A priest in Co Offaly has apologised after describing children who were sent to the Daingean reformatory as unwanted 'ruffians'.

Monsignor Tom Coonan, who made the remarks yesterday at a ceremony in St Joseph’s church, Ballinagar, said last night he had no recollection of using the words reported.

Ballinagar is around 10km from Daingean.

He has admitted saying that ‘not all of the boys in Daingean were angels’ but said that what happened in the religious institutions was a scandal and a blot on society and the church.

It is the second time Monsignor Coonan's comments have upset some people.

Two weeks ago, locals said he quoted an unnamed person who questioned the validity of some of the allegations made against Daingean reformatory in the Ryan Commission report on institutional child abuse.