Cardinal Sean Daly brokered secret deal with RUC to arrest Brendan Smyth
Published 08/04/2010 | 00:10
New details of a secret deal that led to the arrest and imprisonment of notorious paedophile priest Brendan Smyth have emerged.
The deal was brokered in 1994 by Cardinal Cahal Daly, who was exasperated by the actions of an abbot who refused to deal effectively with complaints against serial child sex abuser Smyth.
Cardinal Daly agreed with the North's chief constable, Hugh Annesley, to end the church's previous practice of informing only the Vatican and to encourage bishops to report complaints to the police.
This Annesley-Daly deal triggered a fundamental change in the Irish hierarchy's approach to clerical paedophilia, according to a retired RUC detective who interrogated Smyth.
The Catholic Church then began to put aside substantial amounts of money in anticipation of compensation claims.
This was just months before the current Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, was ordained coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh in February 1995.
Cardinal Brady has been under pressure in recent weeks after admitting he was at meetings in 1975 where two abused children signed vows of silence over complaints against Smyth.
The previously unknown timing of the 1994 deal points to the fact that Fr Smyth was still being discussed at the top level of the church hierarchy at that time.
And as assistant archbishop with right of succession to the primacy, Cardinal Brady would have been appraised by Cardinal Daly of the horrendous list of victims abused by Smyth since 1945.
Retired RUC Detective Superintendent Kevin Sheehy disclosed details of the deal in his memoir and confirmed to the Irish Independent that it would have been struck in autumn 1994.
Mr Sheehy said that it came about because Cardinal Daly was increasingly frustrated by failures of the Norbertine Abbot of Kilnacrott Abbey in Co Cavan to hand Smyth over to the RUC.
Cardinal Daly, who died last December, had contacted Abbot Kevin Smith in February 1990, when the allegations against Smyth first came to his attention. The cardinal did so again in March 1990, February 1991, and August 1992.
Each time, Abbot Smith undertook to deal effectively with the matter.
Cardinal Daly was following canon law in respecting the day-to-day autonomy of a religious order -- which lies outside the control of a diocesan bishop.
But an exasperated Cardinal Daly finally overruled the abbot, ordering Smyth to present himself to the civil authorities in the North.
Mr Sheehy said: "I strongly suspect that the cardinal contacted Rome to explain that, in the delicate context of Ulster, it was necessary for him to cooperate fully with the civil authorities."
He added: "Cardinal Daly and his solicitors met with the chief constable of the day, Sir Hugh Annesley, to agree on a process whereby suspect clerical paedophiles would be made available to the police for interview."
Mr Sheehy also claimed the cardinal was advised to set aside a multi-million pound sum for forthcoming claims against offending clerics.
Mr Sheehy's journal shows that the deal was struck in September-October 1994, only a few months before Fr Brady, the former rector of the Irish Pontifical College in Rome, was named as Cardinal Daly's successor by Pope John Paul II.