Northern Ireland news

Mary McAleese says youngest brother was abused by Fr Malachy Finegan

Mary McAleese has told RTÉ radio her youngest brother was physically abused by Fr Malachy Finegan. Picture by Julien Behal/PA

MARY McAleese says her youngest brother was "seriously, physically, sadistically abused by Malachy Finegan" at St Colman's College in Newry.

The paedophile cleric has been accused of a catalogue of sexual and physical abuse against boys on church premises and at the school. He was never questioned by police or prosecuted and he died in 2002.

Fr Finegan worked in St Colman's from 1967 and was president of the college from 1976 to 1987.

Speaking on Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1 Mrs McAleese said her "baby brother", who will celebrate his 50th birthday next year, had been abused by the priest for the entire time he attended the school.

"My baby brother, the youngest of nine children, was seriously, physically, sadistically abused by Malachy Finegan.

"My mother, almost 90 years of age, had to discover that from the Belfast Telegraph three weeks ago."

The former president said four of her five brothers went to the school "and my wonderful, beautiful, and as you can image the youngest of a family, so incredibly loved by all of us, to think that he suffered and never felt that he could tell anyone".

She added "and it was known and, as he pointed out, so many people had to have known, so many people who were in the school had to have known".

"So many people who could have done something about it. We know now that the very first complaints about Malachy Finegan go back to the 1970s not the 1990s at all, but go back to the 1970s, which means that there's a body of information that was well known to people who were in a position to do something about it but didn't."

Dromore diocese has said the first allegation against Finegan arose in 1994, seven years after the priest left St Colman's.

Correspondence seen by The Irish News shows that then Bishop Francis Brooks was told in 1995 he was legally obliged to report allegations of abuse by Finegan to police, and the diocese has said his practice at that time was to do so.

However, the PSNI has said the Catholic Church first referred allegations about Finegan in 2006.

The Finegan controversy erupted last month after it emerged the Diocese of Dromore reached a six-figure settlement last year with one of his abuse victims.

The diocese said it had been made aware of 12 abuse allegations against Finegan, who was also the parish priest for Clonduff in Hilltown.

Dr John McAreavey announced his resignation as bishop of Dromore earlier this month after it emerged he had celebrated Mass alongside Finegan despite knowing he was a paedophile. He had previously admitted making an "error of judgment" by officiating at his funeral Mass.


  • Anyone who has been affected by abuse or is worried about a child can contact the NSPCC’s helpline 24/7 on 0808 800 5000, text 88858 or by emailing

The ChildLine service is also available to children 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0800 1111 or by visiting


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