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Priest paid off woman who said he raped her

Under-fire Cardinal Sean Brady admitted last night he was sued by a young woman who accused a priest in his Armagh diocese of raping her.

The case was settled in January when the woman received £45,000 from the priest Fr Joseph Quinn over the allegation he raped her in 1997.

A day after being quizzed by police the priest was suspended by Dr Brady from his ministry, banned from saying Mass, hearing confessions and having access to minors.

The priest later went on trial for the sexual assault of another teenager but was acquitted.

Dr Brady, as Archbishop of Armagh, was named as a co-defendant in a civil action taken by a woman because the priest worked in his diocese.

She was 17 when she alleges she was raped in 1997, but Dr Brady denied he sought to impose a secrecy deal over the case.

In an interview the alleged victim yesterday said she was gagged from speaking about the settlement by the priest's lawyers.

But crucially for the Cardinal, the woman said she didn't want to see him resign, calling him the “best of a bad bunch”.

She added: “I don't see any advantage for him to resign. He has proven to me over the last few months that he has taken some actions and perhaps he is the best person to move things forward. Who would replace him? He is the best of a bad bunch.”

The victim said her father had pleaded with Dr Brady to drop the secrecy clause which the priest wanted to protect his family.

It is understood the cardinal had a separate legal team and the inclusion of the secrecy clause was not up to him.

The disclosure comes as Dr Brady continues to come under pressure to quit as head of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

He has come under strong criticism from victims and campaigners over his role in silencing two victims of Fr Brendan Smyth.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin would be the favourite to become Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland if Cardinal Sean Brady resigns over the Fr Brendan Smyth scandal.

A cross-border move from Dublin to Armagh would make Archbishop Martin the official leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, elevating him from his current status as its number two.

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