The Police Service of Northern Ireland has set up a team within its public protection branch to investigate the circumstances of abuse committed by Fr Malachy Finnegan, former president of St Colman's College, Newry, and parish priest at Clonduff. The priest died in 2002.
In a statement last night the PSNI said as Fr Finnegan could no longer be held accountable, they wished to do the following: “Establish and take action against any living offender from that time and, importantly, assess if there are any current child-safeguarding risks. Determine if there was any other abuse of children committed by any other person, other than Fr Finnegan, at St Colman’s College when Fr Finnegan worked there between the mid/late 1960s to the mid/late 1980s.
“Establish whether there are any lessons to be learned from the way in which authorities acted to safeguard children, whether collectively or individually.
“Ascertain when any authority first became aware of Fr Finnegan’s offending behaviour; what action was taken to ensure adequate safeguarding was implemented; and what information, if any, about his offending was reported to the police service at that time.”
The police appealed to anyone “abused by Fr Malachy Finnegan, or abused by any other person at St Colman’s between 1967 and 1987” to contact the PSNI or by calling the non-emergency 101 number.
Meanwhile, it was announced yesterday the resignation of Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey has been accepted by Pope Francis and retired bishop of Raphoe Philip Boyce has been appointed administrator.