The Belfast priest who wears a bullet proof vest

Fr Gary Donegan says he works as an intermediary and has helped to 'commute sentences' for other people

Fr Gary Donegan, Belfast, bullet proof vest, shooting, Michael McGibbon, Holy Cross, Ardoyne

Image via @garynewtown1 on Twitter

A priest who works as an intermediary in the Ardoyne area of Northern Ireland says he carries a bullet proof vest with him.

Fr Gary Donegan is rector of the Holy Cross Church, and says it is "a reality of the nature of the work that I do".

It comes after 33-year-old taxi driver Michael McGibbon died after being shot in a so-called 'punishment shooting' in Belfast last Friday.

Another man, aged in his 20s, was shot in Co Derry on Monday night. He suffered two wounds to his legs and is said to be in a critical condition in hospital.

Fr Donegan says he has helped to 'commute' sentences for other people in the area.

"I got a death threat lifted off a young man who had cancer, but he has an addiction issue as well. He's on morphine and he's mixing - and he ran foul of these guys", he told the Pat Kenny Show here on Newstalk.

"Sometimes in situations they need an intermediary or something out there, so they need me - obviously I don't need them - and only eight weeks ago I received a black eye from one of them for challenging them".

"The reality is I work where I work, I take the risks that I take - but I'm not Dougal out of 'Fr Ted', I don't do daft things".

"But at the end of the day you either choose to be there or not".

Fr Donegan says hundreds of people turned out for a vigil for Mr McGibbon.