Archbishop calls for sex abuse inquiry

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin yesterday called for an independent international commission of inquiry to be established into the crimes of the late Brendan Smyth.

His suggestion came as Cardinal Seán Brady continued to face criticism over his role in an early Church investigation into Smyth’s activities in the 1970s.

Since the airing of a BBC documentary last week, in which Cardinal Brady’s role in the investigation was scrutinised, he has come under increasing pressure to step down.

Yesterday, the Sunday Times reported that an unidentified victim of Smyth’s claimed that Smyth used to visit St Patrick’s College in Cavan even after the then-Fr Brady had been told of the abuse of Brendan Boland, the subject of the BBC documentary.

Mr Boland was then a pupil at the school, while Cardinal Brady taught at St Patrick’s at the time.

A spokesman for Cardinal Brady said: “He never met [Smyth] or spoke to him.”

Archbishop Martin said yesterday the victims of abuse were owed an inquiry and that it would be better for the full story to emerge “and not bits and pieces”.

The secular inquiry would work north and south with Church and State, he told RTÉ, adding that while the idea of commissions was “not fashionable”, it was necessary as the Smyth story was “of such a dimension”.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore described it as an interesting proposal and said: “I would be supportive of anything that would help in this.”

Yesterday, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise Colm O’Reilly said the interview methods used by Cardinal Brady during the investigation into child sexual abuse by Smyth were “bizarre”.

The BBC documentary outlined how child victims alleging abuse by Smyth were interviewed in private, away from their parents.

Smyth’s victims have said Cardinal Brady could have done more to ensure Smyth was brought to justice or removed from positions in which he had contact with children far sooner.

On RTÉ’s This Week yesterday, Bishop O’Reilly said the children should not have been interviewed in private, but he questioned whether the authorities here would have “been able to take on that challenge” of dealing with Smyth.

However, while he said Smyth being allowed to continue to practise was “an appalling outcome”, he also claimed Cardinal Brady should not have to step down, as he had acted in good faith and had done what was required of him at the time.

He said Cardinal Brady would not want the issue to “simmer on” and believed he will “act in accordance with his own conscience”.

Yesterday, the Catholic Communications Office said Cardinal Brady had offered to meet Mr Boland, whom he interviewed as a teenager in the 1970s, to apologise.

It is understood Mr Boland wants a public apology, which has not been forthcoming.

Bishop O’Reilly said he was unsure why there was a reluctance to issue a public apology. “I don’t know what is necessary to bridge that gap,” he said.

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