Catholic order accepts Smyth abused children in their care
A Catholic religious order has accepted notorious paedophile priest Brendan Smyth abused children while they were in the care of nuns in the North, a lawyer told a public inquiry yesterday.
Smyth visited two south Belfast residential homes at the centre of the independent probe into wrongdoing stretching back decades. The serial molester was later convicted of dozens of child abuse charges.
More than 100 witnesses from Nazareth House and Nazareth Lodge have come forward to the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry, headed by a former judge, which is one of the largest investigations of its kind ever held in the UK.
Senior counsel to the inquiry, Christine Smith QC, said: “Sexual abuse of children was perpetrated by the now notorious Fr Brendan Smyth.
“There will be evidence given in this module that he abused children both in Nazareth House and in Nazareth Lodge in Belfast.”
Sr Brenda McCall, a senior figure in the Sisters of Nazareth order which ran the now closed Nazareth House and Nazareth Lodge in South Belfast, gave a statement to the inquiry.
Ms Smith said: “She states that the congregation accepts that Brendan Smyth did abuse children while they were in our care and continued to abuse some after they left our care.
“She also accepts that he visited both Nazareth House and Nazareth Lodge.”
Smyth was at the heart of one of the first paedophile priest scandals to envelop the Catholic Church in Ireland. He was ultimately convicted of dozens of offences against children over a 40-year period.
Outside the hearing Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan said: “It has already been established that among the abusers was notorious serial paedophile Father Brendan Smyth, who was allowed to use both children’s homes as a personal playground for his depravity.
“It is clear that the abuse suffered by the children at these two Belfast homes represents a monumental failure by both religious and state institutions in Northern Ireland.”
Thirteen institutions are being considered by the inquiry panel headed by Sir Anthony Hart, which is tasked with making recommendations to Stormont ministers on issues such as compensating alleged victims of physical and sexual abuse and neglect.