Fr Brendan Smyth's face leering into the camera lens is the best-known and most frightening image of a paedophile priest.
"For the first time ever to see a priest arrested and brought before the courts really said to people very clearly. this was actually a crime. Nobody would have believed that a priest of the Catholic Church could have viciously sexually assaulted children."
- Colm O'Gorman, Director, One in Four & survivor of Clerical Abuse
Fr Brendan Smyth's face leering into the camera lens is the best-known and most frightening image of a paedophile priest. In 1994, in a Belfast court, he was convicted of 17 counts of sexual abuse, an event that stunned the nation. Three years later in Dublin, he pleaded guilty to another 74 counts of child sexual abuse.
"Only the Devil" tells the shocking story of Fr. Brendan Smyth, whose abuse of children was known to his superiors in the Catholic church as far back as the late 1940's. The programme recalls how he was sheltered in his abbey in Co. Cavan - even when he was wanted by the RUC.
But not only did the case open a whole can of worms for the Catholic Church in Ireland, it also brought down a government. The programme examines, too, how, due to the extraordinary inaction of a high-level civil servant in the Attorney General's Office, the Brendan Smyth case brought down the Fianna Fáil / Labour Coalition.
In1997, Smyth died in prison but his case continues to echo in the corridors of both Church and State to this very day - it was the first of the high-profile cases against a priest for abusing children. The memory of Fr. Brendan Smyth's face as he leered into camera would be etched on the nation's minds forever. This was one story we were to become all too familiar with.
Reporter : Fachtna Ó Drisceoil
Producer/Director : Kevin Cummins