David Quinn: If Brady must resign, then so should many lay people
Published 17/03/2010 | 05:00
HAD Cardinal Sean Brady taken the initiative and admitted his involvement in the Fr Brendan Smyth case there would still have been uproar, but he might also have been commended for his honesty and there might be less pressure on him to resign.
It is unfathomable that he did not admit his involvement, especially with a court case pending. But should he resign? The answer is no, unless the standard we apply to him is applied to everyone. What is that standard? That's what we need to decide. Basically, Irish society needs to determine the exact circumstances under which people who have had any involvement at all in a child protection case must resign. What is the minimum we expect of people? How far back should we apply this standard? How far down the chain of command?
If we are to judge this matter by the reaction to Cardinal Brady, then the standard is clear. If a person did not report a case to the police, no matter how junior they were at the time and no matter how many decades ago it happened, then that person should go. But do we really mean this? Because if we do, then we must be prepared to apply it to all organisations, otherwise we are singling out the church. For example, suppose a teacher back in 1975 learned of an abuse allegation against a colleague and he reported it to the principal but not to the gardai -- and it subsequently emerged that the teacher went to work in other schools where they abused other children. Should that teacher also resign, 35 years later?