U TV [Belfast, Northern Ireland]
June 24, 2021
By Sharon O'Neill
The case of a predatory paedophile priest, Malachy Finnegan, is back in the spotlight and the handling by the Catholic Church of his repeat offending being brought into sharp focus.
One of his victims says Finnegan was nothing short of a monster, one who abused him repeatedly, even after Mass.
Anthony Gribben has recently been awarded a six-figure sum in damages and is due to meet the head of the Catholic Church, Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin.
“The issue now for me is less Finnegan, but it’s about his peers and the system which allowed Finnegan’s behaviour to continue, to destroy other youngsters’ lives,” he told UTV.
“It was in their interests to cover it up and this essentially gave licence to Finnegan to continue his dirty deeds.” — Anthony Gribben
Mr Gribben was physically and sexually assaulted by Finnegan when he was a pupil at St Colman’s College in Newry, Co Down.
He did not tell a soul for 40 years, only finally opening up to his family and then to police in 2018.
Finnegan died in 2002, never having spent a single day in jail for his crimes.
“He stole my childhood, he stole my sense of joy – I’ve never really retrieved that,” Mr Gribben said.
Finnegan taught and worked at St Colman’s College from 1967 to 1987, spending the last decade as the school’s president.
He went on to serve as a parish priest in Clonduff, Co Down.
Leading lawyer Kevin Winters also spoke to UTV about his experiences as a pupil at St Colman’s – and about Finnegan’s attempts to groom him.
He recalled being summoned to the priest’s room when he was about 13.
“On display were all the various straps and canes for corporal punishment, probably deliberately put on display,” he said.
“You sensed that something just isn’t right, being in a darkened room, asked questions that, as it transpired, were completely inappropriate.
“Had those questions been asked today of a young person, well, that person would have been arrested for grooming.”