Northern Ireland news

PSNI offers 'safeguarding measures and counselling' for alleged victims of Raymond Gallagher

Raymond Gallagher
Connla Young

THE PSNI has offered to provide "safeguarding measures and counselling" for alleged victims of suspected abuser Raymond Gallagher.

A well-known music and Irish language teacher at St Columb's College in Derry, Gallagher is believed to have died in 2007.

Details about Gallagher emerged after Derry native Terry Doran revealed earlier this year that he received a £50,000 settlement after taking a case against the college and Gallagher.

In an interview with The Irish News, Mr Doran also revealed that Mr Gallagher continued to teach at the college for years after he and his father made school authorities aware of his alleged activities in 1978.

St Columb's College is being sued by at least five people who allege they were abused by the former teacher.

Their solicitor Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, last night said he has been contacted by police offices about "safeguarding measures and counselling in relation to some recent cases involving Gallagher".

Mr Winters last night said the PSNI adopted a different approach when investigating claims about former priest Malachy Finegan, who was a teacher at Colman's College in Newry.

"It’s a positive development but I have to say it's a bit of a surprise given that there didn’t appear to be a reciprocal offer for victims and survivors of abuse in the Diocese of Dromore," he said.

"I'm curious as to why there appears to be a disconnect in the police approach to these two respective abuse sectors within the church."

Mr Winters said he wants police to examine the full context of the alleged abuse.

"For me the main thing is action on criminal investigation on systemic failures to report suspicion of sexual and other abuse to the authorities," he said.

"That was then and remains a criminal offence but very frustratingly this is still an investigative blind spot."

Mr Winters said he has been "fighting with PSNI and other agencies to try and change the approach on this," he said.

The PSNI's Detective Sergeant Cal Elliott said: “As a police service we continue to encourage victims and witnesses of sexual abuse and assault, no matter when it occurred, to report to us so that we can, where possible, launch an investigation and bring offenders before the courts to answer for their crimes.

"Any person who reports to police is signposted or provided with the details of local and national support agencies and it is their decision whether or not they wish to seek further help and support.”

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