Wednesday 22 November 2017

Church accused of failing to stop Smyth's abuse of children

Brendan Smyth: Church knew of abuse, court told. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Brendan Smyth: Church knew of abuse, court told. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Tim Healy

Three people sexually abused by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth want the Supreme Court to permit them to sue a Catholic bishop.

The case is over the Church's alleged failure to act to prevent Smyth abusing children.

Michael Counihan, SC for the three, argued it is of significant public importance if the Church had kept "under wraps" facts that would have identified Smyth as being an abuser.

Last November the Court of Appeal granted Bishop Leo O'Reilly orders halting the three actions brought against him in his capacity as representative of the Kilmore diocese, over the Church's alleged failure to move to stop Smyth's abuse.

The three - a man, his sister and a cousin - settled Northern Ireland court actions over being sexually abused for years as children by Smyth for £25,000 damages each in 1998. Those cases were against Smyth himself, the Norbertine order and then Cardinal Cathal Daly as representative of the Catholic Church. The £25,000 payments were made by the Norbertines.

They say that when they agreed the payments, they were unaware of meetings allegedly showing church representatives were told in 1975 of Smyth's abuse - including abuse of one of the three - but failed to act to stop it.

In their actions here, initiated in 2012, they sued Bishop O'Reilly and former Cardinal Sean Brady in his personal capacity arising from his role as part-time secretary to former Bishop of Kilmore, Francis McKiernan, during a Church investigation in 1975 into complaints about Smyth.

The High Court and Court of Appeal had ruled in favour of halting the cases against Bishop O'Reilly. The three-judge Supreme Court adjourned its decision.

Irish Independent

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