Victims of Fr Finnegan urged to come forward

Bishop John McAreavey
Bishop John McAreavey

Victims of paedophile priest Malachy Finnegan have been urged to come forward after the Diocese of Dromore revealed it was aware of 12 allegations against the former teacher.

Hundreds of boys from Lurgan and the vicinity travelled daily to St Colman’s College in Newry to attend school during the period in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s when Fr Finnegan taught and was President.

Last week parents at four Co Down primary schools have said they do not want the Bishop of Dromore, Dr John McAreavey to officiate at their children’s confirmation after he said Requiem Mass for Finnegan. Bishop McAreavey admitted earlier this month that he had made an “error” by officiating at Finnegan’s funeral in 2002. He described the former teacher’s actions as “abhorrent, inexcusable and indefensible”.

It had been revealed recently that the Diocese of Dromore had settled a claim for sex abuse by Finnegan, who was accused of abusing pupils at St Colman’s College in Newry.

The diocese said it was aware of 12 allegations against the former teacher, who worked at the school from 1967 to 1976. Finnegan was never prosecuted. The first allegation against him came to light in 1994, with the then Fr McAreavey providing pastoral support to the victim, according to the Irish News.

It is understood that he was asked during the meeting in Newry if he would be resign following his decision to speak at Finnegan’s funeral. It is believed that the bishop will make a decision about his role in the confirmations in the coming weeks.

It is also understood that one victim of Fr Finnegan secured what is thought to be the biggest ever pay-out in a historical abuse case in Northern Ireland.