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McGuinness asks Brady to consider his position

By Jonathan McCambridge

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness last night stepped up the pressure on beleaguered Cardinal Sean Brady by calling on the primate to consider his position over an alleged cover-up of child abuse.

Cardinal Brady has been under intense pressure to resign from his position as Catholic Primate of All-Ireland since it was revealed he was present at meetings where a young boy and girl were asked to sign oaths of secrecy over allegations they were abused by notorious paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth.

Speaking in Washington Martin McGuinness described the Cardinal’s situation as “grave”.

He said: “I think many Catholics will be dismayed at the news that they are hearing now almost on a daily basis.

“It is a very grave situation which is before the Catholic Church and Catholic people in the North. I do think Cardinal Brady needs to consider his position.”

The Catholic Church yesterday attempted to defuse the spiralling controversy by releasing more details about why Cardinal Brady asked child abuse victims to sign secrecy agreements.

The church said two boys were asked to sign oaths “to avoid potential collusion” in evidence gathering. It added this would ensure that the complaints could “withstand challenge”.

The statement also emphasised Cardinal Brady’s junior position at the time of the inquiry, stating that he had “no decision making powers”.

The Church statement does not explain why neither Cardinal Brady nor his superiors at the time failed to share their information with the police.

But its explanation has been rejected by campaigners on behalf of abuse victims.

The One In Four victims' group executive director Maeve Lewis said: “No-one is disputing that Cardinal Brady was not the most senior person in the investigation into Brendan Smyth.

“But on the other hand, he was a man in his 30s, he must have known what happened was wrong and was a crime.”

Victims of abuse who were raped by Smyth have said they could have been spared if he had been apprehended in 1975.

In the Republic last night Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin admitted that a nationwide investigation may be the only way for the truth to emerge about the scale of the scandal.

He said: “It may be necessary if we cannot get a way of ensuring that the truth is out and people know that the truth is out,” he said.

“Brendan Smyth should have been stopped from the very first time he abused a child,” he said.

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