A Catholic priest at the centre of an alleged affair scandal has returned to ministry, the church has confirmed.
Fr Ciaran Dallat is expected to take up a new appointment after Easter, according to the Diocese of Down and Connor.
A spokesman said: “In March 2015, Fr Ciaran Dallat voluntarily stepped aside from ministry to undertake a time of reparation, spiritual guidance and counselling. At that time, he expressed the hope that with support he would be able to resume the exercise of priestly ministry.
“Diocese of Down and Connor can confirm that, following the renewal of his commitments of priestly ministry, annually celebrated by all diocesan clergy during the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday (24 March 2016), Fr Ciaran Dallat resumed his priestly ministry within the Diocese; taking up a new appointment in due course after Easter.
“Fr Ciaran Dallat takes this opportunity to again sincerely apologise to everyone for the hurt and distress that his actions have caused and he affirms that he is committed to serving God and the people of the Diocese of Down and Connor.”
Claims were made in a newspaper last year that Fr Dallat, from St Peter’s Cathedral in West Belfast, broke his vow of celibacy and had been in a relationship with a 49-year-old woman.
At the time, Fr Dallat, originally from Ballycastle in Co Antrim, said that he would undertake a retreat “in an effort to repair the damage and hurt that I have caused”.
Parishioners held rallies vigils to show their support of the popular cleric.