The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland was warned by a 14-year-old victim of Fr Brendan Smyth that the paedophile priest was likely abusing five more named children — but failed to take action.
The explosive claims once again raise questions about Cardinal Seán Brady’s handling of sex abuse claims made to him about Smyth. Three years ago, Cardinal Brady said he would resign if he found himself in the situation where he was aware that any failings to act on his part allowed, or led, to any child being abused.
The information uncovers how the Primate of All-Ireland was handed written names and addresses of three boys and two girls who were being abused or were at risk of being abused by Smyth in 1975 — 19 years before he was jailed in 1994. Four of the children were being abused, it later emerged. Two continued to be abused after the 1975 inquiry.
Last night, One in Four executive director Maeve Lewis said the allegations “cast a shadow on the credibility of Cardinal Brady as a leader of the new child protection policy”.
Despite having five names, Cardinal Brady only made contact with one of the children, a young man from Cavan. However, he did not tell the boy’s parents, gardaí, or the health authorities about the boy’s confirmation that he had been abused. He just sent a report to his bishop, who later barred Smyth from Confession and reduced his ability to complete public duties.
Last night, one of the victims who altar boy Brendan Boland told BBC’s This World he had identified to Cardinal Brady said he was abused for another year after his name was handed to the cleric, while his sister was abused for seven more years and his four cousins were abused until 1988.
“Nobody came to our house. They should have came to our house and warned our family, or my parents and said, look this is what’s happening, this man is involved in this. We would strictly advise you to keep him away from the house.
“Brendan, poor Brendan, actually thought giving this information, he thought he was going to protect me and protect other people and thinking this was going to be the end of it. And by God, it is far from the end.”
Mr Boland, the then 14-year-old victim of Smyth who handed the names and addresses to Cardinal Brady, made the revelations in a secret Church inquiry in 1975 where he described his own abuse at the hands of Smyth. The boy’s father was made stay outside the inquiry while his son spoke to the then Fr Brady, a school teacher and bishop’s secretary, and two other priests.
Last night a spokesman for Cardinal Brady denied he should now resign following his 2009 pledge. “The cardinal wasn’t a bishop in 1975. He was a priest who was asked by his own bishop to record evidence in a process that was headed by more senior clergy. Fr Brady had no authority over Brendan Smyth and the inquiry he was asked to assist in was under the management of his bishop, not him.
“Even today, it is the ‘designated person’ who has responsibility for reporting to the authorities, not the person who first receives or notes the details of the allegation.”
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