Northern Ireland

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

Solicitor Kevin Winters at his office in Belfast
Solicitor Kevin Winters at his office in Belfast

A HIGH-profile human rights lawyer whose firm represents victims of Malachy Finegan has told of his own "unsettling" experience of the paedophile priest.

Kevin Winters was a pupil at St Colman's College in Newry when Finegan was president of the grammar school.

He described an "unsettling conversation" with the priest after once being summoned to his office, which he said "resembled the inside of a fascist interrogation chamber".

Speaking to the Newry Democrat, he said: "It was pitch black, apart from a single light on his desk and an array of corporal punishment implements – instruments of torture to mind – strategically on display."

Mr Winters said he was initially asked about being on the school's football team, but then Finegan started asking "wholly inappropriate questions when I was going through puberty".

"My replies seemed to wrong foot him and the rest of his session dried up quickly after that. I retreated back to maths class."

The leading lawyer – whose Belfast-based firm KRW Law is representing five victims of Finegan – said he endured "severe corporal punishment" at St Colman's which was "the norm for Irish Catholic schools at that time".

He recalled how Finegan was violent towards him, describing how the priest deployed "violence followed by a repulsive excess of affection".

Mr Winters, who was a pupil at St Colman's between 1974 and 1981, also told how his brother was struck twice by Finegan which "felled him in front of the whole school".

"Reflecting back now I was like many other boys in the school, presented as potential targets or prey for his abuse," he said.

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