Seán Brady and the Brendan Smyth Sexual Abuse Cover-Up

Catholic bishops and child abuse. Cover-up allowed Brendan Smyth to continue raping children for another twenty years.

This article was first published on the 15th March 2010.


Cardinal Seán Brady has featured in a good number of posts on this site.

In December 2006, I wrote to him here after he said that there was more coarseness in Irish society than there used to be.  In Seán’s  opinion, there was too much sexualisation of children at an early age, and how right he was.

What Seán overlooked though, was his personal involvement in silencing the victims of sexual abuse thirty years previously, when he extracted oaths of confidentiality from child-victims of the mass rapist, Brendan Smyth.  Whatever these broken children revealed to Seán and his fellow interrogators, would not be passed to the authorities.

And yet, for all that this holy man felt entitled to go on the airwaves two years ago and fulminate about the moral lapses of the general public, he seemed to have no qualms about interviewing a raped ten-year-old in 1975, a terrified child under an oath of silence, nor did he seem to have qualms about keeping this information to himself, without ever thinking to inform the police.

I’m sure that if Seán had remembered his role in this ecclesiastical investigation, he would surely not have complained that we sexualise our children these days more than we used to.  After all, if his colleague’s rape of children wasn’t an early sexualisation, I don’t know what is.

It’s ironic that Seán’s predecessor, Cardinal Cahal Daly, relied on an administrative defence when questioned about his handling of Brendan Smyth’s crimes.

As I recall, Cahal told reporters that he had no direct responsibility for Smyth because, as  a member of the Norbertine order, Smyth came under the control of the order’s authorities rather than Cahal’s.  Therefore Cahal Daly couldn’t interfere to stop the rapist from raping children.

In light of that, I’d be interested to know how and why Seán Brady was involved in interviewing children as a purely ecclesiastical matter, since the diocese didn’t have any authority over the criminal.  What exactly was the nature of this inquiry, if Cahal Daly is to be believed — and who would doubt the word of such an eminent churchman?

Years after Daly’s limp explanation for his failure to control a rapist, in a further irony, Seán Brady made a liar of him by intervening directly to prevent a member of another order, the Augustinians, from sharing a service of peace and reconciliation with a local Church of Ireland rector.

I heard a heartless old man on the radio this morning seeking to defend Brady’s moral failure by reference to Canon Law.  The condescending old cleric, Monsignor Maurice Dooley, dared to suggest that his church’s private rules take precedence over the law of the land, and had the further effrontery to suggest that the fault lay with the police for failing to catch the rapist.  This was even though Brady and his boss had failed to inform the police about what they knew concerning his crimes, and had placed a terrifying obligation on damaged children to remain silent.

Dooley went on to say that Brady committed no offence by withholding the information and perhaps that’s true.  But there’s another act on the irish statute book; the Offences Against the State Act, 1939, and this act explicitly forbids oaths designed to prevent a victim from disclosing details of a crime.

Administering unlawful oaths

17.—(1) Every person who shall administer or cause to be administered or take part in, be present at, or consent to the administering or taking in any form or manner of any oath, declaration, or engagement purporting or intended to bind the person taking the same to do all or any of the following things, that is to say:—

( a ) to commit or to plan, contrive, promote, assist, or conceal the commission of any crime or any breach of the peace, or

( d ) to abstain from disclosing or giving information of the Commission or intended or proposed commission of any crime, breach of the peace, or from informing or giving evidence against the person who committed such an act,

shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and shall be liable on conviction thereof to suffer imprisonment for any term not exceeding two years.

If Brady had gone to the police in 1975 — and there seems to be good reason to suppose that they would have secured a conviction —  Smyth would not have been in a position to continue raping children for another twenty years.

But the church didn’t even go that far.  In reality, they allowed Smyth a free hand and unfettered access to children and did nothing to stop him.  By their actions, they facilitated the rapist.

