Page last updated at 08:59 GMT, Monday, 16 November 2009

Priest faces extradition hearing

Lough Derg
One of the offences was alleged to have happened at Lough Derg

An elderly Irish priest is facing an extradition hearing in the US later over allegations of child sex abuse.

Father Francis Markey, 81, was arrested by US marshals at his home in South Bend, Indiana, last week.

He is wanted by Irish police for questioning about the alleged raping of a 15-year-old boy in the 1960s.

He is in custody in America after appearing in court. The offences allegedly took place at Lough Derg in County Donegal and in County Galway.

A lawyer for the priest said the clergyman moved to the South Bend area in 1990 to take a job counselling drug and alcohol abusers.

The Community Healing Centre in Niles, Michigan, said Fr Markey worked there from 2001 until retiring in March.

A spokesman for the Catholic diocese of Clogher said the gardaí were informed in 1973 that Father Markey was in need of treatment after allegedly abusing a child.

His arrest in America was on foot of a warrant issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions 18 months ago.

At the hearing last week the court heard that the allegations were made in 2006, over 38 years after the incidents of abuse were said to have taken place in Lough Derg and in Co Galway.

The priest told the judge he was 'at a loss' explaining that he was in bad health, had survived a stroke and had recently fallen and hit his head.

The court heard that Irish authorities had issued warrants for Father Markey in April and May 2008 and requested that he be held without bail until the extradition request was resolved.

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