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Head of Ireland's Catholics refuses to quit over child abuse scandal

The beleaguered head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, has vowed to stay on as he attempted to distance himself from a secret inquiry into one of the country's most dangerous paedophiles.

Even though he was part of the 1975 investigation into allegations Father Brendan Smyth had attacked at least five children, the Cardinal blamed superiors for failing to stop the priest abusing over the next 20 years. Rejecting growing demands for his resignation, he declared: "There's no cloaking over or brushing under the carpet."

Cardinal Brady, due to retire in 2014, faced renewed demands to quit after it emerged in a BBC documentary that a then 14-year-old victim of Smyth's warned him in secret interviews that it was likely the late priest was abusing five others.

"I was shocked, appalled and outraged when I first discovered in the mid-1990s that Brendan Smyth had gone on to abuse others," he said.

The Primate insisted responsibility for the Smyth scandal does not lie with him. He blamed Fr Kevin Smith, the superior in Smyth's Norbertine Order. He also claimed his role in the internal Church inquiry had been deliberately exaggerated and misrepresented in a BBC documentary aired last night.

It was not until 1994 that Smyth was convicted in a Belfast court of 17 counts of sexual abuse. Three years later in Dublin, he pleaded guilty to another 74 counts of child sexual abuse. He died in prison in 1997.

John Kelly, of the Irish Survivors of Child Abuse, said the Cardinal's position is "untenable".