Northern Ireland

Malachy Finegan abuse victim secures £400,000 settlement

Malachy Finegan
Malachy Finegan

A Co Down man who was abused by a paedophile priest has received a £400,000 settlement.

The 51-year-old, who wants to remain anonymous, was abused by the late Malachy Finegan over a three-year period in the mid-1980s when he was a student at St Colman’s College in Newry.

His legal team, KRW Law, told The Irish News that it is believed to be the biggest ever settlement for a victim of abuse by Finegan.

The priest, who died in 2002, taught and worked at St Colman's College from 1967 to 1987, spending the last decade as the school's president.

He was accused of a long campaign of child sexual abuse but never prosecuted or questioned by police about claims made against him.

Apprentice solicitor Owen Winters said his client issued proceedings against the Diocese of Dromore alleging assault, battery and trespass to the person.

The case began around two years ago and was due for hearing later this year, but after intensive discussions and negotiations, the parties reached a resolution.

Read more:

  • Malachy Finegan victim says Catholic Church must be transparent as he calls on Archbishop to resign
  • Man abused by Malachy Finegan to receive £150,000 in damages
  • Victim of paedophile priest Malachy Finegan says 'part of my childhood had just been eliminated'

The case was settled without any admission of liability.

Speaking after the High Court case settled, Mr Winters said: "We have heard so many deeply upsetting narratives from Finegan abuse victims and survivors over the recent past it is hard to believe those accounts could get any worse.

"But in this particular case the details of the suffering endured by this man reached a new level."

This included repeated abuse by Finegan during school hours. 

"He has had a very traumatic journey to get to this point in his life," he added.

"He has chosen to keep his anonymity, but at some point when the time is right he may think about going public on his plight.

"That is a deeply personal decision and given the ordeal he was put through as a child he needs some time and space to make that decision.

"He recognises the need to guard against complacency when it comes to exposing historic clerical abuse and for the wider community to be reminded about just how awful it is for Finegan to have escaped detection and prosecution."

The Diocese of Dromore said: "Respecting the wishes of the victim to anonymity, the diocese does not comment on the particulars of the case."