These are the  men who for generations have lectured the Irish people about sexual morality.  These are the men who, over generations, made sexual transgressions the worst of all in their demonology, and yet the same men claimed not to understand that Smyth’s rape of children was wrong.

I don’t believe them.  Who could believe a word they say about anything?

Brady won’t resign, though, because, just like his colleagues, he doesn’t get it.  After all, it was only last week that a fellow bishop, Christopher Jones, was complaining about the unfair treatment of the Catholic church.   Seán Brady was a staunch supporter of disgraced bishop of Cloyne, even going so far as to suggest that John Magee should be allowed to remain in office for the protection of children.

Get that now: Cardinal Seán Brady, who personally interviewed raped children and placed them under oath not to speak about the crimes of the man who defiled them, last year defended a bishop who ignored the complaints of rape victims.

Be clear about this.  Seán Brady questioned small children about the precise details of how a grown man in clerical garb touched their bodies, penetrated them and ejaculated all over them.  Brady wrote it all down and swore the children to secrecy but was not sufficiently outraged to tell the police about these crimes.

What a mighty man.

This is the individual who suggested that John Magee, the bishop who ignored rape victims, was suitable to implement child-protection measures.

Why would anyone imagine such a character would resign?


Pledge signed by abused children (according to UTV news):

I will never, directly or indirectly, by gesture, word, writing or in any other way, and under any pretext, even that of a greater good or of a highly urgent and serious reason, do anything against this fidelity to secrecy, unless special permission or dispensation is expressly granted to me by the Supreme Pontiff.


Note from the Catholic Communications Office to clarify media reporting on Cardinal Seán Brady – 16 March 2010

* The State’s first Child Abuse Guidelines came into effect in 1987 and the Church’s first guidelines Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response, were published in 1996.

* In late March 1975, Fr Seán Brady was asked by his bishop, Bishop Francis McKiernan, to conduct a canonical enquiry into an allegation of child sexual abuse which was made by a boy in Dundalk, concerning a Norbertine priest, Fr Brendan Smyth.

* Fr Brady was then a full-time teacher at St Patrick’s College, Cavan. Because he held a doctorate in Canon Law, Fr Brady was asked to conduct this canonical enquiry; however he had no decision-making powers regarding the outcome of the enquiry.

Bishop McKiernan held this responsibility.

* On 29 March 1975, Fr Brady and two other priests interviewed a boy (14) in Dundalk. Fr Brady’s role was to take notes. On 4 April 1975, Fr Brady interviewed a second boy (15) in the Parochial House in Ballyjamesduff. On this occasion Fr Brady conducted the inquiry by himself and took notes.

* At the end of both interviews, the boys were asked to confirm by oath the truthfulness of their statements and that they would preserve the confidentiality of the interview process. The intention of this oath was to avoid potential collusion in the gathering of the inquiry’s evidence and to ensure that the process was robust enough to withstand challenge by the perpetrator, Fr Brendan Smyth.

* A week later Fr Brady passed his findings to Bishop McKiernan for his immediate action.

* Eight days later, on 12 April 1975, Bishop McKiernan reported the findings to Fr Smyth’s Religious Superior, the Abbot of Kilnacrott. The specific responsibility for the supervision of Fr Smith’s activities was, at all times, with his Religious Superiors. Bishop McKiernan withdrew Brendan Smyth’s priestly faculties and advised psychiatric intervention.

[Note: the Abbott took no action against Smyth.  The bishop subsequently permitted  him to resume duties as a priest in the diocese.]



William Crawley

Colm O Gorman

55 thoughts on “Seán Brady and the Brendan Smyth Sexual Abuse Cover-Up

  1. At risk of soundng pedantic I’m glad to see you did not refer to the above churchmen as father, bishop, cardinal etc. It irks me to here these people being interviewed on th eradio and referred to by title such as Father Brendan Smyth, brother so ans so, Sister so and so. etc.
    They are not my spiritual relatives. I refuse to adress a priest as Father. If I know their name I’ll use that.

