Saturday 22 October 2016

Smyth victims to take action against gardaí over failures

Lesley-Anne McKeown

Published 26/06/2015 | 02:30

Brendan Smyth: psychiatrist arranged treatment
Brendan Smyth: psychiatrist arranged treatment

Victims of paedophile priest Father Brendan Smyth are to take legal action against the Gardaí.

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The move follows revelations that officers in Dublin knew about his sex abuse in the 1970s.

Solicitor Kevin Winters said civil proceedings had been launched because of the "appalling failure" to stop Smyth.

"A number of victims of Smyth's abuse have asked us to write to the Garda Commissioner to find out why they didn't act on a letter sent to Finglas garda station in 1973," he said.

"Our clients are shocked to learn that the document didn't alert the Gardaí and the authorities to the very real risk of future abuse by Smyth."

On Wednesday, previously unseen confidential documents from St Patrick's Hospital in Dublin were shown to the Historical Abuse Inquiry (HIA) in Northern Ireland.

They revealed Smyth had asked his psychiatrist to have him admitted to hospital after coming to the attention of gardaí in Finglas in 1973.

Victim campaigner Margaret McGuckin said: "We want to know where the cover-up starts and finishes and how far it spread.

"It is beyond comprehension to think that so many people's lives could have been different had the authorities acted sooner.

"It is a bad day for the Gardaií but we also want to know why it took so long for these documents to be handed over.

"All of those abused are entitled to be treated with some dignity and to be given the full truth. It is long overdue."

In a letter to an officer at Finglas garda station, a doctor said he had been asked to write by Smyth to inform officers the late priest was a patient under his care and that he was awarde of "the nature of his problems".

"I hope this arrangement will be satisfactory to you and your superiors," he added.

A case summary dated February 1974 also confirmed Smyth's diagnosis of paedophilia.

Mr Winters said the psychiatrist's letter ought to have led to the immediate arrest of Smyth.

"The [victims] would like to know what was done in response to the extraordinary revelation that Smyth was diagnosed as a paedophile," he said.

"The many victims of Smyth feel they are entitled to answers that are overdue by 40 years.

"It has been deeply re-traumatising for them to learn about the contents of this letter and to that end feel they have no alternative but to issue civil proceedings for damages for what on the face of it was an appalling failure to take meaningful steps to prevent crimes against the innocent and vulnerable."

Irish Independent

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