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CARDINAL DALY'S LETTER [re Fr Brendan Smyth]

The Irish Times - Saturday, October 12, 1996 - from JIM CANTWELL

Sir, - In his opinion column comment on Cardinal Daly's retirement (October 4th) Fintan O'Toole quoted a passage from the Cardinal's reply to a letter of complaint by a member of a family of children abused by Fr Brendan Smyth. Mr O'Toole declared the passage to be evidence of "a direct failure of authority" by the Cardinal, but omitted to explain how he had reached this conclusion.

He simply asserted that the publication of the letter (almost two years ago) "would have led to the immediate departure of any other office holder". Strangely, and in my opinion unfairly, he failed to give the date and context of this letter, although it would have been extremely difficult for your readers to understand it without this information.

I write with some reluctance, conscious of the pain and hurt suffered by Fr Smyth's victims. However, in justice to the Cardinal, it is necessary to restate an essential fact about that letter, a fact already on the public records. It was written in February 1991. Almost a year before that date, in March 1990. the following events also matters of public record had occurred:

1. The RUC had been informed by a social worker in the Catholic Family Welfare Services of Down and Connor Diocese, where Dr Daly was then Bishop, that the family had made specific complaints against Fr Smyth and a criminal investigation had begun.

2. The statutory health and social services had been informed, at the specific instigation of that diocesan agency.

3. Professional advice and help had been provided for the victim and the family.

4. Fr Smyth's religious superior had been informed by Dr Daly about the complaints, had accepted full responsibility for him and had undertaken to deal effectively with him. -

Yours, etc,

Catholic Press and Information Office,
169 Booterstown Avenue, Co Dublin.


Paedophile Revelations
The Irish Times - Friday, August 29, 1997

Sir, - I refer to the article, "Paedophile Revelations Shattered a Sacred Bond", by Fintan O'Toole (August 23rd). Already, in a letter in the Irish Times (October 4th 1996) in reply to a previous article by Fintan O'Toole, I pointed out that, contrary to what Fintan O'Toole claims, the diocesan agency which then acted for Cardinal Daly - the Down and Connor Catholic Family Welfare Society - assisted the family in reporting to the police abuse committed by Brendan Smyth. In March 1990 formal statements were made to the RUC by members of the same family and a criminal investigation was under way.

This, as I pointed out, was eleven months before the letter to which your columnist refers. Yet, Fintan O'Toole, in his latest article, repeats the accusation that Cardinal Daly "failed to call in the police".

In spite of my earlier letter Fintan O'Toole persists in making what is a very injurious charge against Cardinal Daly. It is important that, once more, the truth of this matter be put on record. Hence, my present letter. -

Yours, etc.,

Catholic Press & Information Office,
Co Dublin.