diocese will now work to ensure that procedures and policies are put in place for the proper monitoring and use of computers in parishes and other Church environments, especially where these computers can be accessed by a number of people.
This has been a difficult experience for many people. I ask all to work together to restore the peace and good will of the community of faith in the Parish of Pomeroy.
+Seán Cardinal Brady
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