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Cardinal Seán Brady part of a conspiracy of silence on child abuse - Amnesty

Amnesty International has said Cardinal Seán Brady was part of a conspiracy of silence on clerical child abuse which ran from top to bottom in the Catholic Church in Ireland. The organisation repeated its call for the Northern Ireland Executive to establish an inquiry into clerical child abuse in non-residential settings.

The comments came as the retired Cardinal and Archbishop of Armagh, Seán Brady, former leader of the Catholic church in Ireland, gave evidence to the Historical Abuse Inquiry (HIA) in Banbridge, Co Down today. Retired judge Sir Anthony Hart is leading the HIA inquiry, one of the UK's largest investigations into physical, sexual and emotional harm to children at homes run by the church, state and voluntary organisations.

Fr Brady was a canon lawyer and note-taker at meetings in 1975 where two child victims of paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth were asked to sign oaths of silence. Rather than report the notorious child rapist to the police, Irish bishops moved Smyth around parishes and across the border into Northern Ireland, where he went on to abuse many more children in both children’s homes and in parishes, before finally being arrested by the RUC in 1994.

Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director, Patrick Corrigan, who campaigned for the inquiry to be established, said:

“The Fr Brendan Smyth affair may be Ireland’s worst ever paedophile scandal.

“Cardinal Brady was part of a conspiracy of silence which ran from top to bottom in the Catholic Church in Ireland, seeking to protect abusive priests and the reputation of the institution rather than children.

“Whatever excuses or explanations are given today, the fact is that, neither in 1975, nor during the two decades of abuse that followed, did Cardinal Brady or his colleagues see fit to report what they knew about the criminal activity of Fr Brendan Smyth to the authorities in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.

“Seán Brady will have to live with his conscience for the rest of his life, but countless children will have to live with the harm caused by Fr Brendan Smyth and facilitated by senior members of the Church, who allowed him to run rampage through a generation of innocents.

“Given that Fr Smyth abused children in both children’s institutions and at a parish level in Northern Ireland, this Inquiry must be followed by another one to investigate clerical child abuse outside residential homes. It is simply wrong that only half of this story is told and that those victims of clerical abuse at a parish or school level continue to be ignored by the Northern Ireland Executive.”

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