Abuse report: Victim of priest says ‘too little, too late’

A Northern Ireland woman who was sexually abused by a priest when she was just six years old has described the Ryan report as “too little, too late”.

The west Belfast woman, who now lives in Co Antrim, was the first person to speak out against the now notorious Fr Brendan Smyth in 1990. And following her brave example hundreds of others across Ireland, England and the United States came forward.

Smyth, a member of the Norbertine Catholic religious order, was later jailed for rape.

The woman, who does not want her identity revealed, said the publication of yesterday’s damning report would be of little comfort to the thousands of “abuse survivors”.

“The first thing is that it took nine years to complete the Ryan Report — that’s far too long. It should have been done 20 years ago because the Church was well aware of the abuse. They moved priests from parish to parish when allegations were made and they never went to the police.

“As far as I am concerned this is too little, too late,” she said.

She continued: “I was taken quite seriously because I went to social services and they have an obligation to investigate every allegation and they went to the police. I had no faith in going to my local parish. But the response from the Catholic Church was very poor and I really don’t think the lesson will ever be learnt.”