Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, has denied that he covered up a sex abuse scandal in the 1970s.
The case in question involves infamous pedophile Fr Brendan Smyth. In the mid 1990s Smyth pleaded guilty to 74 charges of child sex abuse between the years 1958 and 1993. He died in 1997 while serving a seven-year prison sentence.
Brady interviewed two of Smyth’s teenage victims in 1975.
The two teenagers in question signed confidentiality agreements not to divulge any information about the meetings.
Brady says that he was investigating claims made against Smyth, and said the oath of secrecy was to ensure that the investigation was carried out thoroughly.
He strongly denied the oath was an attempt to protect the church from a flood of child abuse claims.
"The reason for the oath was to give it (the interview process) credibility and strength in law and robustness against any challenge (from Smyth) because he (Bishop McKiernan) was going to use the evidence which this inquiry produced to take legal action," said Cardinal Brady.
It took another 12 years before Smyth was charged with sex crimes.
"Frankly I don’t believe that this is a resigning matter," Brady told The Irish TImes.
“I insist again I did act and acted effectively in that inquiry to produce the grounds for removing Fr. Smyth from ministry and specifically it was underlined he was not to hear confessions, and that was very important.”
Smyth was subsequently removed from his pastoral ministry, but Brady said he was not the "designated person" to report the child abuse to the authorities.
Three months ago, Brady said he would resign from his position if his failure to act against church child abuse allowed more children to be abused.
Child abuse victims Marie Collins, Andrew Madden and Colm O'Gorman said the Cardinal had "lost all moral authority or credibility" and stated it was time for Brady to resign.
"He knew in 1975 that Brendan Smyth was a child abuser but remained silent for the next 20 years," said Collins.
Collins has called on the government to extend the remit of the Murphy report to every diocese in the country.
Madden said there are now five Irish bishops known to be involved in the cover up of clerical abuse, "either by acts of commission or omission."