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Smyth's victims to take case against gardaí

Paedophile priest Brendan Smyth leaves Limavady Courthouse in 1997

THE last victim of Brendan Smyth is among several people taking legal action against gardaí for their failure to stop the notorious paedophile priest.

The woman, who does not wish to be named, will take civil proceedings with a number of other victims following revelations that officers in Dublin knew about Smyth's paedophile activities in the early 1970s.

The woman, now in her mid-thirties, was just 13 when she was groomed by Smyth in the Republic in 1993.

Belfast solicitor Kevin Winters said yesterday several of Smyth's victims asked his firm "to write to the Garda commissioner to find out why they didn't act on a letter sent to Finglas Garda station in 1973".

"Our clients are shocked to learn that the document didn't alert the gardaí and the authorities to the very real risk of future abuse by Smyth," he said.

Smyth was on the run from the RUC following his arrest in 1991 when he met the young victim during a visit to her next-door neighbour.

He was staying at the Norbertine Order's Kilnacrott Abbey in Co Cavan at the time.

He gave her gifts including sweets and necklaces and, shortly before his arrest in 1994, sent her religious postcards and told her he needed "her help".

The victim, who last encountered Smyth in December 1993, was abused while Smyth was awaiting extradition to the north. The mishandling of the extradition request led to to the collapse of the Republic's Fianna Fáil–Labour coalition government.

The woman said she is also considering taking a legal case against the Irish government.

"I definitely feel I have a strong case," she said.

Last night she also called for Cardinal Sean Brady's arrest following his evidence to the Historical Abuse Inquiry (HIA) in Banbridge, Co Down.

She said the former primate's responses were "robotic" and "lacking empathy" and that his comments were "too little, too late".

"If he felt he had failed and that the Church had failed the children, he should have stepped down," she said.

"I think they're (the Church) trying to save face. He doesn't have anything to lose now. He's no longer head of the Church in Ireland."

The woman said Cardinal Brady should be "held accountable" after he became aware of allegations against Smyth in 1975.

"Why has he not been arrested? Why has he not been questioned?" she said. "He put children in danger."

She also hit out at the Church's handling of a civil claim she took against Smyth's Norbertine Order, Cardinal Brady and Bishop of Kilmore Dr Leo O'Reilly in 2010.

The woman said after years of trying to settle her claim, she was asked to enter mediation in April.

"I found it strange they wanted to go into mediation," she said. "Was it to make them look good, so they could say look how we're trying to help people? Or did they want it settled before anyone else could be held accountable?"

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