Belfast Telegraph

Victims of pervert priest to complain to watchdog claiming police inaction

Complaints are to be made to the Police Ombudsman about alleged failings by the RUC at the time to investigate reports of sexual abuse in 1996, it has been reported.

Father Malachy Finnegan, a former teacher of St Coleman's College in Newry, was accused of sexual abuse by 12 people. The BBC reported that police had been alerted to the allegations in 1996 but failed to interview the priest who died in 2002.

The Diocese of Dromore said it had been aware of the 12 allegations against the former teacher, but Finnegan was never prosecuted. The first allegation against Father Finnegan came to light in 1994 when the Bishop of Dromore provided pastoral support to one of the victims. The second allegation came in 1998.

There were no further allegations until after his death in January 2002.

The Police Ombudsman said it had been notified complaints will be made against the police service.

“We have received notification from solicitors acting on behalf of five victims that a complaint will be made to the Police Ombudsman’s Office later this week," a spokesman added.

The diocese reached a settlement with victims in October 2017, although details have only just emerged. A joint statement from the St Colman's board of governors yesterday condemned the abuse inflicted on pupils by Finnegan.

The school has since ordered all images of Finnegan to be removed.

Bishop of Dromore Dr John McAreavey said Finnegan's actions were "abhorrent, inexcusable and indefensible".

The disgraced cleric was college president at St Colman's for 11 years before being transferred to Clonduff as parish priest in January 1988.

Bishop McAreavey said the first allegations against him came in 1994, a year before his retirement.

A second allegation emerged in 1998, but was not related to his time in St Colman's. All other complaints emerged after his death in January 2002.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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