Paedophile priest: Views sought on parochial house where abuse alleged to have happened

PACEMAKER BELFAST'Father Malachy Finnegan.
PACEMAKER BELFAST'Father Malachy Finnegan.

A Catholic parish in Co Down is asking Church-goers to have their say on the future of a parochial house where a child abuse survivor said he was abused by a paedophile priest

The Catholic Church said last year that “several parishioners” had expressed concerns about the use of Hilltown parochial house in the Clonduff parish.

Fr Malachy Finnegan

Fr Malachy Finnegan

Several allegations of sexual abuse have been against former priest Malachy Finnegan, the majority of which were made after his death in 2002.

The late Fr Finegan, a former teacher and president of St Colman’s College in Newry, had been parish priest of Clonduff during the 1990s.

Abuse survivor Sean Faloon, speaking to the BBC’s Spotlight programme early last year, described how he was abused over the course of eight years, starting in 1989 when he was 10. He described horrifying details in the interview, including abuse in the parochial house.

The Diocese of Dromore confirmed in February 2018 that it had settled a number of cases linked to Fr Finnegan.

A spokesperson for the diocese said at that time concerns that had been expressed by parishioners about the parochial house “would be addressed as a matter of priority.”

And on Sunday, the Clonduff parish bulletin encouraged Mass-goers to have their say.

“We would encourage everyone to complete and return the survey sent out last week so that a decision can be made in the coming weeks regarding the future use of the Parochial House and the future residence of our Parish Priest, Fr Charles Byrne,” a notice in the bulletin said.

The Diocese of Dromore said, in a statement to the Irish News, that it was “aware that the parish of Clonduff is currently conducting a consultation within the parish regarding a future residence for the parish priest.”

A diocesan spokesperson added: “The diocese awaits the outcome of this local consultation and will consider it in accordance with diocesan procedures.”