Northern Ireland

Victims call for removal of mosaic to Bishop Brooks

Paedophile priest Fr Malachy Finegan.
Paedophile priest Fr Malachy Finegan. Paedophile priest Fr Malachy Finegan.

VICTIMS of Malachy Finegan want a 'Coat of Arms' mosaic tribute to Bishop Francis Brooks removed from Newry Cathedral over claims he failed to take action against the paedophile priest.

Victims have also asked for images of Bishop Brooks to be removed from photographs displayed in St Colman's College where he was principal prior to Finegan taking over in 1976.

At least 12 young boys were sexually abused by Finegan while he taught at St Colman's between 1967 and 1987. Many more were physically abused by the priest.

He went on to carry out further serious sexual abuse while he was parish priest in Hilltown in the early 1990s.

Bishop Brooks – who passed away in September 2010, sent Finegan to England for ‘treatment’ in 1994 instead of reporting him to police after being informed of the abuse.

One of Finegan's victims, who did not want to be named, said he told Bishop Brooks in 1985 he had been abused by the notorious paedophile, but that the bishop failed to notify authorities or take any internal church action.

Instead, he said Brooks offered him a trip to Lourdes to be "healed".

"I haven’t been to the cathedral since the renovation works have been done, I can't," the man said.

"I told Bishop Brooks in 1985 about the childhood sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of Malachy Finegan over many years and he did nothing to stop him.

"If he was alive now, he would and should be part of the police investigation as he failed me and many others, but instead he is honoured in this ornate way."

He is one of a number of victims seeking the removal of the mosaic from the cathedral. Sean Faloon, who bravely waived his right to anonymity last year, said he was also pressing for the mosaic to be removed.

"I am absolutely horrified, to know that there's a mosaic in the Newry Cathedral honouring Brooks and I agree that it should been taken down, it's sickening really.

"Photographs taken after Bishop Brooks was aware of the abuse should also have been removed from public areas without the church having to be asked, surely they should know that public displays linked to him are going to cause offence", Mr Faloon added.

The Diocese of Dromore did not respond to requests for comment.