Northern Ireland news

Man abused by Malachy Finegan to receive £150,000 in damages

Malachy Finegan

A MAN who was abused by a paedophile priest at a Co Down school is to receive £150,000 in damages.

The pay-out forms part of a settlement reached at the High Court in his claim for historic physical and sexual assaults inflicted by the late Fr Malachy Finegan.

He is also to meet the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland to be given an apology in person, and have the costs of his ongoing counselling covered under the terms of the resolution.

Now aged in his late fifties, the man sued the board of governors at St Colman's College in Newry and the Diocese of Dromore for alleged negligence and failures to protect him from Finegan.

During a five-year period in the 1970s as a boarding pupil at the school he was subjected to excessive corporal punishment, which involved being beaten and struck with canes, leather straps and wooden rods, according to his case.

Sexual assaults were also inflicted, leaving him humiliated and traumatised.

Finegan taught and worked at St Colman's College from 1967 to 1987, spending the last decade as the school's president.

The priest, who died on 2002, was accused of a long campaign of child sexual abuse but never prosecuted or questioned by police about claims made against him.

In 2018 it emerged that the Diocese of Dromore had settled a previous claim made by one of his alleged victims. At that stage the board of governors at St Colman's condemned the physical, sexual and emotional abuse inflicted by Finegan while he worked there. His image was also removed from the school's photographs.

The man who brought the latest civil action attended court with his wife on Tuesday for the announcement of the settlement.

Mr Justice McAlinden confirmed: "The defendants will pay the plaintiff the sum of £150,000 damages."

It was also disclosed that they will cover the man's legal costs and foot the bill for his counselling sessions for as long as they are considered necessary.

A further term of the resolution involves Archbishop Eamon Martin providing the plaintiff with an apology at a meeting to be held within 40 days.

Outside court the man's solicitor, Claire McKeegan, said: "Our client is relieved to draw a line on this process, following the destruction caused to his life by abuse perpetrated on him as a young child at the hands of paedophile priest Malachy Finegan."

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