Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman has criticised Catholic Church authorities for removing priests from their parishes after they have been accused of child sexual abuse.

Nuala O’Loan was speaking at a conference on justice in Croke Park in Dublin organised by the hierarchy.

Ms O'Loan said that in many cases priests against whom no evidence had been found were not allowed to return to their normal lives.

However, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said that serious concerns sometimes continued to surround the accused even though they had not been found guilty of criminal behaviour.

He said anyone with privileged access to children should step aside from their job if there were reasonable grounds for concern about child abuse.