Cardinal Seán Brady says he will not resign over failure to pass on Brendan Smyth abuse claims

Wednesday 02 May 2012 22.21
Seán Brady was involved in a 1975 inquiry into the activities of Fr Brendan Smyth
Seán Brady was involved in a 1975 inquiry into the activities of Fr Brendan Smyth

Cardinal Seán Brady has said he does not intend to resign following new allegations about a 1975 church inquiry into the activities of paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth.

A BBC documentary claimed the failure to pass on details of abuse allegations put the other children at risk.

Speaking to RTÉ News, Cardinal Brady said that the programme misrepresented his role in the case, describing him as an investigator rather than a note-taker.

He also rejected any accusation that he had deliberately refused to take responsibility.

Cardinal Brady said he was "outraged, appalled, and felt betrayed" to find out that this information about Brendan Smyth had not been acted upon.

The new allegations about the secret internal Catholic Church inquiry in 1975 were made in a BBC documentary last night.

Read Cardinal Seán Brady's full statement here

It emerged two years ago that Cardinal Brady, when he was a 36-year-old priest teaching at St Patrick's College in Cavan and a bishop's part-time secretary, was one of three priests involved in the inquiry.

He was the note-taker who took details of the evidence from 14-year-old Dundalk boy Brendan Boland, who told how Fr Smyth had been abusing him.

Archbishop Brady stated two years ago that after the inquiry was completed he passed on the full details of the evidence to his then bishop, the late Dr Francis McKiernan.

In the documentary, Mr Boland told reporter Darragh MacIntyre that in 1975 he also gave the internal church inquiry details of two other boys, one in Cavan and a second in Belfast, who were at risk from Fr Smyth.

The programme, called ''The Shame of the Catholic Church'', claimed that the abuse allegations were not brought to the attention of the families of those two boys.

The programme tracked down the Belfast boy at the centre of the new allegations.

He claimed that Fr Smyth went on to sexually abuse him for a further year after the internal church inquiry.

The man also told the programme makers that Fr Smyth sexually abused his sister over a seven-year period after the 1975 inquiry, and that the priest was abusing his cousins up to 1988.

When details of Cardinal Brady's role in the 1975 inquiry became public, he stated that he provided a full report of the claims made to his then bishop.

"I don't see any reason why he should resign, he what he was asked to do as a young priest … he did precisely what he was asked to do, he made his report," Bishop Michael Clifford told the Today with Pat Kenny programme this morning.

"We are talking about a different generation. When you were asked to do something by your bishop you did precisely what you were asked to do, and responsibility went to him.”

He said that at the time, Cardinal Brady could not have been expected to have informed parents of reports of abuse that he had been made aware of as part of his role in the investigation.

"I have no doubt that in this issue Seán Brady would not have been expected to have reported to the parents. He was simply doing one job at that particular time on that particular day, and having done that he passed it on to his bishop.

"That is the line of responsibility, it obviously moved up eventually to his superiors and to Brendan Smyth's superiors.

"Acting as notary, he was not in a position, and could not be seen to have been in a position to contact the parents. That was a responsibility that lay with his superiors."

Mr MacIntyre said a canon lawyer informed him that Cardinal Brady had responsibilities as an "investigator" in this case.

In a response to the BBC programme, the Catholic Church said that in 1975 "no State or church guidelines for responding to allegations of child abuse existed in Ireland".

Kenny says Brady should 'reflect' on programme

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said it is a matter for Cardinal Brady himself to reflect on the outcome of last night's BBC programme.

Speaking in Dublin this afternoon, Mr Kenny said the Government cannot eradicate the tragedies and the horrendous actions that went on in the past, but as head of Government he needed to ensure it does not happen again.

He said that was why the Government appointed a Minister for Children and had just last week published the heads of the Children First Bill.

Mr Kenny said he had stressed the importance of every organisation dealing with children, including religious organisations, playing their full part in co-operating with Government to set out a system and structure whereby such "horrendous carry-on" can never happen again.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has described as ''tragic and disturbing'' the cases outlined in the programme.

He said it was for Cardinal Brady to make whatever comment he deems appropriate in the light of the programme.

The One in Four group said survivors will be heartbroken by what was revealed by the programme.

Spokesperson Maeve Lewis said the revelations require an explanation from the cardinal.

Defending Cardinal Brady's actions at the time of the inquiry, Monsignor Charles Scicluna said: "I think he fulfilled his duty well."

The Promoter of Justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith added that he was sure Cardinal Brady was still a fit person to lead the church in Ireland.

When asked on RTÉ's Morning Ireland if Cardinal Brady had any questions to answer as a result of the documentary, Monsignor Scicluna said: "I don't think so, no."

Meanwhile, Irish clerical abuse survivor Marie Collins has said she believes Cardinal Brady should stand down.

Ms Collins said "a 14-year-old boy knew what was right and wrong" and Cardinal Brady should have acted on the information he had.

"Anyone who was in that room that heard those names and addresses should have done something about it," said Ms Collins.

She added that Cardinal Brady "should have had a conscience".

She said he failed to act and "on those grounds, he should not be there any longer".