The Catholic priest who ‘inadvertently’ displayed pornographic images of men to a group of parents at a primary school in Northern Ireland is to leave the area.

Father Martin McVeigh, the parish Priest of Pomeroy in County Tyrone, announced his decision today, after official investigations into the incident proved inconclusive.

According to original reports, Fr McVeigh was due to project a powerpoint presentation to a group of parents at St Mary’s Primary School. Instead of instructions for their child’s first Holy Communion, however, parents were confronted with 16 images of gay porn.

Today, both Fr McVeigh, and the Catholic primate Cardinal Sean Brady, issued statements denying any responsibility for the images, and confirmed that they had destroyed the memory stick which contained the ‘indecent images.’ He will now leave the parish to take a break from his work, though with the understanding that he would return to the Diocese at some future date.

Fr McVeigh said in a statement published in the weekend church bulletin: “I deeply regret my failure to check, in advance, my presentation. I had no knowledge of any offending imagery existing in it. 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 statement 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.”

Cardinal Brady acknowledged in a statement the “concern and offence [caused] to those who were present”.

He added: “Since that time the diocese has undertaken an investigation into two computers in the sacristy as well as computer equipment both in the parish office and in the Parochial House used by Father McVeigh. These have been forensically examined by an independent technical expert and no inappropriate imagery has been found… However an additional laptop, which was located in the sacristy, was stolen in the period following the March 26 meeting with parents. This stolen laptop did not form part of the technical examination and its theft was reported to the [Police Service of Northern Ireland].”

Last week, some of his parishioners had issued a statement highlighting Fr McVeigh’s good works in the community, saying the priest had “helped many people through times of difficulty and sadness and many parishioners have expressed their gratitude and thanks for the help that he gave them over these times”.

The Diocese could not be reached for further information on when Fr McVeigh is likely to return to his former duties.