  2. I wouldn’t dream of addressing anyone as Father, but sometimes, for the sake of internetty searchiness, you have to use terms like Cardinal Seán Brady.

  3. The more I read and hear of this the more I reckon there is a criminal charge to answer here – The Labour party have already suggested same – wonder will there be any action? – Nothing less will get through to these dis-functional amoral individuals.

  4. I have no doubt that these poor desecrated children were also made to feel guilty for what happened to them. Hence the obligation to remain silent, lest they besmirch the reputation of a man of the cloth. The fact that these wretches can sermonise about millstones and ponds without being struck down dead is all the proof I need that there is no god.

  5. The reference which grants sovereignty on the catholic church must be removed from the Irish constitution, it’s in the preamble. That should read instead ‘citizens’.
    Fuck Dev and McQuaid. Their subversive actions allowed all this more than any other thing.

  6. Seán Brady should be facing criminal charges for aiding and abetting. Does he not have the slightest inklink of guilt that countless more children were abused by Brendan Smyth as a direct result of his coverup, silencing children to protect a sex offender, not reporting anything to the authorities. That’s lives ruin, innocence robbed.. suffering and pain that these poor unfortunate children have had to live with the rest of their lives.
    Just on a side note.. where were the parents when the children were being forced to sign oaths of confidentiality? I’m sorry but if it was my child and I was in a room with these people and I felt they were anything less than grovelling for my forgiveness and persuing justice to the fullest .. I would be doing time -and that’s just for the likes of Seán Brady. Actually I doubt I’d be talking to these people in the first place, I’d be too busy hunting down Brendan Smyth.

  7. A victim of Brendan Smith spoke (unidentified) on the six-one news.
    She made the excellent point that Smith swore her to secrecy or else there would be dire consequences.
    Seán Brady and co did the same to other victims….
    She said that Brady and Co were worse than Smith, because they should have stopped it.
    She said she was abused for 5 years by Smith, and Brady could have stopped that from ever happening, but he didn’t.
    That says it all for me.
    The State needs to step in here now!

    On another note, I heard Jimmy McCarthy’s new song this morning on Tubridy – Christian Telephone – for all of those raggy boys and girls (Reference to A Song for a Raggy Boy). he said that we must stand up for all of these unfortunate people.
    We Must.

  8. Yea it was a year before I was born, so just being hypothetical.. I don’t have kids either, so no offense meant to the parents’ of the victims, just saying how I think I would have reacted and what these evil hypocrites deserve.

  9. My point is this: since you weren’t indoctrinated and bullied like those parents, you don’t know how you would have acted.

  10. Does it really matter if Brady resigns or not? What, after all would he be resigning? It is the catholic church that should be resigned in this country. The likes of Brady should be investigated and if proof is found, prosecuted like any other criminal. If the state insists on having an official religion perhaps the CofI might suffice.

  11. I couldn’t give a rat’s arse if Brady resigns. That’s his business. It’s his club.

    As long as these guys reliquish control of our schools I don’t care.

  12. No.8 – Could I rather suggest the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster as the new State religion – C of I not crazy enough! Trust me I know ;)

  13. Actually I’m pretty sure how I would have acted to be honest regardless of the period I was living in. No disrespect meant to how others dealt with it at the time, but I guess I just don’t understand it personally. I think we’ve all been bullied and indoctrinated to a certain degree. i.e Why aren’t they out of our schools yet?
    Throughout history brave people have had to stand up for their rights regardless of the consequences.. even in places like Iran there are free thinking individuals who question things.. take Rosa Parks for example. I fear I would be doing more than making a fuss though if my child was abused, regardless of the period.

