Religious leader quits over 'errors' in abuse case

The head of an Irish Catholic religious order has resigned after admitting he allowed a paedophile priest to continue working with children long after his child abuse became known.

In a statement, Abbot Kevin Smith, 64, of the Norbertine Community's Holy Trinity Abbey in Co Cavan, confirmed he had quit after 24 years in the post.

He acknowledged 'errors and failures' in dealing with the affair.

He expressed his 'deep sorrow and concern' for the victims of Father Brendan Smyth, a Norbertine priest for 40 years who was jailed in June for four years for sexual assaults on eight children from west Belfast over a 24-year period.

Despite knowing of the priest's paedophile activities, the abbot responded by re-assigning him to new posts without warning potential employers in job references of the danger he posed.

As a result there were further complaints of assaults against boys and girls after Smyth was sent to Rhode Island and Dakota in the United States from 1979 to 1983.

Cardinal Cahal Daly, the Irish Catholic Primate, has confirmed he received complaints about Smyth as far back as 1989. He has claimed that church structure meant only the Norbertine abbot was empowered to deal with Smyth.

The case has sparked a national outcry in Ireland, focusing attention on other alleged child abuse scandals involving clergymen. A government report is expected soon into alleged assaults at Madonna House, a Dublin children's home run by a religious order.

The Smyth case has also involved Harry Whelehan, the Irish attorney-general, whose 1992 decision to seek an injunction barring a pregnant 14- year-old rape victim from going to Britain for an abortion sparked an outcry.

Irish newspapers alleged that Mr Whelehan took no action on a file seeking Smyth's extradition from the Irish Republic to face charges in Northern Ireland. It was allegedly sent to him in May last year and involved offences going back 30 years, according to the Sunday Press newspaper.

Official legal sources were quoted as saying the proceedings had been shelved because 'we were told that he was going back to the North of his own free will. Then we heard he had disappeared'.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks