Colleagues of an Irish priest shot dead in the southern Philippines have described him as a very brave man. Columban priest, Father Rufus Halley, who is from Waterford, was 57 years old and had been in the Philippines with the order since 1969.

He was killed while riding his motorbike between his parish and a neighbouring parish in the province of Lanao del Sur on the island of Mindanao. He was ambushed and shot dead by four masked men.

It is not known who shot him or what the motive for his killing may have been. However, fellow Columban, Fr Colm McKeating, said that Fr Halley had worked to bring Christians and Muslims closer together.

He is the second Columban priest to be killed in Mindanao. Fr Martin Dempsey was killed in the same area almost 30 years ago.

Father Halley is originally from Ballybricken just outside Waterford City. He is survived by his 81-year-old mother, Imelda, as well as four brothers and one sister.

The Columban fathers said that he would be buried in the Philippines. The funeral arrangements have not yet been finalised.