The High Court has ruled today (Friday, February 28) that three victims who suffered abuse by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth but who had previously settled cases in 1998 may not now proceed with fresh legal action against the Catholic Church.
The victims had alleged the office of the Bishop of Kilmore and now Cardinal Seán Brady were negligent in not taking the necessary steps to prevent Smyth from continuing to abuse children in the 1970s and 1980s.
Bishop of Kilmore Leo O'Reilly was being sued as successor to previous bishop Francis McKiernan, who served in the Diocese but who had failed to report to gardaí that signed complaints had been made against Smyth regarding his assaults on other children arising from two meetings in 1975.
The case against both defendants was brought in 2011 in the High Court, 13 years after separate cases taken by the complainants in Belfast were settled.
In those Belfast cases, the siblings had sued Smyth’s religious order, the Norbertines, of Kilnacrott Abbey, Ballyjamesduff, Cavan, for failing to take a number of steps, including warning parents about Smyth or stopping him from operating as a bona fide priest under the auspices of the order.
Lawyers for Bishop O'Reilly argued before the High Court the case could not proceed because of earlier settlements reached.
Under the settlements, one of the victims accepted €30,000.
Lawyers for the victims say the content of the 1975 interviews was "actively concealed" in their court proceedings in the 1990s.
In his ruling Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said said counsel for the plaintiffs were mistaken in suggesting some new cause of action arose from the revelation about the 1975 meeting.
He was therefore satisfied that the plaintiff had failed to demonstrate their case.