Church needs to review policies and co-operate fully with police, says Armstrong

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said the Catholic Church needs to engage in a full and comprehensive review of its past policies and practices, and engage in full disclosure and co-operation with the police in relation to sexual abuse allegations.

The call comes after Bishop John McAreavey stepped down after it was revealed he said Mass for Father Malachy Finnegan, who died in 2002. Finnegan, the former president of St Colman’s College in Newry, has been accused of sexual abuse by 12 people, as well as a catalogue of physical and emotional abuse against pupils.

The PSNI has now established a dedicated investigation team to investigate complaints against Finnegan.

“Victims should be able to come forward in safety and get the support they need,” said Ms Armstrong.

“The Church must take responsibility and reveal to the police what they know about physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by priests, and any other people associated with responsibility or authority within its organisation and schools.

“The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, despite looking at a number of institutions, did not investigate such abuse at schools. The financial compensation system established as a result of this inquiry should also look at these cases and establish whether a similar scheme should be put in place for victims and survivors.”

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