Significant 6 figure settlement against Diocese of Dromore and St Colmans College Newry on behalf of victim of abuse

KRW LAW LLP is instructed by approximately 100 victims and survivors of historical, clerical and institutional child abuse.  In October 2017 a case was settled by an individual against the Diocese of Dromore and St Colman’s College Newry.  We believe that this was the highest ever agreed award in this jurisdiction in a historical abuse case.




At the time of the events the victim (our client) was aged 11 and he was a boarding pupil at St. Colman’s College, Newry, Co. Down, a Catholic school for boys between 11 and 18 years, which was owned and managed by the Diocese of Dromore.  Our client suffered abuse of the most grave and violent sexual and emotional nature while he was a young boy and same caused him to be permanently scarred.  At this time Malachy Finnegan was a Latin teacher at the school but he was later elevated to President of the School in 1976 and held that position until 1987.  He was later appointed to Parish Priest in Dromore and later he held the position of Parish Priest in Clonduff until 1995.  He died as a Priest in good standing with all his rights to perform the functions of ordained clergy, in 2002.


The Church have confirmed 12 other allegations have been made against Malachy Finnegan regarding historical child abuse.


November 2013

The School and Diocese of Dromore were put on notice of the case that our client intended to bring regarding the abuse he suffered at St Colman’s College Newry.


May 2014

High Court proceedings commenced on behalf of our client against the Diocese of Dromore and St Colman’s College Newry.


6TH November 2017  

Trial Listed – case settled before trial, on 18th October 2017


TERMS OF SETTLEMENT – very significant


  • 6 figure sum paid to client by way of compensation
  • Removal of the large headstone marking the grave of Malachy Finnegan
  • Payment of his continuing therapy
  • A letter of acknowledgement from the Bishop of Dromore that the abuse took place and should not have taken place.
  • A meeting with the Bishop of Dromore
  • An opportunity for our client to attend at the school in an attempt to exercise his demons
  • (before this took place the photos of Malachy Finnegan were removed from the walls of the School)


ALARMING QUESTIONS – Further allegations      

  1. The alarming questions that must be asked of the PSNI and the Diocese of Dromore refer to the other allegations regarding the priest’s abusive proclivities.
  2. Why was Malachy Finnegan never arrested or referred to the PSNI to answer to his crimes?
  3. If the Church became aware in 1994 of the fact that Malachy Finnegan was a self-confessed prolific paedophile, why was there not criminal charges brought and public requests for information?
  4. Why was this self-confessed paedophile buried as a priest in good standing and remembered as such on the elaborate grave stone that was erected at his grave in his memory?
  5. Why did the Bishop of Dromore preside over his funeral given that he was aware that he was a self confessed paedophile who could have abused numerous children over a period spanning decases?
  6. Why were there still images of the abuser in the School up until October 2017 despite it being known by the School and the Diocese that he was a self confessed abuser?
  7. Why was Malachy Finnegan never reduced to the lay state? (Defrocked)?


Our clients concern, is that the Church have managed this matter in order to ensure that the truth of Malachy Finnegan’s crimes would continue to be concealed and that they (the Church) instead of prioritising Victims and their care and ensuring that they obtain truth and justice,  prioritised saving the reputation of the Church and this school.


  • No call was ever made for victims to come forward despite numerous allegations being made
  • No referral ever made regarding Malachy Finnegan’s crimes to the PSNI/PPS who only died in 2002
  • Malachy Finnegan was never reduced to the lay state.
  • Malachy Finnegan was buried as a priest in good standing with a Bishop presiding over his requiem mass.


“Our clients have called for a public Inquiry once and for all into Clerical abuse in Northern Ireland and for the Church to surrender its documents and records for the scrutiny of a judge led investigation which has the powers to get to the truth.


This case has brought to light yet another prolific paedophile priest who has went uninvestigated despite causing permanent pain and suffering on multiple children over an extended period of time.”

                                                                                                                                                Claire McKeegan KRW LAW LLP



Contact:                 Claire McKeegan     

Third Floor, The Sturgen Building
9-15 Queen Street
Belfast  BT1 6EA

Tel: 028 9024 1888
Fax: 028 9024 4804