‘Payout’ priest Fr Andrew McCloskey now in France

A former Derry-based priest who paid out on a sex abuse claim is living and teaching in France, where he has been banned from active ministry, it has emerged.

Fr Andrew McCloskey paid out £19,000 in 2005 to a man who claimed he had been sexually assaulted by him as an 18 year-old in the parochial house of St Mary’s Church in Creggan in 1992.

It was revealed that Fr McCloskey was appointed to a Church counselling service for victims of sexual abuse by then Bishop of Derry, Seamus Hegarty, after the allegations surfaced.

On leaving leaving Dungiven in early 2005, Fr McCloskey said he had an alcohol problem but hadn’t taken a drink since 1992.

He also served in Creggan and Drumsurn.

Media reports in recent days said Fr McCloskey is teaching adults English in Nice.

Church authorities said McCloskey has “no permission to exercise ministry, which includes the celebration of public Mass.”

In a statement, the Derry Diocese said the church and civil authorities in France are aware of the allegations made against Fr McCloskey.

“Fr McCloskey has been on leave of absence since March 2005 and is not in sacred ministry. Some years ago, the Diocese of Derry contacted the diocesan authorities in Nice, where Fr McCloskey resides, making them aware of Fr McCloskey’s residence in the diocese, the fact that he is out of ministry and of the circumstances of his leave of absence.”