Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Former bishop backs public inquiry into Finegan child abuse

The former Bishop of Dromore, John McAreavey, has backed calls for an independent public inquiry to be carried out into alleged clerical child abuse perpetrated by paedophile priest Malachy Finegan.

Finegan, who died in 2002, has been accused of a catalogue of sexual and physical abuse against young boys at St. Colman’s College in Newry – where he was a teacher for more than 20 years and its President from 1976 to 1987 – and in the parish of Clonduff where he was appointed in 1988.

Dr. McAreavey served as bishop of the diocese from 1999 to 2018 when he stood down after it emerged he had celebrated Mass alongside Finegan in 2000, despite knowing of the allegations against him, and had officiated at Finegan’s funeral, a gesture which prompted a public apology in which he acknowledged his actions had “disturbed and upset many people”.

In a statement through his solicitor, Dr McAreavey says he “supports the calls from victims and others for Secretary of State Karen Bradley to set up an independent public inquiry into alleged cleric abuse perpetrated by Malachy Finegan”.

Last year the former president of Ireland Mary McAleese led calls for an inquiry into the church’s handling of abuse allegations, revealing her brother had been “seriously, physically, sadistically” abused by Finegan during his time as a pupil at St. Colman’s.  She said there are “huge questions” to be answered “by all the people who were involved at a senior level” in the school and the diocese about what they knew.

The allegations are the subject of a current police investigation.