Cardinal's role must be probed by gardai, say Labour
Published 16/03/2010 | 05:00
THE Labour Party last night demanded a full garda investigation into Cardinal Sean Brady's role in an alleged cover-up of clerical child abuse.
After taking legal advice, the party said it had been informed that it was a criminal offence under the Offences Against the State Act 1939 to take an oath for the purposes of "covering up a crime".
Yesterday, Cardinal Brady again defended his role at a 1975 meeting where two children who had been abused by Fr Brendan Smyth were asked to take a vow of silence.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who is in the US, refused to be drawn on mounting calls for Cardinal Brady's resignation.
Mr Cowen said the State had a responsibility to protect children, learn lessons from the past and implement the recommendations of the Murphy and Ryan reports.
But he insisted that Cardinal Brady's position was a matter for the church.
The Taoiseach said: "From my point of view and the State's point of view, it's about making sure that we put in place child-protection guidelines and infrastructure that will make sure we don't repeat the terrible mistakes of the past.
"The church has its own issues to deal with as an institution and they should be dealt with in that context. The State has its job to discharge and that's what I'm anxious should be done."
Meanwhile, Labour asked the gardai to investigate the 1975 controversy on two grounds -- Cardinal Brady's failure to report the abuse to the civil authorities and his role in requiring abused children to take an oath of silence.
Labour social affairs spokeswoman Roisin Shortall said: "The Labour Party is calling for a garda investigation into the role of Sean Brady in this entire affair.
"I believe that there should be a garda investigation to determine whether or not the failure to report Fr Smyth's crimes to the civil authorities was itself a criminal offence."
Most people were "appalled", said Ms Shortall, at the sight of another senior cleric attempting to "defend the indefensible".
She added: "It's really beyond belief that there was a situation where children were required to take an oath to hide that abuse."