Three Victims of Paedophile Priest Brendan Smyth Can't Bring Fresh Claims against Church
February 28, 2014
A Catholic Bishop has won a High Court court halting three actions for damages brought against him in a representative capacity by a man, his sister and another woman who previously settled Northern Ireland court actions for Stg ?25,000 each over being sexually abused over years as children by paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth.
The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nichoals Kearns, today granted an application by the Bishop of Kilmore, Dr Leo O'Reilly, for orders halting, on grounds of the previous NI settlements, the actions brought against him in his representative capacity as Bishop of the Kilmore diocese.
The cases by the three were also brought against Cardinal Sean Brady, who is being sued in his personal capacity arising from his role as part-time secretary to former Bishop of Kilmore, Francis McKiernan, during a church investigation in 1975 into complaints about Smyth.
Cardinal Brady had not made any similar application to that of Bishop O'Reilly and the proceedings against him remain in being.
In separate cases, the man, his sister and a cousin alleged negligence and breach of duty of care arising from failure by representatives of the Catholic Church over years to monitor and supervise Brendan Smyth and failure to stop his abuse or report it to the Gardai.
The man was abused by Smyth between 1968-76 and claimed he was unaware, when he settled his NI case in 1998, Bishop McKiernan and then Fr Brady had been made aware in 1975 that Smyth was abusing children including himself but failed to alert either gardai or the man's parents.
In opposing the application, Rossa Fanning, for Bishop O'Reilly, produced media reports from October 1995 which stated Bishop McKiernan had said he was aware in 1975 that Smyth was abusing children. Counsel for the man said he was unaware, when he settled his NI case, that he himself had in 1975 been named to Catholic priests as one of Smyth's victims.
All three initiated their proceedings in the Irish High Court in 2012.
Today, Mr Justice Kearns said the real issue arising from Bishop O'Reilly's application was whether the revelation or discovery of the 1975 meetings concerning church investigations into the allegations against Smyth constituted a fresh cause of action and a new and separate injury to the plaintiffs not addressed in the settlements of their NI cases.
It was "undeniable" the same physical and psychological injuries occasioned by Smyth's conduct constituted the damage pleaded in the plaintiffs Northern Ireland cases and the damage pleaded in these proceedings, he said.
The allegations of negligence were also essentially the same and both sets of procedings claimed aggravated damages on the basis the defendants ought to have taken Smyth "out of circulation" when his "proclivities" became known to them.