Northern Ireland

Diocese of Dromore issues statement about Fr Malachy Finegan investigation

Fr Malachy Finegan died in 2002
Fr Malachy Finegan died in 2002

THE Diocese of Dromore has issued a statement after it emerged that four priests have been interviewed by police in relation to the investigation into Fr Malachy Finegan.

A PSNI team is currently investigating abuse by the late cleric and whether children were abused by any other people connected to St Colman's College in Newry where he worked.

Finegan, who died in 2002, was a parish priest of Clonduff in Hilltown, Co Down as well as a teacher and later president of the grammar school between 1967 and 1987.

He has been accused of sexual and physical abuse against boys on church and school premises. He was never questioned by police or prosecuted.

The Irish News reported earlier this week that four priests had been interviewed by police in relation to the Finegan investigation and released on police bail.

In a statement, the Diocese of Dromore has confirmed that priests "engaged voluntarily with the PSNI to give interviews", but insisted that their release did not involve police bail.

"The Diocese of Dromore and its clergy have been and will continue to cooperate fully with the ongoing PSNI investigation into the late Fr Finegan," it added.

The diocese also said it "joins with Pope Francis in his expression of shame and repentance" in relation to clerical abuse scandals published in a letter to Catholics worldwide earlier this week.

"The diocese advises anyone who may have a concern of a safeguarding nature to contact the PSNI, Social Services, or the Diocesan Designated Safeguarding Officer."

A PSNI spokesperson has said only that "a number of people have been interviewed" in relation to the investigation and "further interviews are planned".

The spokesperson confirmed that all interviews are carried out under caution.