Home News Fr Malachy Finnegan: Man awarded £30k damages over alleged abuse

Fr Malachy Finnegan: Man awarded £30k damages over alleged abuse

A man who claimed he was sexually groomed by a paedophile priest at a County Down school is to receive £30,000 in damages, the High Court has been told.

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A man who claimed he was sexually groomed by a paedophile priest at a County Down school is to receive £30,000 in damages, the High Court has been told.

The 65-year-old man sued the board of governors at St Colman’s College in Newry and the Diocese of Dromore.

He accused the late Fr Malachy Finnegan of “excessively hugging” him while he was a pupil at the school in the 1970s.

The case had been listed for trial, due to begin at the High Court.

In court on Monday, the former pupil’s barrister announced that a resolution had been reached in the action.

In agreeing an out-of-court settlement, the Church and the school have not accepted liability.

The man’s barrister told Mr Justice McAlinden her client was to be paid £30,000 plus legal costs as part of the settlement.

The former pupil had claimed he had been subjected to unwanted and persistent hugging by Finnegan that had isolated him from his peer group.

It was also alleged Finnegan’s sexual grooming led to constant bullying from other pupils.

A solicitor for the former St Colman’s College pupil said the latest case added “to the growing narrative on the full extent of Finnegan’s predatory activities”.

St Colman's College in Newry
Image caption,Finnegan taught at St Colman’s College in Newry and was later its president

“His bouts of violence and excess faux affection were all part of a perverse, sophisticated grooming process. Excessive hugging was a recurring feature of that,” the barrister said.

“While the defendants denied liability, our client wants to thank the diocese for taking a pragmatic approach to what was always a difficult case”.

Finnegan taught and worked at St Colman’s College from 1967 to 1987, spending the last decade as the school’s president.

The priest, who died in 2002, was accused of a long campaign of child sexual abuse but never prosecuted or questioned by police about claims made against him.

In 2018 it emerged that the Diocese of Dromore had settled a previous claim made by one of his alleged victims.

At that stage the board of governors at St Colman’s condemned the physical, sexual and emotional abuse inflicted by Finnegan while he worked there.

His image was also removed from the school’s photographs