Thursday, July 04, 2024

Cavan priest responds to abuse survivor's questions

Smyth's grave set to remain at abbey ...

Work to demolish Kilnacrott Abbey has started with no plans to remove paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth's grave.

The priest who is part of a group who are developing a Catholic education and retreat centre on the site of the Kilnacrott Abbey has responded to comments made by one of Fr Brendan Smyth's survivors. 

Smyth was one of the country's first convicted paedophiles who, in the 1990s was found guilty of 43 counts of child sexual abuse in the North and pleaded guilty to 74 counts in the Republic.

He hid out from police in the North in Kilnacrott Abbey for a time and his botched extradition from the Republic collapsed the Albert Reynolds coalition government and almost brought down the fledgling Northern Ireland peace process. He was buried at dawn in Kilnacrott, near Ballyjamesduff after he died of a heart attack just months into a 12-year prison sentence.

Work to demolish the 100-year-old Abbey began at the end of last month as Catholic organisation Direction For Our Times begins the development of their new centre. Some had raised the issue of whether the prolific paedophile's grave would be moved from the site or whether it would remain as a stain on the site into the future.

Earlier this week, survivor Loretto Martin told the Joe Finnegan Show exhuming her abuser's remains would only trigger survivors but she asked some questions of Direction For Our Times including would the new centre be a place for dealing with every day family issues, providing therapy and support? 

Fr Darragh Connolly was offered the right to reply and explained the reason for keeping Smyth's grave at the abbey and answered Loretto's concerns: "It is a stain, not just on the site but it's a stain on the church and we dare, dare not forget what happened," Fr Connolly told Northern Sound, "We offer courses on faith development in the area of human development so that our response is that we will assist in teaching boundaries so that young people and people of any age will be able to respond when somebody is encroaching on their boundaries, when somebody is behaving in a way towards them which is inappropriate and potentially even dangerous."