Fr Brendan Smyth: a timeline

Notorious paedophile cleric’s life has continued to have impact long after his death

Late paedophile cleric Fr Brendan Smyth

Late paedophile cleric Fr Brendan Smyth


The following is a selective list of articles from referring to the late Fr Brendan Smyth.

March 22, 1996

BRENDAN SMYTH was back in Magilligan Prison, Co Derry, last night after senior Garda officers interviewed him in Belfast about further allegations of sexual abuse in the Republic.

Senior Garda officers, including a chief superintendent, travelled to Antrim Road RUC station in Belfast yesterday to question the 68 year old convicted paedophile about the alleged offences in Dublin, Mayo and Cavan.

Smyth has been in prison since 1994 when he pleaded guilty to 17 charges of indecent assault involving the sexual abuse of five girls and three boys. In September last year he was sentenced to a further three years in jail after he pleaded guilty to 26 charges of sex abuse in Northern Ireland over a 20 year period.

At the time it was reported that the priest may face further charges in the Republic. Smyth has applied for release on parole. He becomes eligible at the end of this month.

However, his solicitor, Mr Denis Maloney, complained this week after reports that the RUC may want to interview Smyth again. Mr Maloney said that it was clearly understood that the file on his client in relation to offences in Northern Ireland was closed after he pleaded guilty last September.

March 22, 1997

BRENDAN SMYTH (71), the paedophile priest, arriving at Limavady Court in Co Derry yesterday where an order was made for his extradition to the Republic to face 74 sex abuse charges.

The Norbertine priest had been released from Magilligan Prison, where he served a four-year term for sexually abusing children over a 20-year period in west Belfast.

During the hearing, Smyth stood in the dock beside an RUC sergeant. He remained silent except to reply “Yes” when asked if he understood five specimen charges. After the hearing, people outside the court shouted abuse at him. He was driven to City of Derry airport. Accompanied by two gardai, he was then flown to Dublin.

July 23, 1997

The paedophile Brendan Smyth has declaredhe recognises his sexual offences as “sins against God, offences against individual persons and offences against the laws of the State”.

The priest’s declaration, which includes a public apology to his victims for his wrongdoing over 36 years, came in a statement he wrote by hand overnight and which was read to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court by his counsel, Ms Gemma Loughran, on the second day of his sentence hearing.

July 26, 1997

Jailing Brendan Smyth for 12 years yesterday, Judge Cyril Kelly said he considered him to be a continuing risk to the community, despite his age.

All the evidence pointed to Smyth’s criminal behaviour being ongoing. This was a unique case.

Judge Kelly posed the question: “Is the defendant likely to re-offend?”, and added: “In my view, yes.”

August 27, 1997

The convicted paedophile Brendan Smyth (70), was buried yesterday in a pre-dawn ceremony at his order’s Kilnacrott Abbey in Co Cavan.

The lights from a hearse were used to light up the graveside as the coffin was lowered at about 4.15 a.m.

The funeral was attended by seven Norbertine priests and some local people.

Smyth’s family stayed away for fear of a media presence. Four gardai stood in the background.

The burial followed a requiem Mass in the abbey at 3.30 a.m.

In a statement, the Norbertine order said: “We were earnestly requested by the family to conduct Father Brendan Smyth’s burial services in private and we have at tempted to do that in every way.”

November 11, 1997

A jury at the inquest into the death of the paedophile priest Brendan Smyth has found that he died of natural causes.

The coroner at Naas Courthouse was told the 70-year-old priest suffered from severe coronary artery disease.

The inquest heard evidence from staff of the Curragh prison, gardai in Co Kildare and the State Pathologist, Dr John Harbison.

The Curragh Prison’s acting chief officer, Mr Gerry Kavanagh, said Smyth had been transferred from Arbour Hill to the Curragh last August 8th.

He had settled into a normal routine, and Mr Kavanagh was aware his medical history included a heart complaint and asthma.

June 24, 1998

A woman who was abused by the paedophile priest, Brendan Smyth, for nine years has been awarded £25,000 compensation. The abuse began when she was six years old, 30 years ago, when she was being cared for in a Catholic Church-run orphanage.

The woman, now 36, is married and lives in Dungannon, Co Tyrone. She cannot be named to protect her identity.

March 18, 2010

THE LATE Fr Brendan Smyth’s religious order, the Norbertine Community, has apologised to Cardinal Seán Brady and those abused by the paedophile priest for failing to remove him permanently from the exercise of his ministry.

It also said yesterday that the only effective way of dealing with a person like Fr Smyth was “through the rigour of criminal law”.

March 23, 2010

REJECTING FRESH calls for his resignation yesterday, Primate of All-Ireland Cardinal Seán Brady said he felt he did his “duty” in the manner in which he handled allegations of abuse against convicted paedophile priest Brendan Smyth.

The cardinal told RTÉ’s Morning Irelandhis attendance at meetings where Smyth’s victims were asked to swear an oath of secrecy was at the behest of the then bishop of Kilmore, Dr Francis McKiernan.

May 9 2012

BRENDAN BOLAND, a victim of paedophile priest Brendan Smyth, has said he fears no healing is possible for him while Cardinal Seán Brady remains as the Catholic primate.

Evidence from Mr Boland in a recent BBC documentary detailed how crucial information he passed on to the then Fr Seán Brady and two other members of a three-member clerical inquiry into Smyth’s activities in 1975 was not in turn passed on to parents of other victims of Smyth’s abuse.

July 7 2014

Clerical child abuse survivor Marie Kane (43) has asked Pope Francis to remove Cardinal Seán Brady as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland due to his handling of a clerical child abuse inquiry in 1975.

Now living in Carlow, her abuse by a priest took place in Bray for three years until she was 18.

“It’s a big thing with me that there are still members of the hierarchy there who were involved in the cover-up. I feel personally they (Church) cannot contemplate any change happening, there will be no success” as long as such people remained in place, she told The Irish Times today.

During a meeting in the Vatican, she told Pope Francis that “cover-up is still happening and you have the power to make these changes.” There were others besides Cardinal Brady, she said, but “I didn’t want to go into a litany.”

Pope Francis responded that “it was difficult to make these changes,” she said, “but it’s a big thing with me that Seán Brady is gone.”

In 1975, while investigating allegations of child sexual abuse against paedophile Fr Brendan Smyth, Cardinal Brady swore two boys to secrecy as part of a canon law investigation process. The allegations were not reported to police and Smyth continued to abuse children before being jailed in Belfast in 1994.

May 11, 2015

Paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth will be the subject of a focused investigation as part of a public inquiry into historical child abuse in Northern Ireland.

The serial child molester frequented Catholic residential homes and was convicted of more than 100 charges of child abuse.

Retired judge Sir Anthony Hart is leading one of the UK’s largest inquiries into physical, sexual and emotional harm to children at homes run by the church, state and voluntary organisations.

June 22, 2015

The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry in the North heard on Monday that paedophile priest Brendan Smyth admitted that he could have sexually abused more than 200 children during his period in the religious life.

Junior counsel for the inquiry Joseph Aiken said that new information had emerged from its investigations about Smyth including how after his arrest he told a doctor in 1994 that more than 200 children may have been abused by him.

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