Northern Ireland

Malachy Finegan victim says Catholic Church must be transparent as he calls on Archbishop to resign

Sean Faloon with previously unpublished Catholic Church documents. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Sean Faloon with previously unpublished Catholic Church documents. Picture by Hugh Russell. Sean Faloon with previously unpublished Catholic Church documents. Picture by Hugh Russell.

A VICTIM of clerical abuse has called on Archbishop Eamon Martin to resign, accusing him of a lack of “transparency”.

Sean Faloon made the call after meeting the Catholic primate about the case of former priest Malachy Finegan last month.

From Hilltown in Co Down, Mr Faloon (41) has previously revealed how his abuse began with hugging and kissing after Mass.

Her was later raped and abused by Finegan, pictured, who died in 2002, over a seven-year period from 1990 to 1997.

Malachy Finegan
Malachy Finegan Malachy Finegan

Details of the abuse came to light when Mr Faloon, who was aged 17 at the time, told his GP.

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

In 2006 he settled an action against the Diocese of Dromore for a six-figure sum.

When details of Finegan’s abuse emerged he was sent to a Church-run treatment centre, Our Lady of Victory, at Stroud in Gloucestershire.

He visited the centre several times over an 18-month period between 1994 and 1996.

Mr Faloon launched a second round of legal action against the diocese and the Order of the Servants of the Paraclete in 2021 over their alleged failure to alert police and social services about Finegan after he was sent to the treatment centre.

He claims a Church-held document, which has never been made public, reveals Finegan was “at high risk of acting out” and should be brought into the “treatment centre as an in-patient immediately”.

Finegan, who also taught and worked at St Colman’s College, Newry from 1967 to 1987 and was president for a decade, was allowed to return to Co Down and resumed his abuse of Mr Faloon.

Mr Faloon said that during his meeting with Archbishop Martin he emphasised the need for the Church to be open about the information it holds.

“I reminded him about transparency being discussed at the Vatican summit in 2019, he was there.

“I reminded Dr Martin clearly on Monday about the day spent on transparency.

“Withholding this information is not transparent. Other survivors need to be made aware that this information is available.

“It was withheld from my case in 2006.”

He added: “Really what he needs to do is remove the secrecy and allow justice to prevail.

“Removing the secrecy is transparent.”

Mr Faloon also accused Archbishop Martin of “victim blaming”.

He said he explained that when he was aged 17 he visited an RUC station in Newry to report Finegan’s crimes.

At the time police told the teenager they couldn’t take the case any further because they needed consent from his parents.

He claims that during the conversation with Archbishop Martin he asked why former Bishop of Dromore Dr John McAreavey hadn’t followed up with police in later years.

He claims Archbishop Martin, pictured, replied by asking him why he hadn’t returned to police when he turned 18 – an age where he didn’t need parental consent.

“The onus was put on me to go back to the police six months later – that’s victim blaming,” he said.

“I think he should resign.”

Archbishop Martin said: “I am always anxious to support survivors of abuse.

“I have had many pastoral meetings to listen to survivors who have suffered so grievously.

“Victims of abuse are certainly not to blame for the horrific and criminal acts of abuse that were inflicted on them when they were innocent children.

“It would be inappropriate for me to comment on particular pastoral meetings which I have with survivors of abuse.”