Church accused of deceit and fraud in Smyth settlements case

Cardinal Brady being sued in personal capacity following role in 1975 inquiry

 Cardinal Seán Brady. A brother, sister and their  cousin have appealed against the High Court dismissal of their action against the cardinal.  File  photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Cardinal Seán Brady. A brother, sister and their cousin have appealed against the High Court dismissal of their action against the cardinal. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Irish Catholic Church authorities have been accused of extreme deceit and equitable fraud in a case involving settlements with victims of abuser Fr Brendan Smyth.

At the Court of Appeal, before Justices Mary Irvine, Michael Peart and Gerard Hogan, senior counsel Michael Counihan said the plaintiffs were “misled” and “deceived” when told their cases only involved Smyth’s Norbertine order and not the wider church.

He is acting for a brother and sister and their cousin in an appeal against the High Court dismissal of their action against former Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady and the Bishop of Kilmore Leo O’Reilly, successor to the previous bishop of Kilmore Francis McKiernan.

Depression

Liam Reidy

He said his clients’ settlements were below the norm and that information which emerged since 2012 led to a recurrence of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as they realised their abuse could have been prevented.

Dr Brady is being sued in his personal capacity over his role as part-time secretary to Bishop McKiernan in 1975 during investigations of complaints about Smyth.

It is claimed he and McKiernan failed to report to gardaí that signed complaints of abuse were made against Smyth.

It is claimed the defendants owed a specific duty of care in circumstances where one of the children interviewed identified the brother as a potential victim of Smyth.

The case against both was brought in 2011 in the High Court, 13 years after cases taken by the complainants in Belfast were settled. These involved £25,000 awarded to the brother and £16,000 to the sister in 1998 and £25,000 to their cousin in 1999.

The plaintiffs argue information came to light in 2010 as to Dr Brady’s knowledge in 1975 which was concealed before the settlements.

Halted action

Cahal Daly

Judgment has been reserved in the case.