Belfast Telegraph

Police probing child abuse of paedophile priest report seven people to prosecutors

Pervert: Fr Malachy Finegan
Pervert: Fr Malachy Finegan
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Police investigating the late paedophile priest Malachy Finegan have reported seven other people to the Public Prosecution Service.

In March 2018 a PSNI team was established to investigate allegations of serial child abuse by Finegan over 20 years at St Colman's College in Newry.

This was expanded to include other claims of physical and sexual abuse by staff during the 1960s and 1970s and an alleged cover-up.

Finegan died in 2002 without facing justice.

He had worked as a priest in the parish of Clonduff in Hilltown, Co Down, and was teacher and later president of St Colman's.

The Newry Reporter said the PSNI has now reported seven people to the PPS, which will decide if those people will face prosecution.

The newspaper previously reported in November that former teachers at the school were interviewed voluntarily.

It is understood five of the files refer to child cruelty and two relate to non-recent sexual abuse.

A PSNI spokesperson said: "Public Protection Branch continues to investigate circumstances of abuse committed by deceased priest Fr Malachy Finegan and other persons connected to St Colman's College, Newry." The PSNI said over 30 people have contacted police in relation to the investigation and a significant number of statements have been recorded.

"A number of people have also been interviewed in respect of offences, no charges have been brought to date but seven people have been reported to the PPS," it added.

"As the investigation continues, police would continue to appeal to anyone affected by abuse to contact the Public Protection Branch on 101, the non-emergency number."

A PPS spokesperson confirmed prosecutors had received the files.

"The PSNI has been asked to make further enquires in relation to these files to enable prosecutors to consider the full available evidence," she said.

"A decision will issue in due course after the requested material has been received and carefully considered."

Many of the victims are being represented by the Belfast legal firm, Phoenix Law.

Its director Claire McKeegan told the Newry Reporter: "It is important that these matters are dealt with expeditiously to ensure the best chances of holding the perpetrators to account.

"Survivors and victims of Malachy Finegan, and those who facilitated him, deserve to see justice done.

"These people have suffered trauma right back to the 1960s.

"The onus is now on the PPS to expedite these important public interest cases because we are well aware that many are still suffering daily and many will not see justice due to the passage of time and the notable failing of the police when a survivor originally reported his allegations in 1996."

In August last year, four priests were interviewed by police in relation to the Finegan investigation.

Earlier that year the Bishop of Dromore, Dr John McAreavey, stood down after it emerged he celebrated Mass with Finegan -even though he knew him to be a paedophile.

The Newry Reporter added that a police investigation into alleged historical sexual abuse at Newry High School is still ongoing.

Two former pupils have made allegations of abuse in the 1970s.

The PSNI said the investigation is active but no further details are available at present.

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