Lawyers and rights groups call for clerical abuse inquiry

Claire McKeegan

Lawyers and human rights groups have called for a public inquiry into allegations of clerical child sex abuse in Northern Ireland.

Amnesty International said recent revelations of abuse by Father Malachy Finnegan, former president of St Colman’s College in Newry, strengthened the case for an inquiry.

It pointed out the Catholic Church had itself identified child abuse allegations against 100 priests in Northern Ireland since the 1970s.

Solicitor Claire McKeegan of Belfast-based KRW Law, who represents a number of Fr Finnegan’s victims, echoed the call.

She said: “We have received calls from numerous further victims and witnesses of Malachy Finnegan’s vile abuses since the significant settlement by our client known as ‘Patrick’ was made public recently.

“The message is clear: victims demand a public inquiry into clerical abuse in Northern Ireland without any further delay.

“The victims and survivors deserve to speak about the horrific abuse that took place and be heard in a public forum tasked with sufficient powers to get to the truth.

“This case has brought to the surface yet another paedophile priest who was never investigated or exposed by the church or the police.”

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty’s Northern Ireland programme director, added: “Survivors of clerical abuse in the Republic of Ireland have seen the state run inquiries in the dioceses of Dublin, Ferns and Cloyne, and have seen the Taoiseach speak out on behalf of victims.

“In Northern Ireland, to date, there has been no such examination. That situation must now end and we hope that local political leaders will add their voices to our call to the Secretary of State.”