  14. FME – we still have a culture of coming down hard on those who “complain” who blow the whistle, and those who presume to accuse those of a “higher” class of assault, or rape. Witness the 50 hand-shakers in the recent sexual assault prosecution; the hounding of the midwife who called “time” on butcher and so-called obstetrician Michael Neary; the conviction of the fella who accused Willie O’Dea of punching him for “wasting police time” or some such. You may want, with all your heart, to stand up for your child, and for what is right, but it takes a very strong-minded person to do so when every other person around you looks at you accusingly for “rocking the boat.” Some did stand up, and their stories have yet to be told. But most quaked at the knees and hid their pain and shame – and who’s to say which camp we would find ourselves in when faced with similar circumstances. We need the support of each other, and to get it, we need to vow to cover each other’s backs, to protect and praise the whistle-blowers and to stand up for the weak and vulnerable against the mighty. “Evil can only flourish when good people do nothing.”

  15. Well said Scotlyn. Couldn’t agree more. I do think though a lot of people know which camp they’d find themselves in when faced with similar circumstances. You know your own temperament basically.. you just don’t mess with some peoples’s loved ones, regardless of who you are, what power you have, what time or place you are in.

  16. RTE News
    ‘Bishop of Elphin Christopher Jones has questioned why the Catholic Church is being singled out when the cover-up of child abuse is going on today in families and in society.
    He said 95% of abuse happens in the family home and people are afraid to talk about it’.

    Beyond words. What planet do these freaks live on? Fucked up or what? Evil men and women in fancy dress hiding behind some fucking mythical nonsense and we let them get away with it. We fucking let them.
    ‘Sure Sean up the road is fucking his six year old Mary so I thought I would have a go myself the odd Sunday. Enjoyed it so I fucked a few more. The boss said he would move me now and again when the parents got a bit uppity. Sure wheres the harm in that. They are all at it round here.’
    Are we fucking blind and deaf or what? What does it all say about us? Are we as fucked up as they are?

  17. He also said “It’s not fair to judge the actions of thirty-five years ago by the standards of today” (or words to that effect). So ” we wouldn’t do that now, but sure it was all different back then, everyone was doing it” . I can’t think of a way to finish this except to say, may they all rot in hell.

  18. That’s what it sounded like to me. Maybe he’d like to go back on RTE and see if he couldn’t put a bit of spin on it.

  19. Please don’t resign, Professor Brady. Please just sit there in your own filth for the rest of your life.

    The rape starts long before the paedophile priest insinuates himself into the victim’s body.
    Your rational faculty is raped by the inculcation of absurdity e.g. trinity, virgin birth, reversible death, edible creator.
    I understand that professor Brady extracted an oath of secrecy from a ten-year-old child under pain of excommunication. And likewise from a fourteen-year-old child.
    That means, a grown man of extraordinary intelligence and education terrified children from telling that they had been raped, with the threat that they would be burned by devils.
    Is that not a child rape in its own right? Did his actions not echo in the emotional arena what Brendan Smith had done to them in the sexual sphere? It’s the same, the same crafty self-interest, the same overpowering control, the same brutal threats.
    In every sense except the sexual, Professor Brady took those two kids by the scruff and shafted them.
    Why? To protect his gang and to promote himself within it.
    What disappoints me most is to hear victims calling for reform in the church, a new round of bishops etc. I’m amazed they can’t see that religion is a grooming and a rape from start to finish.

  20. To night on Frontline there was a Philosophy Professor claiming that it was easy now to look back with 20/20 vision and decide the fate of Brady & Co, There is no fucking hindsight because the revelations are being drip fed by the very people who’s minds are so institutionilised, That only under threat of further Court proceedings are they revealing facts one at a time.
    Unstranger. Yes to a change in the Constitution, could start the petition here !
    The Minister of Justice needs to wade in have these people brought to Justice en masse.
    Brendan Smith who openly admitted to his vile acts, was send to the US where he continued to rape and defile little children, Apparantly in ’75 he was not even interviewed by Sean Brady after the children had been interviwed and bound to secrecy, The most ” appropriate ” move Brady made was to inform those two children that they could speak with an ” appointed ” priest !
    To not even inform those children or their legal guardians of their most basic human rights and recourse to Law was beyond amoral,
    As for ” confession ” the whole sick concept, little children being indoctrinated about ” sin ” No parent should allow a child to entertain such a wicked concept, ban it !
    I know several unfortunate people who have suffered abuse from priests, yet it really puzzles me that they have gone on to have their own children baptised, communionised, confirmationised and married in the church, is that indicitive of the far reaching mind numbing effects of these people, Isn’t it time to make the stand with a show of rejection, More effective than resignations I think.

