Former Newry primary school head in court on string of child abuse charges

June 11, 2018

A former Newry Catholic school principal is to appear at Laganside Magistrates Court in Belfast today (Monday 11th June), charged with a string of historical child sex abuse charges.

Eighty two  year old Brother Paul Dunleavy, who was principal of St.Colman’s Abbey Primary School in Newry during the eighties, faces a total of 41 charges relating to his time at the school. He served as a teacher at the now closed primary school during the 1960s and 1970s before being appointed head.  

The charges, which  include 30 counts of indecent assault on a male and eight counts of gross indecency towards a child.  He is also charged with inciting gross indecency with a child on dates between October 1973 and July 1974. 

Dunleavy, whose address is given as the Christian Brothers Province Centre in Dublin, is also understood to have taught at St Aidan’s PS in Belfast.

St Colman’s Abbey PS closed and amalgamated with the former St Clare’s convent school to form St Clare’s Abbey PS in 2014.

The charges are the latest in a long line of historical child abuse claims involving clergy members to have rocked the district in recent months.  Just last month Canon Francis Brown stepped aside from public ministry whilst a police investigation is carried out into an allegation of a serious sexual assault made against him.  

The local community is also still reeling from the Fr Malachy Finnegan clerical sex abuse scandal which emerged earlier this year.  Finnegan, who died in 2002, was accused of sexually abusing children on church premises and at St Colman’s College in Newry where he was a teacher and later president.

 Allegations subsequently surfaced about a second priest, Fr Seamus Reid, who is alleged to have abused boys during confessions at St. Joseph’s Boys’ High School in Newry and the neighbouring St. Colman’s College during the 1960s.

Claire McKeegan from KRW Law in Belfast, who is representing a number of Brother Dunleavy’s alleged victims appealed to other potential victims to come forward and reiterated calls for a full public inquiry into clerical abuse in the north.