18 Mar 2010

Ireland's Catholic head apologises over abuse failings

2:40 pm on 18 March 2010

The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, has apologised for his role in mishandling the case of a serial child abuser.

As a priest in 1975, Cardinal Brady was at meetings where two children were asked to sign vows of silence over complaints against a paedophile priest, Brendan Smyth.

Smyth was eventually convicted in the 1990s over dozens of offences against children.

Delivering his St Patrick's Day mass, Cardinal Brady told the congregation he is ashamed he has not always upheld the values he believes in.

Northern Ireland's deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, has said Cardinal Brady "should consider his position", and questioned how many other children were asked to stay silent.

However, Cardinal Brady has rejected calls for him to resign.