  21. These people must have thought that, look at Ratzinger in Germany. I have a little more faith in the Germans to get well pissed off and maybe do something real like lock up a few of them. Not just the abusers but those who were covering it up and still are.

  22. Hopefully the Germans will call for the resignation of Ratzinger.
    In my comment 22 when i wrote ” mind numbing effects of these people ” I was referring to the clergy, on rereading it sounds ambigious, apologies, i was getting very angry.

  23. Rotten to the core, a man who lectured on right and wrong did not know how to act when faced with a child rapist.
    As for that trip to rome, all that was, was a meeting with the boss to make sure they were all saying the same thing.
    Casey had to resign and leave the country for having sex with a woman, and I don’t recall any bishop saying he should have stayed.
    So a grown man threatens the victims of child rape and this leads to more victims dosen’t see a need to go.
    My mother died years ago, she went to mass every day, I am glad she is not here to see whats going on now.

  24. I am not Irish, but I am a Celt, and I have always admired the Irish for standing up for their rights. Therefore I cannot understand how the Irish people put up with these atrocities from the church. This is a country that introduces blasphemy laws, see the guilty parties (the church) get away with rape and worse, and then condone a cover up. Fortunately many are now seeing the light…and it’s not a religious one

  25. Outright denial, followed by righteous indignation, followed by claims that they were merely following orders.

    There were a series of trials held about 65 years ago where a lot of very evil men tried the same tactics, but were hanged anyway.

    I find it an insult to intelligence when, as a supposed paragon of moral virtue, this man would allow by inaction such things to happen.
    Maybe we should try and get Ireland excommunicated, then the bastards would have no frocks to hide behind.
    That way those of us that actually follow Christ’s teachings (you know, christians) could get on with it without being lumped in with that crowd, plus we would get our schools back.

  26. I just don’t understand why the faithful (that’s to say the followers of the mad – using that term in a mostly positive sense – rabbi from Nazareth) don’t get out from under this lot and form their own church.

    But, as I’ve said elsewhere, we don’t do reformation any more than we do social revolution.

  27. Sean Brady exposed for protecting child rapist so what?. Granted this one took me by surprise, but he`s only one of many and not just within the RC church. You only have to look as far as the Aras and the council of state.

    Rightly Brady has been proven to have no moral standing and if I were a RC, I wouldn`t want him as my spiritual leader. However I do have a say in a democracy about the holders of public office and its time that those who protected Smyth were exposed.

  28. Whether Brady resigns or not is irrelevant.

    Much more to the point is the power his organisation has in our schools and hospitals.

  29. When will this filth end? The thing that was Brendan Smith should never have been born. I can not comprehend how any Human can abuse a seven year old Child. It and it’s ilk are not human .These acts are so grossly beyond utter disgust that they should be indeed cast into the sea . I would leave off the Millstone .. They would die too soon .

  30. Also – the deference of the State (e.g. Woods and that carry on) must cease today.

    Patsy McGarry wrote in the IT today about Diarmuid Martin, and how he has gone to ground since Rome.
    He seems to have been muzzled??

  31. For those who wish to have nothing further to do with the Catholic Church, go to and complete the “Declaration of Defection” form which you must sent to the Diocesan Office and such defection will be noted on your baptismal cert. There is no point complaining on an anonymous internet forum if people are not prepared to act.

