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Disgraced priest moved to Clonduff and accused of abusing local altar boy.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Disgraced priest moved to Clonduff and accused of abusing local altar boy. thumbnailFr Malachy Finnegan was moved to Clonduff Parish in 1988 and is accused of continuing his abuse.

A HILLTOWN man who endured eight years of abuse by Fr Malachy Finnegan was told by the cleric that it was their 'secret'.

Sean Faloon was a 10-year-old altar boy when he was first abused by the disgraced priest.

Fr Finnegan, who died in 2002, was moved to Clonduff Parish in January 1988 after he was removed from St Colman's College, Newry.

Twelve victims have come forward to report abuse inflicted by the priest at the school where he taught from 1967-1976 and was later president from 1976-1987.

Mr Faloon never made a formal complaint against Fr Finnegan at the time because he felt he was "too young to deal with the hassle".

"I wanted to deal with normal 17-year-old life, " he said.

Mr Faloon says the trauma of the sexual abuse which began in 1989 makes coming home to Hilltown "too difficult".

Bishop John McAreavey, Bishop of Dromore, described the actions of the priest as "abhorrent, inexcusable and indefensible".

Meanwhile, the Board of Governors at StColman's College condemned "in the strongest possible terms the physical, sexual and emotional abuse inflicted by Malachy Finnegan when he was in the employment of the College over 30 years ago".

"In line with best safeguarding, care and welfare practice, the Board of Governors advises anyone who has been a victim of Malachy Finnegan's abuse to bring this to the attention of the PSNI."


Meanwhile, BBC Spotlight is preparing a documentary on Fr Finnegan and his years of child abuse from a position of authority.

In an interview with a reporter, Mr Faloon said the abuse began at the age of 10.

"He was hugging me a lot after Mass... at a later date that became kissing and it progressed from there over the next year or so to full sexual contact."


Mr Faloon said he was told by Fr Finnegan that if he ever told anyone about what he was doing it would ruin him for the rest of his life. It had to be kept a secret and Mr Faloon said he was too frightened to not do as he was told.

Mr Faloon was given assurance from his GP at the age of 17 when he disclosed what had been happening. He began to attend counselling and the police as well as his family were informed.

Mr Faloon said he raised the matter with the then Bishop of Dromore, Francis Brookes but it was put to him to end the counselling sessions as they may lead him in the wrong direction.

Following this, Bishop Brookes arranged for counselling sessions with a nun.

Mr Faloon said in the interview that the nun told him that "given time, God will forgive you".

Fr Finnegan also abused boys at StColman's College, Newry where he taught from 1967 to 1976 and was later president from 1976 to 1987.

In a press release issued last week by StColman's College, Newry, the Board of Governors condemned "in the strongest possible terms the physical, sexual and emotional abuse inflicted by Malachy Finnegan when he was in the employment of the College over 30 years ago".

Within the last year the school has removed all images of the priest from the school walls.

Twelve victims have come forward to the Diocese of Dromore and the first of these abuse allegations was reported to the diocese in 1994. They have since settled a claim with one of the victims.

Bishop John McAreavey, Bishop of Dromore, provided pastoral support to the victim at the time and described the actions of the priest as "abhorrent, inexcusable and indefensible".

In a statement, he said: "As bishop, I am conscious of the need for many victims of abuse to receive acknowledgement, an apology, counselling and indeed compensation".

The bishop said his decision to say the funeral Mass of Fr Finnegan in 2002 was wrong and that it is through the victims which he has spoken to that he realises he had made "an error of judgment".

He added: "In November 2002 a victim told me how hurt he was by this, I realised that I had made an error of judgment. It is something I regret and will not repeat.

"We speak about abuse cases as being historical but we must never lose sight of the reality that the legacy of abuse lives on for victims and for them it is all too present. I ask you to pray for them and their families."

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