Fr Finegan victim ‘scared to death’

A pensioner who was abused by notorious paedophile priest Fr Malachy Finegan in the Craigavon area almost 60 years ago has spoken of the trauma caused to his life.
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The man, who only recently gathered the confidence to report the matter to police and seek legal advice, was as an altar server at Edenderry Chapel, which has since closed.

The victim, now aged in his 70s and living outside of the country, was aged approximately 11 when the abuse began in 1961.

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Malachy Finegan was ordained in June 1953 and died in January 2002.

Father Malachy FinneganPACEMAKER BELFAST  archive
Father Malachy Finnegan
PACEMAKER BELFAST archive Father Malachy Finnegan

Speaking to the Portadown Times, the man said: “The abuse first occurred in a Parochial house in Derrymacash, it was always there. It happened on at least three occasions in his house.

“I suffer flashbacks to the present day of the abuse. On the first occasion, Fr Finegan said after mass in Edenderry Chapel that he needed help at his house moving boxes. He drove to Derrymacash, collected the boxes and took me to possibly Newry to drop off the boxes. He then drove me back to Derrymacash, on the way back he proceeded to talk to me about sex and he started to abuse me. He took me back to the parochial house and abused me there.

“The second incident was more or less a repeat from the last time. The abuse happened over a three-month period. We had three priests and he would have been there every third week.

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“The third time it was after 9am mass and it was a real wet Sunday and he gave all the altar boys a lift home and he dropped some of the boys home and I was the last one and he just drove out to Derrymacash. He was very abusive. I was scared to death. I didn’t want to be near him after that. After the last incident I told my mother I did not want to be an altar boy.”

Detailing how Finegan would ensure his silence, the man explained: “After the abuse he would cool down and he would start to manipulate you. After the abuse he would have been very comforting towards you. He would have said this was all about growing up and being an adult and sex education. He would give you chocolate bars or bottles of lemonade. He tried to make you think this abuse was okay.

“I’ve suffered my whole life because of the abuse. I had a stutter for many years, and I believe that was related to Fr Finegan. It has impacted my mental health throughout my life. I didn’t have the confidence 60 years ago, but I’m not afraid of the Church anymore.”

In August of this year the Times reported how legal action had been launched by the victim against the Diocese of Dromore and the Archdiocese of Armagh.

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In a statement issued at the time, a spokesperson for the Diocese of Dromore said: “The Diocese apologises unreservedly for the hurt and damage caused to the victims by Fr Finegan. The Diocese finds such behaviour towards children and vulnerable people abhorrent and is committed to achieving and maintaining best practice in the area of safeguarding young people and vulnerable adults.”

Asked whether he accepted this apology, the man said: “I don’t accept the apology, they covered the abuse up. I couldn’t forgive the Diocese. Sixty years later they decide to apologise. At this stage in my life I’d like to say I’m very disappointed at the Catholic Church. They covered it up. They moved priests that were abusing children from parish to parish and country to country.”

Owen Beattie, Associate Solicitor of KRW LAW added: “We can confirm that we’ve issued High Court proceedings against the Archdiocese of Armagh and Diocese of Dromore for historical physical and sexual abuse perpetrated on our client by the prolific paedophile priest, Fr Malachy Finegan.

“The Catholic Church have previously confirmed that they were aware of allegations of child sex abuse perpetrated by Finegan, yet he was never interviewed or prosecuted. This is a damning indictment of the wider systemic problem within the Church and we say they are liable for the abuse and trauma suffered by our client.”

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