Belfast Telegraph

Sean Brady furore sparks £40m Catholic Church pay out

By Jim Cusack

The Catholic Church is believed to have paid out up to €50m (£40m) in compensation to abuse victims since it was revealed former Cardinal Sean Brady had direct involvement in swearing two of the victims of paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth to secrecy.

Senior legal sources said there was a rush to settle the bulk of up to 300 high court cases in the Republic in which the former Archbishop of Armagh was nominally named as lead defendant on behalf of the Church.

Many of the cases had been before the court for more than a decade – some for up to 16 years – as the Church stonewalled the plaintiffs.

The case that exposed Brady's direct involvement, where he was the note-taker in a case involving the boys raped by Smyth, had been before Dublin's High Court for 13 years.

However, since Brady's involvement came to light in March 2010, a considerable number of the cases that had been before the courts for years have been reported on official records as ending with "no orders made in this case".

Legal sources say this is the usual sign that a case has been settled out of court.

Such settlements are also usually contingent on the plaintiffs accepting confidentiality clauses, legally preventing them from speaking publicly about their abuse.

One senior legal source said it was likely the total amount in settlements was between "€40m to €50m".

In cases of "serious" abuse, individual settlements of up to and over €250,000 (£200,000) have been made, but most compensation payments are thought to be below this figure.

Many are known to have been in the €100,000 (£80,000) region.

Forty-three of the cases citing Brady, who retired earlier this month, as defendant also named as co-defendant Sister Helena O'Donoghue, Provincial of the Religious Sisters of Mercy. Both were sued in a representative capacity.

There is no suggestion that Sister O'Donoghue ever attempted to swear any victims to secrecy.

These cases, involving 32 females and 11 males, are understood to relate mainly to the Goldenbridge and other orphanages run by the order.

All are recorded as being settled with "no orders" by the High Court.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said that there would be no comment from the former cardinal or his nominated successor Archbishop Eamon Martin in relation to the compensation payments.

He pointed to Brady's remarks in announcing his retirement when he said: "Pope Francis's motto: 'Miserando atque eligendo', challenges and inspires me with its message of God having mercy and at the same time choosing us, despite our sinfulness. It reminds me that I too need to say sorry and to ask forgiveness. And I do so again, now."

Factfile

After two victims were sworn to secrecy over abuse in 1975, Brendan Smyth went on to rape and molest dozens more victims. He was arrested by the RUC in 1994 and convicted for offences in Northern Ireland. He died aged 70 in prison in 1997.

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