Victim of Malachy Finegan to launch legal action against Pope and Catholic authorities in Ireland

By Connla Young
Irish News
September 21, 2020

Father Malachy Finegan

A victim of Malachy Finegan is to launch legal action against Pope Francis and Catholic Church authorities in Ireland.

The priest has been accused of sexual abuse across Co Down, including at St Colman's College in Newry where he taught from 1967 and was president for a decade.

At least 12 young boys are thought to have been sexually abused while he was at St Colman’s, while many more were physically abused.

Finegan, who died in 2002, was also a parish priest of Clonduff in Hilltown in Co Down, where it is alleged he carried out further serious sexual abuse.

Concerns have also been raised that he may have been an RUC informer.

It emerged last year that the Public Prosecution Service had decided not to prosecute in eight cases following a police investigation linked to the activities of the former cleric.

The Irish News has now learned that one of his victims is to launch legal action against the Diocese of Dromore, the Archdiocese of Armagh, the Bishop of Rome and the Holy See, arising out of allegations of abuse.

Solicitor Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, said the outworking of a PSNI and Police Ombudsman investigation “has resulted in a huge loss of confidence that anything will ever be done to expose just how much the Church knew about Finegan’s activities”.

The solicitor revealed that he is “in ongoing communication with the PSNI on a number of issues arising from the investigation".

Last year Catholic church authorities said a mosaic tribute to Bishop Francis Brooks, who died in 2010, was to be removed from Newry Cathedral following criticism of his handling of Finegan.

Images of the bishop, which were displayed in St Colman's College where he was principal prior to Finegan taking over in 1976, were also removed.

Mr Winters said the response doesn't go far enough.

“Removing photographs from walls and digging up mosaics are mere token gestures which go nowhere near remedying the justice deficit here,” he said.

“This case is being taken in order to try and address the real disappointment and frustration felt by many who took part in the criminal inquiry.”

The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, has previously apologised “unreservedly for the hurt and damage caused to victims by Fr Finegan, or any other priest or church representative”.


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