It is critical to note that Cardinal Brady’s comment in 2009 that he would resign if by his action children were put at risk was specifically in response to a question about if he was a Bishop with overall responsibility for dealing with allegations at the time of his action or inaction – but he wasn’t a Bishop in 1975, he was a priest who was asked by his own Bishop to record evidence in a process that was headed by more senior clergy than him.
Fr Brady had no authority over Brendan Smyth and the inquiry he was asked to assist in was under the management of his Bishop, not him. It would be disingenuous to report the 2009 quote in any other way.
Even today, in the State’s own guidelines for responding to allegations of abuse against children, it is the ‘Designated Person’ in the organisation who has the responsibility for reporting the matter to the civil authorities, not the person who first receives or notes the details of the allegation, as Fr Brady did in 1975.
Even according to today’s State and Church guidelines, Fr Brady would not be the person with responsibility for making a report to the civil authorities.
That responsibility at the time rested with the only people who had the authority to stop Brendan Smyth, namely the Abbot of his Monastery in Kilnacrott, to whom Bishop McKiernan reported the evidence collected by Fr Brady.
Fr Sean Brady believed the boys in 1975. He acted quickly by reporting all available information to his Bishop, Bishop Francis McKiernan so that action could be taken against Fr Brendan Smyth by his Abbot Kevin Smyth.
It would be totally disingenuous to suggest that Fr Brady, in 1975, had the power to stop Brendan Smyth or a ‘Managerial’ or ‘Designated Person’ role.
It is also important to note that those who were in charge of the Church Inquiry in 1975 and the then Fr Sean Brady, who was asked to assist in it as a ‘notary’ or note taker, were working without the benefit of any guidelines on responding to abuse of children from either the State or the Church.
It would be unreasonable and grossly unfair to judge the actions of those at that time by the standards of the clear guidance from the State and the Church that only came into existence some 20 years later.
Prior to and following the Church inquiry in 1975, Fr Brady was not aware of any additional allegations concerning Brendan Smyth.
Cardinal Brady worked full time in Rome from 1980 to the mid 1990s. Cardinal Brady was shocked, alarmed and disgusted when he first become aware of further reports of abuse by Brendan Smyth in the 1990s.
Cardinal Brady has apologised publicly and privately to all victims of abuse.
Cardinal Brady has, with other Bishops and Church leaders, led and developed robust child safeguarding policies and practices since 1996, which includes the policy of reporting such allegations to the civil authorities.