A docu-drama of how a Belfast family helped expose the notorious child sex abuser Fr Brendan Smyth has aired on RTE television. 'Brendan Smyth - Betrayal of Trust' is based on a book by journalist Chris Moore.

The two-hour documentary tells of how a Belfast family not only helped expose the child abuser Irish cleric Brendan Smyth, but how it led to the fall of the Fianna Fail/Labour government in 1994 and later the exposure of widespread clerical child abuse in the Irish Catholic Church.

The prgramme opens with a scene from 1975 depicting the Catholic primate, Cardinal Seán Brady, then a 36-year-old canon lawyer, swearing two teenage boys to secrecy as he concludes his investigation into their allegations of abuse by Fr Smyth, reports the Irish Times.

Even though Cardinal Brady believed the boys and informed his superior, the late Dr Francis McKiernan, neither Cardinal or Bishop had reported the crimes to the authorities.

This meant that Smyth's sexual abuse of children continued copiously until 1994 when he was finally jailed in Northern Irelan for the abuse of four members of the Belfast family.

When allegations were made against Fr Smyth, his religious superiors took him out of that parish and moved him to another parish around Ireland as well as to the United States, Wales and Italy.

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The Irish Times reports that when Cardinal Brady’s role in that canon law investigation emerged last year he said he would only resign if asked to do so by the pope. Pope Benedict has made no such request. Adding that the ardinal agreed he knew he was dealing with crimes at the time of the canonical inquiry, but said: “I did not feel it was my responsibility to denounce the actions of Brendan Smyth to the police.”

A woman who was serially abused by Smyth for four years following that canonical inquiry conducted by Cardinal Brady in 1975 told The Irish Times, “I was raped, abused and had pictures taken of my body. I was 13 when it began in 1974 and it went on for five years. If he had done something, my life would have been so different,” she said.

Two other schoolgirls Smyth abused at the time have since taken their own lives.

Father Brendan Smyth