(Celtic cross at dawn in Knock, Ireland, 28 July 2005)

The head of the Irish Catholic Church apologised on Monday to victims of sexual abuse but rejected calls to resign after a TV documentary reported the cleric failed to warn parents their children were being sexually abused by a priest in 1975.

The documentary, broadcast by Britain’s BBC on Tuesday, said child victim Brendan Boland gave Cardinal Sean Brady the names and addresses of children being abused by paedophile Brendan Smyth during a Church investigation but Brady failed to act to ensure their safety.

“I apologise without hesitation to him (Brendan Boland) and to any victim,” Brady told state-broadcaster RTE on Monday.

Three out of the four main parties in the Republic of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have called on Brady to consider his position. “I’ve heard those calls but I’ve also heard the many, many calls from people who want me to stay … I’m not changing my position,” Brady told RTE.

Brady said last week that the documentary was seriously misleading, saying it had exaggerated his role in the inquiry.