Inappropriate behaviour and gay dating app claims cause Archbishop to remove priests from Maynooth
The country's largest Catholic diocese has confirmed it will not be sending any of its trainee priests to study at the national seminary in Maynooth this autumn.
Amid reports of a crisis at the Co Kildare seminary, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has now opted to send his student priests to the Irish College in Rome.
The seminary is headed up by Dubliner Monsignor Ciaran O'Carroll, who has worked closely with Dr Martin in the past.
Three trainee priests from the archdiocese of Dublin will move to the Rome this autumn to further their studies and training.
The seminarians are all at various stages in their training.
There are roughly 60 resident seminarians studying at Maynooth.
Archbishop Martin is a trustee of Maynooth along with the three other catholic archbishops in the Irish Church and a number of bishops.
"I have my own reasons for doing this," the Archbishop said.
His decision comes amid growing unease over accusations of inappropriate behaviour among some of the seminarians in Maynooth after it was claimed that some of them have, until recently, been using the gay dating app Grindr.
Maynooth has insisted that robust procedures are in place to handle such complaints against seminarians.
Playing down any link between his decision and the current crisis engulfing Maynooth, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin added that he had made his decision before allegations about inappropriate behaviour at the Co Kildare seminary had arisen.
According to the current issue of the international Catholic journal, 'The Tablet', Dr Martin said he had made the decision "some months ago" and informed the other bishops of his intention at the summer general meeting of the Irish hierarchy in June.
A second bishop is also reported to have decided to send his seminarians to Rome this autumn.
However, the Catholic Communications Office in Maynooth was unable to confirm this to the Irish Independent as the bishop is attending World Youth Day in Poland and was unavailable for comment.
The suggestion that a gay subculture exists in Maynooth first emerged in May of this year after an anonymous letter suggested seminarians and staff members at Maynooth had been using the gay dating app Grindr.
Msgr Hugh Connolly told 'The Irish Catholic' the church intended to "thoroughly deal" with any concerns regarding such behaviour.
A spokeswoman for the archdiocese of Dublin confirmed that three Dublin seminarians are Rome-bound this autumn.
Acknowledging that the number of seminarians for Dublin is down, the Archbishop stated: "What is more important for me is the quality of the men who come forward and the training that they receive."
Meanwhile, a new group called VAMA - Voices Against Maynooth Abuse - has been formed by controversial cleric, Bishop Pat Buckley, who is in a long-term gay civil partnership.
VAMA has invited current and past seminarians to reveal any 'unorthodox' behaviour they have experienced or witnessed in Maynooth.