Brendan Smyth’s victims to sue Garda for damages

Evidence to Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry has prompted legal proceedings

Victims of paedophile priest Brendan Smyth are to sue An Garda Síochána for damages over its failure to take action when they were allegedly notified in the early 1970s that Smyth was a child sex abuser, it was stated on Thursday.

Belfast solicitor Kevin Winters said he was instructed to take legal proceedings against the Garda following evidence provided to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry on Thursday that gardaí in Finglas were alerted in 1973 that Smyth was "suffering from paedophilia".

That information emerged through the disclosure of confidential documents from St Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin where in 1973 Smyth was receiving psychiatric treatment for his sexual propensities.


“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,” said Mr Winters.


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

“It has been deeply re-traumatising 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.”

A Garda spokesman said that “as the inquiry is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment”.

Margaret McGuckian of victims group Savia said it was "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 gardaí but we also want to know why it took so long for these documents to be handed over. ”

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times