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Sunday 26 February 2017

No cases against Smyth in hospital inquiry

John Cooney and Ralph Riegel

ONE of Ireland's biggest hospitals has confirmed that a probe into a six-month chaplaincy by on-the-run paedophile cleric Brendan Smyth revealed no issues of concern.

The Mercy University Hospital (MUH) in Cork said the investigation was launched after it emerged that the Belfast-born priest had worked at both MUH and Tralee General Hospital on a temporary basis in 1992 and 1993 -- less than three years after going on the run from police in Northern Ireland.

The Irish Independent has revealed that Smyth dealt with the sick, the young and the elderly -- and also prayed with the dying. Last night, an MUH spokesman confirmed that the issue of the cleric's work at the Cork hospital had already been addressed by a probe which began in 1995 and finished the following year.

"The Southern Health Board (SHB) set up a process to discover whether Brendan Smyth's temporary chaplaincy at a number of hospitals had led to any issues of concern," he said.

"The SHB fully disclosed details of Brendan Smyth's presence in a number of hospitals and provided a helpline to facilitate calls, queries or concerns.

"No issues of concern were reported to MUH arising from that process," he added.

Similarly, the Health Service Executive (HSE) -- which succeeded the SHB -- confirmed that no issues had arisen from Brendan Smyth's short time in Tralee.

Suspicious

His work at the Kerry hospital was substantially shorter than his time in Cork and amounted to only a few weeks.

While at MUH, Smyth offered his chaplaincy services to an all-girls secondary school in Cork.

However, a nun working at the school was apparently unhappy with Smyth and suspicious of his offer. It is understood that Smyth never secured access on his own to youngsters at the school. He was finally extradited back to the North in 1994 and sentenced to seven years in prison where he died in 1997. It remains unclear how Smyth got the crucial letter of validation from his order -- and whether copies of that order were ever passed to the diocesan authorities and church hierarchy in the Republic.

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