Priest faces archbishop’s wrath over €430k debt

A PRIEST who described the Revenue Commissioners as “the biggest shower of bastards on the planet” after settling a near half a million euro debt is set for a crunch meeting with his archbishop on Friday.

Fr Tadhg O’Donovan from Whitechurch in Co Cork was ordered to transfer €187,447 in unpaid taxes and €246,029 in penalties and interest after failing to supply accurate income tax returns and rental income statements.

Speaking after the huge payment relating to property income between 1998 and 2002 emerged, Fr O Donovan verbally attacked the Revenue Commissioners.

In a foul-mouthed tirade, the priest claimed they were “the biggest shower of bastards on the planet”, were an “almighty shower of c***s” and had “blood on their hands” due to their approach to people.

After what was described as a “pre-scheduled meeting” on local matters yesterday morning, both Fr O’Donovan and the Diocese of Cloyne issued statements apologising for the insulting remarks.

However, despite the move, the controversial priest has still been ordered to attend a meeting with Archbishop Dermot Clifford to explain how the huge debt — which is 16 times the average priest’s salary — occurred and whether he has a future in the diocese.

“It’s my understanding he’s taken a few days’ leave but that was his own decision,” diocese spokesman Fr Jim Killeen told the Irish Examiner. “We have to have an inquiry into this. I would love to know myself where he got that much money, but it is our understanding it was from family property,” he added.

This is not the first time Fr O’Donovan has found himself in legal difficulty, after he was fined €6,000 in March 2008 by Cork District Court after being found guilty on 10 charges relating to his tax affairs.

While it is unclear whether he will face further sanctions from within the Church, Fr O’Donovan admitted yesterday his superiors had given him “a belt” after the tax issues emerged.

“What I said was in the heat of the moment and I apologise unreservedly for it,” he said.

Fr O’Donovan declined to comment further other than to claim he had been “silenced” by his diocese.


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