Smyth Victims Take Legal Action against Gardai

June 25, 2015

Cardinal Brady arrives at Banbridge Courthouse to give evidence to the HIA on Thursday. ©Presseye

It follows Wednesday’s claims at the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry that Irish police knew about Smyth’s activities in the early 1970s.

Solicitor Kevin Winters said civil proceedings had been launched because of the "appalling failure" to stop the paedophile priest.

He said: "A number of victims of Smyth's abuse have asked us to write to the Garda commissioner to find out why they didn't act on a letter sent to Finglas Garda station in 1973.

"Our clients are shocked to learn that the document didn't alert the Gardai and the authorities to the very real risk of future abuse by Smyth."

Previously unseen documents from St Patrick's Hospital in Dublin were produced at the inquiry on Wednesday.

They revealed Smyth had asked his psychiatrist to have him admitted to hospital after coming to the attention of Gardai in Finglas in 1973.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Cardinal Sean Brady said priests investigating claims of child abuse were bound to secrecy in order to protect the good name of the church.

In a packed room containing many of Brendan Smyth’s victims, the former head of the Catholic Church in Ireland began giving his evidence to the HIA.

In 1975, Cardinal Brady was a priest – Father Sean Brady – when he and two other priests, at the request of the Bishop of Kilmore, interviewed a 14-year-old boy at St Malachy’s in Dundalk who said he had been abused the now-notorious paedophile priest.

The cardinal admitted the abuse was an unspeakable crime and said there was a shroud of secrecy and confidentiality with a view not to destroy the good name of the church.

The police were not told of Smyth’s activities and the only sanction imposed on him by the church was to forbid him temporarily from saying confession.

Cardinal Brady admitted the questions put to the child were inappropriate and he commended the courage of the 14-year-old boy, saying he believed everything he had said but recognised the response as being neither adequate nor effective.

For this, he said: “I am truly sorry”.

Now-retired senior cleric Cardinal Brady was fiercely criticised after it emerged that he had assisted in the 1975 meeting where two teenagers who were abused by Smyth were sworn to secrecy about their ordeal.

Their testimonies were never handed over to police and it meant the west Belfast priest continued to abuse children before he was finally jailed 19 years later.

A module of the long-running abuse inquiry in Banbridge has been concentrating this week on what opportunities there were to prevent Smyth, who died in prison in 1997 following a heart attack, from carrying out his attacks on children and whether any action, or inaction amounted to systemic failings.

Earlier it was revealed that Smyth told a doctor in 1994 that the number of victims he sexually assaulted could run into the hundreds.

His abuse has also been described by a number of witnesses.

Completing his evidence on Thursday, Cardinal Brady said: “You have been tasked with inspecting a dark chapter in our history.

“I am confident, however, that your patient and diligent work will cast a welcome light of truth on the situation and will hopefully lead to a better future”.








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