  32. If Brady had been a Muslim what would have happened?
    If Brady had been a Jew what would have happened?
    If Brady had been CoI what would have happened?
    If Brady had been a social worker what would have happened?
    If Brady had been a scout leader what would have happened?
    If Brady had been a teacher what would have happened?
    If Brady had been a football coach what would have happened?
    If Brady had been a candle stick maker what would have happened?
    Brady is a man. Pathetic maybe but a man. We have to bring him and the rest of them them out of their bunkers. Strip away the Christian disguise, put them in a pair of jeans and t shirt, look at what they did in court and then judge them the way the rest of us would be judged. When I see that happening I will start to believe there is some hope for this country.

  33. Don’t forget that Brady is precluded by his religion from regarding Brendan Smith as a brute. An insane brute rendered incalculably more dangerous by evolution. He is required to believe that a spark of divinity still resided in the soul of Brendan Smith and that he was somehow redeemable. Add this juju to his instincts to protect the church and he, and others like him, will never devolve power to secular authorities.
    It was a sad day whenever the church clawed its way back from the Jacobins who handed the priests a piece of paper saying…” sign here sunshine… you work for us now “

  34. I believe that applies to all Christians.

    Incidentally, and on a lighter note, do you know that your use of the word “whenever” in that sentence tells me a great deal about you?

  35. Sorry for having been born in the 6, Ulster or whatever.
    Sheesh !!
    And I didn’t imply , I hope , that there exists a sect of Christians somehow free of their obligation to defer to secular law.

  36. It’s just a remark, not a criticism.

    The point about the Christians is that they’re all supposed to believe that a spark of divinity still resides in the souls of their fellow men, no matter how depraved.

  37. Aye.. youse Limerick wans are very pass remarkable. Ask the time and get asked why ye don’t have a watch !

  38. I know. Some of us humourless norners have a sense of humour.
    However my original point still stands. It is pointless to ask for Cardinal Bradys resignation as he has no real understanding of the nature of the offences of a brute like Brendan Smith. It’s his admission that he failed to understand this that I want to hear; not a resignation leaving the original lack of understanding in place.
    And “whenevers” aside, the nature of the preamble to Bunreacht nahÉireann demonstrates exactly how the church(es) clawed their way back to power.

  39. I have to agree with you about the sectarian nature of the preamble to the constitution. It’s a disgrace.

  40. I have been told that in the diocese of Ferns the bishop asked the people attending mass to contribute to the collection of money to pay the church’s legal fees!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  41. 1921 – A darkness swept across the land.
    A peasant population can never really, properly control a country.
    There is a line of thought being discussed that it is through the upbringing or even genetic malfunction on a bleak damp island. Whatever corruption happened in the gene pool the evil manifested itself through the priesthood. But these things where not priests, they where men disguised. But in all sections of Irish society it is there lurking. look deeper. The church is being used as a scapegoat by boring old Richard Dawkins fans. search and ye shall find.

  42. Don’t know where to put this but it should interest those people following the church’s decline;

  43. This from todays Irish Times;

    Bishop says kids ‘spontaneously gay’

    A Brazilian archbishop has courted controversy by claiming that adolescents are “spontaneously homosexual” and in need of guidance, while society at large is paedophile.

    Archbishop Dadeus Grings — a conservative priest who has made a number of similar controversial statements in the past — told the O Globo newspaper at a Brazilian bishops conference that society’s woes are being reflected in the sex abuse scandal enveloping the Roman Catholic Church.

    Full article here;

  44. He needs to be spontaneously kicked in the balls.
    I always think how you see society, others around you, is a reflection or projection of your own feelings. In other words, he’s probably a paedophile if he thinks society at large is paedophilic.

  45.– — father maurice dooley is a vile unnatural , man running around with that daft book called canon law made by men, get the beano it has more authority and moral standing than that babylonian religion you beguile the blind with vestmants and dagon fish hats it is what it looks daft in the extreme,,,what has the stuttering actor brady have to say about his alter boys commments ?

  46. They choose their victims, the poor, they brainwash them, they rape their
    children, they paralize them with fear, then expect them to keep them in
    the state to which they have become accustomed, the french got rid of

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