Fr Brendan Smyth: Victims start legal action against Garda

Cardinal Sean Brady leaves Banbridge Court on thursday after giving evidence  in The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry
Cardinal Sean Brady leaves Banbridge Court on thursday after giving evidence in The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry

Victims of paedophile priest Father Brendan Smyth are to take legal action against the Garda.

The move follows revelations that officers in Dublin knew about his sex abuse in the early 1970s.

The Irish police knew Fr Brendan Smyth was a paedophile in the 1970s but no action was taken

The Irish police knew Fr Brendan Smyth was a paedophile in the 1970s but no action was taken

Solicitor Kevin Winters said civil proceedings had been launched because of the “appalling failure” to stop Smyth.

He said: “A number of victims of Smyth’s abuse have asked us to write to the Garda commissioner to find out why they didn’t act on a letter sent to Finglas Garda station in 1973.

“Our clients are shocked to learn that the document didn’t alert the Gardai and the authorities to the very real risk of future abuse by Smyth.”

On Wednesday, previously unseen confidential documents from St Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin were shown to the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry.

They revealed Smyth had asked his psychiatrist to have him admitted to hospital after coming to the attention of Gardai in Finglas in 1973.

Mr Winters said the psychiatrist’s letter ought to have prompted the immediate arrest of Smyth.

A case summary dated February 1974 also confirmed Smyth’s diagnosis of paedophilia.

“They would like to know what was done in response to the extraordinary revelation that Smyth was diagnosed as a paedophile,” said Mr Winters.

“The many victims of Smyth feel they are entitled to answers that are long overdue by 40 years.

“It has been deeply retraumatising for them to learn about the contents of this letter and to that end feel they have no alternative but to issue civil proceedings for damages for what on the face of it was an appalling failure to take meaningful steps to prevent crimes against the innocent and vulnerable.”

Victims’ campaigner Margaret McGuckin said: “We want to know where the cover up starts and finishes and how far it spread.

“It is beyond comprehension to think that so many people’s lives could have been different had the authorities acted sooner.

“It is a bad day for the Gardai but we also want to know why it took so long for these documents to be handed over.

“All of those abused are entitled to be treated with some dignity and to be given the full truth.

“It is long overdue.”