By Claire O’Sullivan
Irish Examiner
May 04, 2012

Specialist detectives are reviewing claims that Cardinal Sean Brady knew in 1975 that five children were being abused by one of the country’s most dangerous paedophiles, Fr Brendan Smyth.

A senior police chief in the North said a decision on whether to launch a full-scale investigation into the claims levelled against Cardinal Brady would not be taken until all evidence was assessed.

Police Service of Northern Ireland assistant chief constable George Hamilton said a specialist team already investigating alleged institutional abuse in the region was reviewing the BBC documentary to see if there was prima facie evidence that an offence had taken place.

He said officers would “do the right thing” based on where the evidence led them.

“For the last number of months there has been an investigation ongoing under an operation called Operation Charwell into alleged institutional abuse and this is really the context in which we will examine the material that was made available through the BBC documentary,” he said.

“Before we launch into an investigation or make knee-jerk responses to that, we will take an objective, evidence-based assessment of the material that was in that programme.”

Mr Hamilton said he would not comment on whether the police had plans to interview Cardinal Brady.

The officer confirmed that the offence of withholding information was on the statute in Northern Ireland in 1975 but said it had not yet been established whether the documentary provided prima facie evidence that the law had been broken.

Senior politicians on both sides of the border yesterday came out strongly against Cardinal Brady remaining in his position at the helm of the Catholic Church in Ireland given his role in failing to protect the children named as likely abuse victims of Brendan Smyth.

The beleaguered cardinal vowed to remain as Primate of All-Ireland despite renewed attacks on him over accounts he has given of his role in interviewing two of Smyth’s young victims.

Tánaiste Eamonn Gilmore said clerics who did not act at to protect children should resign.

“It is my personal view that anybody who did not deal with the scale of the abuse that we have seen in this case should not hold a position of authority,” Mr Gilmore said.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn called for the resignation of the cardinal because of his position as the most senior cleric of a Church which is patron of 92% of the 3,200 primary schools in Ireland.

The North’s First Minister Martin McGuinness said he had first urged the cardinal to consider his position two years ago when details of the secret inquiry first emerged. He repeated these calls yesterday.

“Speaking personally, I believe he should reflect on the wisdom of this position which will leave many Catholics wondering whether anything is to be done by the leadership of the Catholic Church to ring the changes many believe are required at such a sad time for all,” he said.

Fianna Fáil leader, Michael Martin said the cardinal should consider his position, given the enormity and scale of the abuse perpetrated by Smyth.

“I think his authority has been very seriously undermined with what has happened,” Mr Martin said.

In the 1975 internal church inquiry Brendan Boland, a then 14-year-old, told investigators that at least five children had been attacked by Smyth.

The cardinal claimed his role was as notary and to submit a report and he blamed superiors in the Church for failing to stop the evil priest abusing over the next 20 years.