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Archdiocese of Armagh says it played no role in decision to allow wife-killer Dermot McArdle to remarry

A source has described the decision to allow McArdle to remarry on the same consecrated ground where Kelly-Ann rests as "hugely concerning"...

McArdle and his new bride Claire

Patrick O'Connell

THE Archdiocese of Armagh has said it played no role in the decision to allow wife-killer Dermot McArdle to remarry - in the church adjacent to the graveyard in which his first wife lies buried in her wedding dress.

In a letter to an intermediary, who is working on behalf of the family of slain Kelly Ann Corcoran, the Catholic Church’s director of communications Martin Long said weddings in the diocese are organised between the local parish priest and the couples getting married.

A copy of an emailed response to the family’s intermediary, seen by the Sunday World, said: “Thank you for your query which had been forwarded to me by the Archdiocese of Armagh.

“The many individual marriages which take place every year throughout the 61 parishes of the Archdiocese of Armagh are organised at a local parish level.

“While the Archdiocese does not comment on individual marriages, please be advised that for each marriage, the required civil, canonical and pastoral preparation is undertaken by the couple themselves in cooperation with the solemnising priest and the civil registration service.

“I trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

“With kind regards, Martin Long, Catholic Communications Office.”

Earlier, the Corcoran’s family intermediary had written to both Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin and Pope Francis asking for an explanation as to why convicted killer McArdle had been allowed remarry just 40 yards from the spot where Kelly Ann lies buried.

The horrified family had also posed a series of questions to the Church seeking clarification as to whether canon law was complied with in allowing the wedding at St Fursey's Church, co Louth.

The source described the decision to allow McArdle to remarry on the same consecrated ground where Kelly-Ann rests as "hugely concerning".

Kelly-Ann Corcoran and husband Dermot McArdle

It's understood the family are also seeking answers as to why the wedding took place in St Fursey's when the parish of Haggardstown and Blackrock also has a second church - St Oliver Plunkett's Church - which was not in use at the time of McArdle's wedding.

They have also asked for clarification on whether Canon Law dictates that a divorcee cannot remarry in a church, whereas a man convicted of killing his first wife can.

The Sunday World attempted to put some of these questions to parish priest Fr. Padraig Keenan, who celebrated McArdle's wedding to long-term partner Claire Dollard in St. Fursey's Church in Haggardstown on Friday of two weeks ago.

We approached Fr Keenan as he exited St Oliver Plunkett's Church in the aftermath of separate wedding a week later.

After our reporter identified himself, he told Fr Keenan: "I wanted to ask you some questions about the wedding you celebrated involving Dermot McArdle in St Fursey's last Friday."

Fr Keenan replied: "No!"

The priest then continued walking towards his car.

Asked if he was aware letters concerning the wedding had been sent to Archbishop Martin and Pope Francis on behalf of Corcoran family, Fr Keenan made no response.

McArdle (53) served just two years in a Spanish prison after being convicted of the manslaughter on Kelly-Ann in Marbella on the first night of a family holiday together.

He was convicted of her manslaughter in 2008 after a Spanish court found her fall from the couple's fourth-floor balcony at the five-star Melia Don Pepe Hotel had occurred as the result of a row.

The jury of nine voted by a majority of seven to two to convict the then 39-year-old Dundalk father of causing the death of his wife Kelly-Ann Corcoran during a heated argument on the evening of February 11, 2000, the day the family arrived on holiday on the Costa del Sol.

The jury found that, as the argument esca­lated, McArdle pushed his wife on the balcony of their hotel room, causing her to fall over the rails.

The jury was satisfied that the reconstruction of the fall by police and forensic experts had showed that she could not have fallen over the rail on her own as alleged by the defence.

Kelly-Ann died from her injuries two days later.

Roy Haines, an Englishman staying in the room next door, told the court that prior to Kelly-Ann fatal fall he heard a commotion that sounded like arguing.

He said he went out onto his balcony and saw a man holding a woman "above his head".

"I told him to put her down," he told the court,

"I went inside and shut the door."

Soon after, he said, he heard cries for help.

"There was nothing we could do. She was down."

Kelly-Ann's brother-in-law, Peter Moran, gave evidence that then three-year-old Mark told him on his return to Dundalk: "Daddy bold, Daddy pushed Mammy."

McArdle had claimed Kelly-Ann saw her son on the balcony and went to grab him before tripping and falling over the railing.

He said he grabbed her arm but was unable to hold her and said in his evidence "We are Catholics and we would not lie."

But the jury found against him.

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