Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

RTE clarifies Finegan hidden documents claim

RTÉ has admitted that there was no evidence to support its accusation that the Dromore Diocese withheld documents pertaining to sexual abuse carried out by paedophile priest, Fr Malachy Finegan. 

Finegan, who was a parish priest of Clonduff in Hilltown as well as a teacher and later president at St. Colman’s, has been accused of sexual and physical abuse against boys on church and school premises. He was never questioned by police or prosecuted before his death in 2002.

The Irish station reported last summer that the diocese had concealed documents from a children’s safeguarding audit. 

In February last year, Bishop of Dromore, Dr John McAreavey, resigned as Bishop of Dromore after it emerged he co-celebrated Mass with Finegan despite knowing his record of abuse, and by saying his funeral Mass.  Victims were outraged and said the bishop had compounded their suffering. 

In August, a RTÉ report claimed that the Dromore Diocese had withheld documents relating to Finegan’s sexual abuse. Last week, RTÉ released a clarification statement which said,

 “On Morning Ireland on August 16 last it was stated that the Catholic diocese of Dromore had hidden documents concerning child sexual abuse by the late Father Malachy Finegan from a child safeguarding audit led by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church. 

“RTÉ accepts that there is no evidence of such concealment by the diocese or by its then Bishop, John McAreavey, and is happy to provide this clarification.” 

The Dromore Diocese responded to the clarification saying it reiterated its original statement given in August 2018 when the allegations first emerged, “which stated that the Diocese gave access ‘to all available records and the review made reference to those files and acknowledged the work of Bishop McAreavey in the field of safeguarding’.” 

A PSNI team from the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch was established last March following the revelations about the serial child abuser to investigate the circumstances of abuse committed by Finegan in Newry and any other people connected to the leading grammar school.  So far over 30 people have contacted the special police team and officers have recorded a “significant” number of statements.  It is understood further police interviews are planned this year.