News Irish News

Sunday 17 December 2017

'I'm not only one responsible,' insists former abbot

Greg Harkin

THE abbot who moved paedophile priest Brendan Smyth from diocese to diocese but failed to prevent him abusing more children has said Cardinal Sean Brady must share some of the blame.

Father Kevin Smith is, by his own admission, partly responsible for the hundreds of crimes of child rape and abuse committed by Smyth.

But the former head of the Norbertine Order was also spreading the blame at the weekend.

Now 81 and forced out of his position as head of the order to which Smyth belonged, he called for Dr Brady to resign.

He still lives at Holy Trinity Abbey in Kilnacrott, near Ballyjamesduff in Co Cavan. The premises have never been sold.

"Of course Cardinal Brady should resign, I'm not the only one responsible for this affair," the former abbot insisted.

Not far away, the body of Smyth lies buried beneath a concrete grave, covered in cement to prevent vandalism.

Plastic flowers and a small statue of Jesus lie on top of it, although the word 'Reverend' has since been removed after a campaign seven years ago by one of his victims.


Former Abbot Smith has admitted in the past that he moved the serial abuser on numerous occasions "in an effort to keep him from forming attachments to families and their children".

He would later acknowledge how "inadequate" that policy was.

And it emerged at the weekend that the former abbot actually lobbied to have a 'children ban' against Smyth lifted by the church.

The current Bishop of Kilmore Dr Leo O'Reilly has confirmed that in 1984 Abbot Smith wrote to his predecessor Bishop Francis MacKiernan seeking an end to the ban.

Bishop MacKiernan agreed to the request -- a decision that would allow Smyth to prey on children more easily.

Bishop O'Reilly said the decision gave permission to the pervert priest to return to hearing confessions and celebrating Mass publicly.

The decision was reviewed every six months for the next three years before reviews were then initiated annually. This was only revoked in 1993 as the RUC investigations into Smyth stepped up.

When Bishop MacKiernan first gave permission for Smyth to say Mass publicly again, Dr Brady was no longer his secretary. He had left the position five years earlier.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News