Northern Ireland

Former St Colman's pupil tells how Fr Malachy Finegan attacked him in school chapel

Fr Malachy Finegan, who died in 2002, beat Anthony Kieran (inset), who was 11-years-old at the time 
Fr Malachy Finegan, who died in 2002, beat Anthony Kieran (inset), who was 11-years-old at the time 

A former boarder at St Colman's College has told how Fr Malachy Finegan attacked him in a chapel on the school grounds when he was just 11 years old.

Anthony Kieran, originally from south Armagh, was a pupil at the Newry grammar school from 1981 until 1987.

Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey resigned last week after it emerged he concelebrated Mass in 2000 with Fr Finegan despite knowing he was a paedophile.

Mr Kieran, who is married with two children, said he experienced a savage beating at the hands of the priest within his first few months at the school.

"I was 11 years old, about 5ft tall and weighed less than 6 stone," he said.

"I had my back to the wall and was lightly tapping the wall with my shoe heels.

"Suddenly, I heard a roar and the crowd of boys standing outside the chapel parted to let a ranting, fuming Finegan through.

"I looked up to see his open hand come down on my face full belt and immediately knock me to the floor."

Mr Kieran said the priest "picked me up like a rag doll and hammered me until I fell onto the ground, picking me up off the floor each time to beat me further".

"All the time, he was shouting 'Would you kick your own house? Well you'll not kick the house of God'.

"I was too small to defend myself and I knew better to even try."

He said around 50 fellow students witnessed this beating which left him bruised and in severe pain.

"They knew better than to try to rescue me. He was not a man to confront."

Originally from Crossmaglen, Mr Kieran said at the time he didn't even consider reporting Finegan, who died in 2002.

"He was the president, so I would have been reporting him to himself.

"I feel extremely lucky that I did not suffer any sexual abuse at his hands but as first year boarders, we were aware that something was going on.

"There were whispers among the boys about being taken to his room to watch TV.

"My only motivation for speaking out now is to let other victims know they are both brave and believed.

"I was one of the lucky ones, I only experienced violence, it certainly wasn't on par with what other boys went through."

Read more:Victims' lawyer Kevin Winters recalls own 'unsettling' experience of paedophile Fr Malachy Finegan

Priest in charge of Dromore diocese is former head of school where Malachy Finegan abused pupils