Child-abusing priest was ‘protected by RUC’

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Suspicions are mounting that a former priest was allowed to sexually abuse children in return for informing against republican families in the north of Ireland.

Paedophile Malachy Finegan, who died in 2002, has been accused of a catalogue of sexual abuse, including at St Colman’s College, Newry where he taught from 1967 and served as president from 1976 to 1987.

Now a bishop who was forced to resign over the church’s own failure to take action against Finegan has asked the PSNI to say whether the priest had secretly been an informer while serving as a diocesan priest under him.

Former Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey asked the PSNI to “confirm or deny the simple allegation that Malachy Finegan was a police informant”, according to his lawyer. “We have yet to receive a response. Concealment heightens concerns.”

After Finegan left St Colmans’ College, he was appointed a parish priest in Clonduff, County Down, where he was also accused of a long campaign of child sexual abuse.

The priest was never prosecuted for sexual abuse or questioned by the RUC about the claims made against him. It is feared that he played a small part in Britain’s ‘Dirty War’ in Ireland in which innocent children were the ultimate victims.

Last month lawyer Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, revealed he had asked British Direct Julian Smith to establish an inquiry into the handling of abuse claims against the priest.

Mr Winters, who was a pupil at St Colman’s College in Newry when Finegan was president of the school, described how the priest deployed “violence followed by a repulsive excess of affection”.

He said that “a central part” of his application for an inquiry “is the allegation that Finegan was some form of ‘protected species’ when it came to criminal inquiry into his conduct”.

He added: “For many years there was anecdotal evidence only that he was some sort of low-level informant supplying information to the police on young fellas who might have been suspected republicans.”

He revealed that “mounting suspicion was crystallised” when he was informed by letter “that on the grounds of NCND (neither confirm nor deny) the PSNI would be unable to rebut the simple allegation that Finegan was an informant”.

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