'I have never forgotten my conversation with Finnegan'.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

'I have never forgotten my conversation with Finnegan'. thumbnailKEVIN Winters of KRW Law. Picture courtesy of Pacemaker.

Mr Winters, a former pupil of St Colman's College, says he was groomed by Malachy Finnegan when he was at the school. Now he represents victims of the paedophile priest.

TOP Human Rights lawyer Kevin Winters has spoken exclusively to the Newry Democrat about how paedophile priest, Malachy Finnegan attempted to groom him.

Mr Winters' firm KRW Law, are acting for five victims of Finnegan, who held the positions of spiritual adviser, teacher and president at St Colman's College during the 1970s and 1980s. He died in 2002.

It has emerged in recent weeks that 12 victims of Finnegan's sexual abuse settled a case against the diocese in October last year.

The Democrat has learned that three of those individuals received monetary compensation.

KRW Law's client is thought to have received the largest settlement ever paid to a victim of historical abuse.

And since the screening of a BBC Spotlight programme on the scandal, another four victims have come forward to tell their stories to KRW Law.

The firm have said that their clients are calling for a public inquiry "once and for all into clerical abuse in Northern Ireland."

Mr Winters, who was a pupil at St Colman's between 1974 and 1981 said that he felt compelled to speak about what he called "an unsettling conversation" he had with Finnegan almost 40 years ago, and which he just recently told his 85-year-old Father about.

It reveals the tactics used by Finnegan to begin his heinous abuse of young boys.

"I have never forgotten that conversation," said Mr Winters.

"I recall that I was in the third year at St Colman's College, Newry, and my name was called out over the Tannoy speaker to attend the President's office.

"My happiness in escaping the tensions of a maths class quickly dissipated on entering 'Father ' Finnegan's room, which to my mind, resembled the inside of a fascist interrogation chamber.

"It was pitch black, apart from a single light on his desk and an array of corporal punishment implements - instruments of torture to mind - strategically on display."

The young teenager was initially quizzed about how he was getting on with the school's football team - he was at that time playing centre-half-back for the Dalton Cup team - but as he recalls, the conversation quickly took a sinister turn.

"He asked me wholly inappropriate questions when I was going through puberty," said Mr Winters.

"My replies seemed to wrong foot him and the rest of his session dried up quickly after that. I retreated back to maths class, only this time [I was] very happy to be there."

Mr Winters said that when he told his elderly Father about what had occurred all those years ago in the priest's room, he "did not say much." Nevertheless, he said that he could detect plenty in that lack of response.

"He did not have to [say much], but in his silence I could see how yet another unfolding Catholic Church cover-up was eroding some of the traditional certainties of his 'middle' Ireland," he said.


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