THE victim of a notorious paedophile priest, suspected of being a police informer during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, has told how he had to flee to Scotland to rebuild his life.

In this week's disturbing Big Read, Neil Mackay reveals that Sean Faloon was just 10 when Father Malachy Finnegan began sexually abusing him. He and other victims are now demanding that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) reveals whether Finnegan was an informer who passed intelligence on republican targets.

Police knew about Finnegan’s offending as early as 1996, but didn’t act. Much of Finnegan’s offending took place in Northern Ireland’s so-called ‘Bandit Country’, the site of intense IRA activity near the Irish border.

Nearly 20 years ago, Sean fled to Scotland. He could no longer face living in Northern Ireland. “I couldn’t cope. I could feel Finnegan’s hands all over me, the smell of his breath, his voice,” he says. “Scotland is my home now.” Sean, who has lifted his anonymity, lives near Dunkeld.  

Sean and other victims want anyone who allegedly knew about Finnegan’s crimes arrested and charged. There’s claims many clergy knew Finnegan was a paedophile while crimes were on-going.

When asked by the Herald on Sunday whether Finnegan was an informer, the PSNI said: “We would neither confirm nor deny.” Given Finnegan is now dead, the police position fuels belief among victims that he passed intelligence while abusing children.

The Herald:

Suspicions are heightened as the ‘neither confirm nor deny’ line is often deployed in Northern Ireland regarding known informers, such as the infamous IRA mole Freddie Scappaticci - Agent ‘Stakeknife’ - unmasked by the Herald in 2003.

Allegedly the first report about Finnegan came to the church in 1994. It’s thought the PSNI didn’t receive a report from the church regarding Finnegan until 2006.

The victims’ lawyer Kevin Winters says Finnegan was an “industrial-scale paedophile”. He represents 40 of Finnegan’s victims, with multiple cases on-going. However, he says there are at least 80 to 100 known victims. “But I’d double, triple, quadruple that.”

Winters has asked for an official inquiry into the case. An attempt to force the PSNI to confirm or deny that Finnegan was an informer failed in court.

Winters is also suing the church on behalf of victims in relation to Finnegan being sent to a church ‘rehab’ facility, allegedly for paedophilia. “It shows evidence of cover up,” he claims. “Had action been taken at the time, Sean’s abuse would have stopped and [Finnegan] would have been reported to the authorities and prosecuted [and] held accountable for his crimes.”

Other action includes a case against the PSNI over its “failure to provide information on [Finnegan] and his alleged ‘informant’ status”, and a “potential challenge to police over failure to investigate [Finnegan, and] cover up by the church”. 

The church has never admitted any allegation of cover-up, Winters says, “as there’s never been a fully fledged open court case”. Winters says police must revisit the case.

Victms of Finnegan, including Sean, now want anyone who allegedly knew about his crimes to be arrested, questioned and if necessary charged and convicted under Section 5 of the Criminal Law Act, which makes it an offence to withhold evidence and not disclose a crime.

Victims also want the police to own up to whether or not Finnegan was an informer. Another victim, Tony Gribben, says that in his case alone, he suspects up to 15 members of the clergy, and people connected to a school where he was abused by Finnegan, knew what was happening.

Victims also want Archbishop Eamon Martin, the Primate of All Ireland tipped to be the next Pope, to resign on the grounds that he carries ultimate responsibility for the behaviour of clergy and church. Church actions have been “immoral”, Sean says.

The PSNI said that in 2006 Finnegan “again came to the attention of police”, adding: “Public Protection Branch detectives carried out a thorough and robust investigation into the circumstances of abuse committed by deceased priest Father Malachy Finnegan … Nine files were submitted to the [Public Prosecution Service] who subsequently directed no prosecution.”

The Catholic Church said that the Diocese of Dromore, where offences happened, “cooperated fully” with police investigations, “continues to support any ongoing investigations or inquiries by police or statutory agencies”, and had “apologised unreservedly for the hurt and damage caused to victims and survivors of any priest or church representative acting under its authority”.


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