A priest based in Co Antrim has been instructed not to minister in public following an internal church investigation into concerns that he had abused a child.

A statement from the diocese of Down and Connor says that in 2009 it was alerted by the civil authorities that concerns of a safeguarding nature had been raised against Fr Paul Symonds.

The statement continues that, in accordance with church policy, Father Symonds stepped aside from his role as a curate in Ballymena to facilitate a full investigation by the civil authorities.

It says the two-year investigation did not result in any criminal charges but that a resumed internal church inquiry has decided that Fr Symonds will live as a retired priest without any public ministry.

The diocesan statement concludes by advising anyone who may have a concern of a safeguarding nature to contact the PSNI, Social Services, or the Diocesan Designated Safeguarding Officer (Telephone: 028 90492783).