Latest: Taoiseach to consider McAleese call for inquiry into church's handling of Fr Finnegan allegations

Update 10.50pm: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that he will consider a call from the former President Mary McAleese for an inquiry into the church's handling of child abuse allegations against Fr Malachy Finnegan.

Speaking in the US, Mr Varadkar said he would speak to the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Children about the matter on his return.

The case relates to allegations against the priest in the northern diocese of Dromore.

The Taoiseach said his understanding was that the issue relates to allegations in the North.

However, he said that some Catholic dioceses encompass both north and south, so the matter would need consideration.

"I saw some of the reports of it, and I know it was deeply powerful and has affected a lot of people," he said.

Earlier: Mary McAleese: My brother was sadistically abused by paedophile priest Malachy Finnegan

Former president Mary McAleese has called for an inquiry into child abuse allegations against Malachy Finnegan, former president of St Colman's Grammar School in Newry, Co Down.

Ms McAleese revealed that her youngest brother had been "seriously physically, sadistically abused by Malachy Finnegan" for the duration of his time attending the school.

Her brother only confided in her about the abuse recently, at the age of 49.

Speaking on Today with Sean O'Rourke, Ms McAleese said that her brother never told of the abuse he suffered "because that culture of silence was so oppressive and because these children were made so fearful".

She said that her brother is "so incredibly loved by all of us, to think that he suffered and never felt that he could tell anyone...for all the years he was there, and it was known.

So many people had to have known. So many people who could have done something about it, we know now that the very first complaints about Malachy Finnegan go back to the 1970s.

Ms McAleese called for an independent inquiry to be carried out into the allegations of abuse at St Colman's College.

Speaking this morning, Ms McAleese told that she has received neither an acknowledgement nor a reply from the letter she wrote to Pope Francis after the Vatican declined to approve her taking part in a conference in Rome.

The Voices of Faith conference moved to a location in Rome outside of the Vatican and Ms McAleese was the keynote speaker.

When a listener sent a text to the programme to ask if Ms McAleese would consider leaving the Catholic church due to the issue she has with it, she said she would not.

"I'm comfortably a member of the Catholic church, comfortably uncomfortable sometimes. It's my home, my spiritual home...I love my church."

You can listen to the full interview below:

Digital Desk

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