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Martin McVeigh, Northern Irish Priest In Gay Porn Investigation, Requests Sabbatical Leave From Church

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A Northern Irish priest who sparked a local uproar after accidentally displaying a series of X-rated gay photos to a group of parents during at a primary school meeting has asked to take a sabbatical leave from the priesthood.

As CNN is reporting, Father Martin McVeigh -- who admitted to destroying a memory stick containing "inappropriate imagery" ahead of a church investigation into the allegations -- has maintained his innocence in the case, and said he would be taking a break after describing the past month as "the most difficult" of his life.

"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 the images would never be shown again, I destroyed it later that evening," McVeigh is quoted by CNN as saying in a statement.

He continued, "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."

As the BBC reported last month, McVeigh projected 16 "indecent images of men" onto a screen as part of a Powerpoint presentation during a meeting for parents in preparation for First Holy Communion for their children at St. Mary's School in Pomeroy.

"He was visibly shaken and flustered," a parent who was present during the meeting told the BBC. "He gave no explanation or apology to the group and bolted out of the room. The co-ordinator and the teachers then continued with the presentation." The parent also noted that those who saw the pictures "were horrified and distracted."

Cardinal Brady, who called the investigation "a traumatic time for the whole parish community and for Father McVeigh personally," told CNN in a statement that he accepted had no advance knowledge of the pornography.

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