A Belfast solicitor has said he is finalising preparations to begin civil actions on behalf of five clerical abuse victims who allege they were let down by Irish authorities. 

Last week, Northern Ireland's Historical Abuse Inquiry heard claims of contacts between a Dublin hospital and gardaí in Finglas about paedophile priest Brendan Smyth.

The substance of the claims being prepared by Belfast-based solicitor Kevin Winters is that elements of the Irish healthcare system and gardaí knew about the activities of Fr Brendan Smyth in 1973.

This was more than 20 years before he was brought before the courts for his crimes.

For two decades afterwards, the Co Cavan-based priest abused children in Ireland, north and south and elsewhere.

So far five people have asked Mr Winters to commence legal actions.

According to the solicitor, they include Brendan Boland, who was interviewed by priests' diocese in 1975 about his claims of sexual abuse and sworn to secrecy during that process.

The priests present included a representative of the Bishop of Kilmore, Fr Seán Brady, then a teaching priest in St Patrick’s College, Cavan and later Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh.

He gave evidence to the Historical Abuse Inquiry last week.

According to Mr Winters, the abuse of his clients could have, and should have, been prevented given what was known about Smyth.