over Brendan Smyth Abuse 'Final', Court Told
By Mary Carolan
January 29, 2014
|Brendan Smyth (right)
leaving court in Dublin in 1997. Photograph: Alan Betson
A Stg £25,000 payment made to a man who sued in the Northern
Ireland courts over being sexually abused as a child over years
by paedophile priest Fr Brendan
Smyth was a “full and final settlement” and the man cannot bring
a fresh case here against a Catholic Bishop, the High
Court has been told.
The Bishop of Kilmore, Dr Leo O’Reilly, has asked the court to
stop the man suing him, in his representative capacity as Bishop
of Kilmore, over alleged failures by the diocese and Catholic
Church to stop Smyth’s abusive behaviour.
The man insists he is entitled to sue on grounds including that a
previous Bishop of Kilmore, Dr Francis McKiernan, was allegedly
made aware in 1975 that Brendan Smyth was abusing children but
failed to report that to the gardaí or the man’s parents.
It is alleged that a young boy had, at meetings in 1975 with
priests of the Catholic Church, told the then Fr Sean
Brady - now Cardinal Sean Brady — that Smyth was abusing
That boy was asked to sign a document stating he would not tell
anyone else about the abuse except authorised priests, Liam Reidy
SC, for the man, said. While that boy had reported that the boy
was among the children being abused by Smyth, and had provided a
name and address, no steps were taken to either inform the Garda
or his parents, counsel added.
Bishop McKiernan had directed the Norbertine Order to ensure
Smyth remained in their abbey but that directive was not obeyed
and Smyth continued to abuse children, counsel said.
The case here involves a different set of facts, including the
failure “to have the ordinary decency” to report Smyth’s abusive
behaviour to the gardaí and the parents and thus avoid the
continuing suffering of the boy and his sister, who was also
abused by Smyth, counsel said.
The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas
Kearns, today began hearing an application on behalf of Bishop
O’Reilly to halt the action being taken against him by the man.
The judge will later deal with similar applications by the Bishop
in proceedings brought by the man’s sister and by another woman .
The man has sued Dr O’Reilly, in his representative capacity, and
Cardinal Sean Brady, in his personal capacity over his role as
part-time secretary to Bishop McKiernan in 1975 during the
investigation of complaints about Smyth. He alleges there was
failure by various representatives of the Catholic Church over
years to monitor and supervise Brendan Smyth and a failure to
stop his abuse or report it to the Garda.
Cardinal Brady has not applied to have the cases struck out
against him and the application before the court relates only to
Rossa Fanning, for Dr O’Reilly, said his argument was that,
despite the “very sympathetic” facts of the case and his client’s
sympathy for the man, it would be an “appalling spectre” for
litigation generally if the court did not grant his application.
The diocese of Kilmore has very limited resources and is facing
other claims, he said.
His argument was that the Northern Ireland settlement was a full
and final settlement of all claims arising from the abuse by
Smyth, including claims against the diocese of Kilmore and the
Catholic Church, counsel said. The NI case had been taken
against Smyth himself, the Norbertine order and then Cardinal Cahal
Daly as representative of the Catholic Church, counsel said.
Reidy argued the man was entitled to sue on grounds including
that, when he had settled the NI case in 1998, it had been
concealed from him that the then Bishop of Kilmore was aware in
1975 of Smyth’s abuse. He had not sued the Bishop of Kilmore in
the Northern Ireland case but would have done so had he been
aware of all the facts, counsel said. The man claims the 1998
settlement indicated no intention to discharge the defendants
from the claims in the current proceedings. He had received
legal advice at the time he had no case against Cardinal Brady’s
predecessor, Cardinal Cathal
Daly and the settlement of the Northern Irish cases did not
represent the full monetary value of his injuries, it is alleged.