In an article in the Newry Democrat (“Time for Church ‘to do the right thing’”, 20 November 2018), Mr Kevin Winters stated in relation to those abused by the late Fr Malachy Finegan, “Eight months on I think it’s now incumbent on the Church to do the right thing and engage in reparation in a victim-centred way to allow people to try and move on”.
The Diocese of Dromore apologises unreservedly for the hurt and damage caused to his victims by Fr Finegan, and any other priest or church representative acting under its authority. The Diocese of Dromore finds such behaviour towards children and vulnerable people abhorrent, inexcusable and indefensible, and is fully committed to achieving and maintaining best practice in the area of safeguarding young people and vulnerable adults.
It cooperates fully with the National Board for Safeguarding in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCC) and statutory agencies to ensure that “we recognise and uphold the dignity and rights of all children, are committed to ensuring their safety and well-being, and will work in partnership with parents/guardians to do this” (Diocesan Child Safeguarding Policy). All Church personnel have a responsibility to safeguard children through promoting their welfare, health and development in a safe and caring environment that supports their best interests and prevents abuse.
With respect to historical cases of abuse, the Diocese of Dromore is also committed “to (i) establish the truth of what happened in the past; (ii) to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again; (iii) to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected; and (iv) above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes.” (Diocesan Child Safeguarding Policy Statement). The Diocese is committed to this journey of justice, truth, healing and abuse prevention.
The legacy of abuse is not time limited. The impact on victims is deeply personal and is carried differently by each one. We must not lose sight of the individuals involved, nor their personal journey, nor the hurt felt by those close to them, when referring to historical abuse.
The Diocese is therefore open to and welcomes the call of Mr Winters “to do the right thing”. The Diocese would welcome a process which can resolve the on-going concerns of victims of abuse within the Diocese. Such a process must be victim-centred and place the needs of the victims to the fore; it must be open to all victims of abuse suffered at the hands of representatives of the Diocese; and it must ensure that it is comprehensive, practical and successful in achieving the healing that victims need. To this end, and acknowledging the personal journey of every victim, the Diocese is willing to work with victims and their representatives to establish a process which will achieve the healing victims seek so that they can move forward in their lives and relationships.
The Diocese advises anyone who may have a concern of a safeguarding nature to contact the PSNI, Social Services, or the Diocesan Designated Safeguarding Officer (Telephone: 077 8991 7741).
The Diocesan Child Safeguarding Policy Statement can be accessed at: