Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Ombudsman to investigate claims police failed to follow up on Finegan abuse complaint

An Ombudsman investigation has been launched to look into claims that police failed to properly deal with abuse allegations made by a former altar boy against paedophile priest Malachy Finegan more than two decades ago.

Hilltown man, Sean Faloon, waived his right to anonymity earlier this year, to reveal the abuse he endured as a 10 year old altar boy at the hands of the disgraced cleric.  The police watchdog will look into alleged failings by the then RUC to investigate the abuse allegations made by Mr Faloon in 1996.

Finegan, who died in 2002, was accused of systematically physically and sexually abusing young boys throughout his time as a teacher and President of St.Colman’s College in Newry, spanning 20 years from 1967 to 1987. He was also accused of sexual and physical abuse against boys on church premises.  

The first of a dozen abuse allegations is understood to have been reported to the Diocese of Dromore in 1994.

According to Mr Faloon, the grooming and abuse began in 1989 and continued for another eight years, only coming to light when he was 17 years old and confided in his GP.  The Hilltown man’s family and police were later informed.

The PSNI have also set up a dedicated team to investigate the circumstances of the child abuse carried out by Finegan.

KRW Law partner, Claire McKeegan, who represents several of Fr Finegan’s victims revealed that a submission was forwarded to the Police Ombudsman on behalf of 30 known victims and survivors of the paedophile priest.

“It is difficult for victims to understand how repeated offences against children occurred in an educational and institutional context, particularly these offences which are of the highest gravity, where there was complaints made as to abuse, but there seems to have been no adequate investigation addressing the abuse”, Ms McKeegan said.

“Clearly given the role that Finegan played throughout his time at St Colman’s, including as principal of the school, allegations of this nature should have been investigated promptly and thoroughly.

“Systemic clerical abuse of this nature over a long period of time has yet to be the subject of a public inquiry in Northern Ireland and nor have victims and survivors had any form of redress that offers the possibility of closure and resolution or care they so greatly need.”