Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady has confirmed he attended meetings where two alleged victims of the notorious paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth signed an oath of silence.
In a statement, a spokesman for the cardinal said Dr Brady had been investigating complaints of abuse against Fr Smyth by the two teenagers in his capacity as secretary to the Bishop of Kilmore in 1975.
The statement said the cardinal had believed the complaints he received and had provided the information he received to his then bishop, Dr Francis McKiernan.
“In 1975, Fr Sean Brady, as he then was, was the part-time secretary to the then Bishop of Kilmore, the late Bishop Francis McKiernan,” the statement said.
“At the direction of Bishop McKiernan, Fr Brady attended two meetings: in the Dundalk meeting Fr Brady acted as recording secretary for the process involved and in the Ballyjamesduff meeting he asked the questions and recorded the answers given.
“At those meetings the complainants signed undertakings, on oath, to respect the confidentiality of the information gathering process. As instructed, and as a matter of urgency, Fr Brady passed both reports to Bishop McKiernan for his immediate action.”
Fr Smyth was at the centre of one of the first paedophile priest scandals to hit the Catholic Church in Ireland.
The Northern Ireland-born cleric was convicted of molesting dozens of boys and girls over a 40-year period.
Despite allegations being investigated by church officials as far back as 1975 it was almost 20 years before Smyth was jailed.
The Fianna Fáil/Labour administration collapsed in late 1994 after a political crisis arising from the State’s delay in extraditing Smyth to the North to face charges of child abuse.
When Smyth finally appeared before Belfast Crown Court he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing children for more than three decades between 1964 and 1988 and was jailed for four years.
In 1997, he appeared before the courts in the Republic where he admitted another 74 counts of child sexual abuse over a 35-year period to 1993.
A member of the Norbertine Catholic religious order, Smyth died in prison of a heart attack in 1997 at the age of 70, four years and one month into a seven year prison sentence for child abuse.