TÁNAISTE EAMON GILMORE has said suggested that Cardinal Sean Brady should “not hold a position of authority” as he sharply criticised the failure to deal with allegations of abuse made against the paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth.
In the strongest words yet from a government minister following the revelations that the current Primate of All Ireland failed to act on allegations made by abuse victim Brendan Boland in 1975, Gilmore said this was “another horrific episode” in the clerical sex abuse scandal.
During Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this morning, he said:
It is my own 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.
Gilmore was reacting to questions from Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea and said that he did not believe there was two parallel systems of law in Ireland.
He said: “What we saw and what was reported was another horrific episode in the failure of senior figures in the Catholic Church to protect children and to report the rape and abuse of children.
“The rape of a child, the abuse of a child is a crime. It was a crime then. The place for crimes to be prosecuted and dealt with is in our courts.
“I don’t believe there is a parallel system of law that deals with these matters and anybody who had knowledge about the rape and abuse of a child has a duty to report it to authorities.”
Gilmore told the Dáil that the government was committed to legislation that would make it an offence for anyone who has knowledge about the abuse of children and not report it to the relevant authorities.
He added: “The Children First Bill will require that a priest, as an apostolic member, will be required to report concerns about abuse directly to the HSE. The withholding of information about sexual abuse will itself be a criminal offence.”
Gilmore denied that his words were in sharp contrast to Taoiseach Enda Kenny who said yesterday that Cardinal Brady should “reflect” on the revelations contained in a BBC documentary broadcast this week.
“I know and everybody who has heard the Taoiseach speak on it, knows exactly where he stands on it,” the Labour Party leader said while referencing Kenny’s strong criticism of the Catholic Church following the publication of the Cloyne report.
Gilmore received a round of applause from his government colleagues following his remarks.
Anybody affected or distressed by the current focus on child abuse can contact Connect Counselling for free on 1800 477 477 (and from Northern Ireland 00800 477 477 77). Opening hours are from 6 to 10pm Wednesday to Sunday.