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In my recent article [1] I said I believed that Paul William's libelous article about Nora Wall - Sunday World, 11 July 1999 [2] - was suggested by a passage in Chris Moore's book "Betrayal of Trust: The Father Brendan Smyth Affair and the Catholic Church" (1995). In particular I referred to a passage on page 133 of Moore's book which claimed that a Catholic priest in an un-named childcare institution was a friend of Father Smyth's and when Smyth visited "he would supply a number of boys for his guest's sexual amusement." In his Sunday World article Paul Williams claimed that Nora Wall had procured children for Fr Brendan Smyth i.e. almost the same allegation.

Of course there is an alternative explanation for the very similar accusations i.e. BOTH are based on the climate of anti-clerical hysteria that has pervaded Ireland since the early 1990s. After all there were a number of false allegations of murder (and mass murder) against the Christian Brothers during the period 1999 to 2004 approx. Most of these relate to times when no boy died of any cause so I call them "Murder of the Undead" or "Victimless Murders". However there is no need to suppose that there was an "original" bogus allegation and that the others are based on it. It is far more likely that all the child killing claims emerged spontaneously out of the climate of hysteria.

Can we say the same about the claims made by Chris Moore and Paul Williams?

The following (second) extract from Moore's book "Betrayal of Trust" suggests otherwise. It describes the experience of "Siobhan" (sister of "Danny" according to Chris Moore).

"Betrayal of Trust: The Father Brendan Smyth Affair and the Catholic Church - pages 126/27

"Siobhan thought that the move to [Middletown Convent in] County Armagh had finally broken the link with Father Smyth, that for the first time in eight years she was free from sexual abuse. The joy at the thought of not having to see the priest again was short-lived. She recalls the day she was told a priest was coming to see her, a friend of the family who apparently had been a regular visitor at Nazareth House. Siobhan says she was petrified at the thought of having to see the priest again and such was her distress at the prospect of being alone with him that she somehow found courage to tell staff that she did not want to be alone with him, that she did not like him. She did not say the priest had been abusing her and the nun did not ask any questions but assured Siobhan that someone would accompany her for the duration of the priest's visit.

Fr Smyth was led into a room to see Siobhan but this time the nun who had brought him from reception remained, leaving briefly only to make a cup of tea and making sure that the door to the kitchen was left open at all times, even remarking to Siobhan as she left, "If you need me call me." In the absence of the opportunity to continue his sexual assaults, the priest's conversation with Siobhan was decidedly muted. It was as if he realised he had been rumbled and that no matter how long he waited there was not going to be any time alone with her. He reached out his hand to present the girl with the bag of sweets he brought on every visit as he waited for tea to be served. These were eaten in an uneasy silence as Siobhan had nothing to communicate to the man she despised and the nun simply maintained a presence so that the child's wishes would be honoured. Once he had finished his tea and biscuits the priest stood up to say his farewells to Siobhan, wishing her well and squeezing a five-pound note into her hand as he made his way to the door. It was the last time that Siobhan saw him, until that day in January 1994, when he appeared on the television screen.

COMMENT: The above account is quite possibly true and is certainly not damaging to the [St Louis?] nuns who ran Middletown orphanage in Co. Armagh. However if you combine it with the lying story told by "Siobhan's" brother "Danny" then you have something that closely resembles the Sunday World libel about Nora Wall i.e. the claim that Father Brendan Smyth was a regular visitor to St Michaels in Cappoquin and that Nora Wall provided him with children to abuse.

Rory Connor
29 October 2007

[1] "Paul Williams, Father Brendan Smyth and Nora Wall" on on 23/10/07
[2] "Sunday World Apology for Libeling Nora Wall" on on 17/10/07