A Catholic priest in Co Tyrone has apologised unreservedly after indecent images were inadvertently projected onto a screen during a meeting of parents at a primary school last month.

In a statement this afternoon, Fr Martin McVeigh said he wanted to assure parishioners in Pomeroy that he was not responsible for the presence of the offending images in his PowerPoint presentation.

The images were shown at a First Communion meeting at St Mary's Primary School on 26 March.

He said the memory of what he described as "this awful episode" would remain with him always.

“I deeply regret my failure to check, in advance, my presentation I had no knowledge of any offending imagery existing in it,” Fr McVeigh said.

“After the images were inadvertently shown, I immediately removed the memory stick from the laptop. In my shock and upset and in my concern to ensure that the images would never be shown again, I destroyed it later that evening.”

The priest added: “I appreciate that the incident was very serious in nature and caused much anxiety and distress, particularly to those who were present on the evening in question and I apologise unreservedly for the hurt caused.”

“I want to assure you, however, that I was not responsible for the presence of the offending images and in this respect I ask you to accept my innocence.”

The Archbishop of Armagh, Cardinal Seán Brady, has said he has accepted Fr McVeigh's request to take sabbatical leave on the understanding that he returns to the parish on its completion.

Cardinal Brady also said the diocese would now work to ensure that procedures and policies were put in place for the proper monitoring and use of computers in parishes.