PSNI team to probe when child abuse was first reported

Fr Malachy Finnegan
Fr Malachy Finnegan

The PSNI say a team set up to investigate child sex abuse by a Catholic priest will explore “when any authority first became aware” of his offending.

The team has been set up following recent media coverage of child sex abuse carried out by Fr Malachy Finnegan, who died in 2002.

Fr Finnegan, who has been accused of abuse by at least 12 people, worked at St Colman’s College in Newry from 1967 to 1987, including a period as president of the school. He has also been accused of abusing children in later years, during his time as a priest for the Clonduff parish in Hilltown, Co Down. The full extent of Fr Finnegan’s child abuse has begun to emerge in recent months.

A police spokesperson said that, while no action can be taken against Fr Finnegan, they do aim to “establish and take action against any living offender, from that time, and importantly assess if there are any current child safeguarding risks”.

Police say they aim to “determine if there was any other abuse of children committed by any other person, other than Fr Finnegan, at St Colman’s College”.

Police also aim to “ascertain when any authority first became aware of Father Finnegan’s offending behaviour; what action was taken to ensure adequate safeguarding was implemented; and what information, if any, about his offending was reported to the police service at that time”.

The investigation team wish to speak to anyone abused by Fr Finnegan or “any other person at St Colman’s” between 1967 and 1987, via the telephone number 101.