KRW LAW LLP is instructed by five victims of paedophile priest and former president of St Colman’s College Newry Malachy Finnegan.  In October 2017 a case was settled by an individual against the Diocese of Dromore and St Colman’s College Newry, believed to be the highest agreed award in this jurisdiction in a historical sexual abuse case.


Background – Malachy


Malachy Finnegan was ordained in June 1953 and died in January 2002.  He went on to become a teacher at St Colman’s College Newry (where he himself was educated) from September 1967 and later became president at the college in 1976.  He was employed by the college for a period of some 15 years.  He abused young children throughout his tenure in the most gross and violent and indecent manner.  He has ruined the lives of many during three decades of abusing.  The Church have confirmed in recent press release following receipt of notification of a Spotlight Documentary that they were aware of 12 allegations of child sex abuse regarding Finnegan.  Since the recent significant settlement of a case on behalf of one of our clients and subsequent media attention, further victims and survivors of Malachy Finnegan have contacted KRW LAW.


Alarming Developments


In 1994 the then Bishop of Dromore, Francis Brooks, was advised of allegation of abuse and asked the current Bishop of Dromore to assist in a pastoral capacity.


Malachy Finnegan was then secretly sent to a centre for the treatment of paedophile priests in England.  This was just two months after the Brendan Smith scandal had become public.


Our clients are outraged that in that this high alert period following public outcry regarding child protection in the Catholic Church, the Church allowed this man to return to Hilltown as their Parish Priest.


KRW LAW LLP have been advised that the current Parish Priest announced at Mass on Sunday 25th February 2017 in Hilltown that given what had he would  no longer be staying at the parochial house at night in light of what has happened there including the rape of at least one boy.


There are further allegations regarding the PSNI failure to investigate Malachy Finnegan in the 1990s

Why was Malachy Finnegan never arrested or questioned regarding his crimes against children? A number of complaints were received by the police from victims of Malachy Finnegan. The police in Newry were made aware of allegations against him. A victim made an allegation to PSNI in 1996 but they failed to interview the priest despite him still being alive. Police were made aware that the priest was still alive and performing ministry in the vicinity and that he had abused this victim over a number of years.  The PSNI are incorrectly referring to this complaint as ‘historic’ despite the fact that the allegation of statutory rape was made only months after the commission of the offence.


The alarming questions that must be asked of the PSNI and the Diocese of Dromore refer to the other allegations regarding Malachy Finnegan’s activities.


The concern of our clients is that the police were either negligent in their duty to victims and survivors or vulnerable children or they have facilitated the Catholic Church in a continued cover-up of this priest’s criminality.  They demand that this matter to be thoroughly investigated by the Police Ombudsman for Norther Ireland.


Our clients have called for an all-encompassing public Inquiry into clerical abuse in Northern Ireland.


Evidence was provided to the police and leads were not followed up.  This priest was a prolific sex offender who was an extremely high risk to children and young adults and could have prevented from abusing further minors had he been brought to justice when the police were first made aware of the allegations. Our clients require to know the reasons for this and why this man was never brought to justice for an uninterrupted three decade reign of child sexual violence. This case has exposed the activities of yet another prolific pedophile priest whose crimes have been ignored despite causing lifelong pain and suffering to be inflicted on multiple children over an extended period of time.