Tuesday 19 March 2019

Bishop's pulpit apology over abusive priest

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

Shona Murray

A bishop has apologised for the abuse carried out by notorious priest Malachy Finegan and urged victims to go to the authorities.

Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, said in his St Patrick's Day homily yesterday that he was worried people could be "suffering in silence".

Speaking at St Brigid's Church, Rosenallis, Co Laois, Bishop Nulty confirmed that the paedophile priest, who died in 2002, served in his diocese.

He said: "The joy and enthusiasm of family life that I meet every day on my Confirmation journey contrasts very sharply with the hurt and betrayal of survivors who may have suffered or continue to suffer from the corrupting and abusive actions of the late Father Malachy Finegan, a priest of the Diocese of Dromore.

"Fr Finegan worked here in Rosenallis as a newly ordained priest from 1953 to 1956.

"While he died in 2002, I am very aware that the evil that abusers do lives on, long after they themselves have died.

"As a bishop, I am deeply ashamed that a priest would inflict such evil and criminal abuse on a child."

Among Finegan's victims was 'Mark' who was 15 when he was raped by him. But he said the violence and cruelty that he endured at St Colman's College in Newry started almost immediately.

"I got slapped around the head in the first week of first year," he said in an interview with the Sunday Independent.

"But what was most memorable was the fear they instilled in us from day one."

Mark wants his identity kept private for now.

Until three weeks ago, he had suppressed the trauma of this part of his life, having kept it a secret from his wife of 16 years.

His decision to open up to her was prompted by the resignation of John McAreavey as Bishop of Dromore earlier this month and also by the emergence of new cases detailing further evidence of exploitation of children by Finegan.

"I remember the day we went to McCartan Brothers clothes shop in Newry to get my uniform. I was also an avid reader. I had all these glorified notions of what boarding school would be like," Mark said.

But "the fear, the worry, the bullying, the cajoling and the extreme violence" in the name of corporal punishment became "the norm" from day one, he added.

"At the end of the first week, I told my dad I got battered for getting out of my bed and going to the toilet, or got caned with six of the best for not getting my maths right," Mark said.

"He said: 'Well, you must have deserved it'."

Finegan became president of St Colman's during Mark's third year in 1976, having been there since 1967.

At least 17 people including one woman have come forward with allegations of a wide range of abuse including serious physical and sexual assault as well as rape, at the hands of Finegan.

He was never questioned by police or prosecuted before his death.

"On one occasion, I'd been caught doing something I shouldn't have and was sent to Malachy Finegan's office for punishment," Mark told the Sunday Independent.

"I went to see him after final study; it was in the evening time, around 7 or 8.

"He waddled in; he was so large, he didn't walk, but waddled, his keys jangling away.

"He never turned the light on. He went straight to his desk where he kept a selection of canes."

Then, after caning Mark, he raped him.

Sunday Independent

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