Bishop urges court to halt action of man abused by Smyth

A Catholic Bishop has urged the High Court to stop him being sued by a man who received £25,000 (€30,341) after settling his Northern Ireland court action over being sexually abused as a child by paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth.

The man is suing the Bishop of Kilmore, Dr Leo O’Reilly, in his representative capacity as Bishop of the Kilmore diocese, and Cardinal Sean Brady in his personal capacity arising from his role as part-time secretary to former Bishop of Kilmore, Francis McKiernan, during the investigation in 1975 into complaints about Smyth.

In separate cases, the man, his sister and a cousin allege negligence and breach of duty of care arising from failure by representatives of the Catholic Church over years to monitor and supervise Brendan Smyth and failure to stop his abuse or report it to the Garda.

The man was abused by Smyth between 1968-76 and claims he was unaware, when he settled his Northern Ireland case in 1998, that Bishop McKiernan and then Fr Brady had been made aware in 1975 that Smyth was abusing children including himself but failed to alert either gardaí or the man’s parents.

When Rossa Fanning BL, for Bishop O’Reilly, produced various media reports from Oct 1995 which stated Bishop McKiernan had said he was aware in 1975 that Smyth was abusing children, Robert Haughton SC, for the man, said his client was unaware, when he settled his Northern case in 1998, that he himself had in 1975 been named to Catholic priests as one of Smyth’s victims.

President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns remarked it was clear from the Oct 1995 media reports Smyth had been “rumbled” within the Church as “a vile sexual predator”, but nothing was done and Smyth went on to abuse other children.

The judge yesterday reserved judgment on Mr Fanning’s application to halt the man’s case against his client on grounds including that the settlement of the Northern Ireland case was a “full and final” settlement of the man’s claims.

Judgment was also reserved on similar applications by Bishop O’Reilly to halt the claims made against him in the other cases brought here by the man’s sister and cousin, both of whom had also settled Northern Ireland cases in 1998.

The strike-out applications relate only to the claims against Bishop O’Reilly and not the claims against Cardinal Brady.

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