Northern Ireland

Fr Brendan Smyth victim: Police must be held responsible for abuse

Brendan Bowland Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Brendan Boland said the revelation that police knew in 1973 of Smyth's offending was "shocking"

A victim of a prolific paedophile priest has said Irish police must be held responsible for the abuse he suffered as a boy.

Brendan Boland was sexually abused by Fr Brendan Smyth in the 1970s.

An inquiry heard this week that police in Dublin were aware of Smyth's activities as far back as 1973, more than 20 years before he was convicted.

Mr Boland also said an apology to abuse survivors from a senior member of the Catholic church was "weak and feeble".

Smyth was a notorious child abuser, and was at the centre of one of the first clerical abuse scandals to hit the Catholic church in Ireland.

Revelation

Details emerged at Northern Ireland's Historical Instutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry on Wednesday that gardaí (Irish police) were aware that a psychiatric hospital had diagnosed Smyth as "suffering from paedophilia".

But he was not jailed until the 1990s, when he was convicted of more than 100 indecent assaults against children, in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, over a 40-year period.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Fr Brendan Smyth was convicted of more than 100 indecent assaults against children across Ireland

Mr Boland said the revelation that police knew of Smyth's offending was "shocking".

"[Gardaí] are equally as responsible as the Catholic church because they chose not to prosecute him," he told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme.

"And if they had prosecuted him back then I would never have met him, so I'd never have been abused in the first place.

"I can't imagine what my life would've been like now. I don't think it'll ever leave me."

Secrecy

The retired Cardinal Seán Brady, the former head of the Catholic church in Ireland, appeared at the inquiry on Thursday and apologised to those affected by Smyth's actions.

He had been involved in a 1975 internal church inquiry into the priest's activities.

Mr Boland, who was 14 at the time, reported the abuse to the then Fr Brady, and was interviewed about his allegations.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Cardinal Seán Brady's apology to Smyth's abuse victims was "weak and feeble", Mr Boland said

Mr Boland was made to sign an oath of secrecy at the time, and police were never informed of the abuse.

Cardinal Brady's apology to Smyth's victims was "a last-ditch attempt to save his face and the face of the Catholic church", Mr Boland said.

He added that the senior cleric had made an attempt to contact him previously to apologise, but that it was to be "under his conditions".

"If I had have went I would've felt like a little boy again being scrutinised in his environment," he said.

"I refused to go."

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