Northern Ireland news

Malachy Finegan victim welcomes legal action

Malachy Finegan
Connla Young

A man abused by Malachy Finegan has welcomed news that Pope Francis and Catholic Church authorities in Ireland are to face to legal action.

Sean Faloon was first targeted by the former priest as a 10-year-old alter boy.

From Hilltown in Co Down, Mr Faloon (41) has previously spoken of how his abuse began with hugging and kissing after Mass, which progressed to full sexual contact.

He said that the priest told him that if he ever told anyone about the abuse it would “ruin me for the rest of my life”.

Details of the abuse only came to light when aged 17 Mr Faloon told his GP.

His family and police were later informed, however, a formal complaint was never made.

It has now emerged that one of the priest's early victims, Barry McCourt, is to launch legal action against the Diocese of Dromore, the Archdiocese of Armagh, the Bishop of Rome and the Holy See, arising out of allegations of abuse.

Finegan has been accused of sexual abuse across Co Down, including at St Colman's College in Newry where he taught from 1967 and was president for a decade.

At least 12 young boys are thought to have been sexually abused while he was at St Colman's, while many more were physically abused.

Finegan, who died in 2002, was also a parish priest of Clonduff in Hilltown in Co Down, where it is alleged he carried out further serious sexual abuse.

In the past concerns have also been raised that he may have been an RUC informer.

In total nine people have been interviewed under caution as part of a police investigation but there has been no direction to prosecute anyone.

A Police Ombudsman investigation has also been closed.

Mr Faloon said had little confidence in authorities from the outset and has always wanted to raise the matter at the highest level within the Catholic church.

“The move now by another survivor to take the Holy See, take the Pope to court, I fully welcome it and could not possibly put any more weight behind it,” he said.

“It's big relief to me that this day has finally come.”

Solicitor Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, said previously said the outworking of a recent PSNI and Police Ombudsman investigation “has resulted in a huge loss of confidence that anything will ever be done to expose just how much the Church knew about Finegan's activities” adding that the “case is being taken in order to try and address the real disappointment and frustration felt by many who took part in the criminal inquiry”.

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