The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Gloucestershire Constabulary are liaising with each other following fresh claims surrounding a paedophile priest from Co Down.
Fr Malachy Finegan, who died in 2002, was a teacher at St Colman’s College in Newry and the Diocese of Dromore and later went on to serve as a parish priest in Clonduff, Co Down.
He was accused of a long campaign of child sexual abuse but was never prosecuted or questioned by police about the claims.
He worked in the school from 1967 to 1987 but it is claimed he abused children in later years during his time as a priest.
Now it is claimed there were failings by several individuals in disclosing further allegations against him while he was being offered “therapy in a spiritual context” in a facility in England.
In 1995, Finegan was a patient at Our Lady of Victory treatment centre for sex offenders in Gloucestershire which treated some 1,800 clerics before it closed in 2004.
The centre, which was run by an American order, the Servants of the Paraclete, was established in New Mexico in the 1940s and specialised in treatment for priests with psychological and emotional problems from the UK and Ireland.
The former priest was admitted to the centre by church authorities following allegations he had allegedly abused a minor.
It is understood Gloustershire Constabulary is now reviewing material to establish if there is a demand for a new police investigation into those individuals who allegedly failed to report their knowledge of the sexual, physical, and psychological abuse of children by Finegan over many years.
The police force has been provided with names of individuals who may be able to assist in such an investigation and they are based in Northern Ireland, the Republic, Great Britain, the USA and Italy.
It is also claimed there was no joined-up approach between PSNI and Gloucestershire Constabulary while Finegan was in England in the sharing of information and allegations.
In 2018, a bishop apologised for the abuse carried out by the priest and urged victims to go to the authorities.
Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, said in his St Patrick’s Day homily that he was worried people could be “suffering in silence”.
Speaking at St Brigid’s Church, Rosenallis, Co Laois, Bishop Nulty confirmed that Finegan had also served in his diocese.
He said: “The joy and enthusiasm of family life that I meet every day on my confirmation journey contrasts very sharply with the hurt and betrayal of survivors who may have suffered or continue to suffer from the corrupting and abusive actions of the late Father Malachy Finegan, a priest of the Diocese of Dromore.
“Fr Finegan worked here in Rosenallis as a newly ordained priest from 1953 to 1956.
“While he died in 2002, I am very aware that the evil that abusers do lives on, long after they themselves have died.
“As a bishop, I am deeply ashamed that a priest would inflict such evil and criminal abuse on a child.”
Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin is expected to support a call for an inquiry into allegations of historical sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
It was revealed in September how the leader of the Irish Catholic Church is in favour of an investigation, on both sides of the Border, into how the institution handled allegations of abuse by priests such as Finegan.
Earlier this year Archbishop Martin apologised to a man abused for years by the paedophile priest.
In June, Tony Gribben (62) sued the trustees and board of governors at St Colman’s College and received a six-figure sum in damages.
Mr Gribben — who met Archbishop Martin — took the lawsuit over the sexual and physical assaults suffered at the hands of Finegan.
Afterwards, Archbishop Martin apologised on behalf of the church.
Outside Belfast’s High Court at the time, Mr Gribben said: “For the apology to be meaningful the church must acknowledge it was more concerned about protecting its reputation than safeguarding children from the actions of predatory paedophiles like Finegan.
“The diocese needs to be completely transparent in co-operating with a long-overdue investigation on its failings.”
In 2018 it emerged that the Diocese of Dromore had settled a claim made by one of his alleged victims.
At the time, the PSNI set up a team of detectives to investigate Finegan’s activities and nine people were said to have been interviewed under caution.