A 79-year-old retired priest, who served in the Diocese of Derry, has been banned from celebrating Mass with members of the public.

In a statement issued on behalf of the Bishop of Derry, Most Rev Dr Donal McKeown (pictured), a spokesperson said: "Fr John Irwin is a retired priest of the Diocese of Derry.

"His exercise of priestly ministry has been restricted for some years.

"Fr Irwin is not to be engaged in any public ministry.

"Any celebration of Mass or Sacraments with members of the public present is in contravention of clear written and verbal instructions to Fr Irwin from the Bishop of Derry.

"This clarification is offered for the common good of the people of the diocese.

In 2014, Fr Irwin, from Dungiven, admitted stealing £1,440 of collection money from St. Patrick's Church in Pennyburn, Derry.

He committed the theft between May 2011 and October 2012.

He also pleaded guilty to stealing £300 belonging to the Derry Diocesan Fund.

He was given a conditional discharge for two years.

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