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DUBLIN - Senior politicians on both sides of the Irish border called Thursday for the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland to resign over allegations of covering up clerical abuse in the 1970s.
The Republic of Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore said Cardinal Sean Brady's position was untenable after a BBC documentary accused him of failing to act when alerted to abuse allegations when he was a young priest.
"It is my own personal view that anybody who did not deal with the scale of the abuse we have seen in this case should not hold a position of authority," Gilmore told parliament.
In Northern Ireland, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he was "dismayed" by the new allegations and the cardinal should consider stepping down.
"Ultimately Cardinal Brady's response is a matter for himself and the Church, but it is a very grave situation for survivors of abuse, for the Catholic Church and for Catholics across Ireland," McGuinness told the BBC.
Brady insisted on Wednesday that he would not resign, arguing that the documentary exaggerated his role in an investigation into notorious pedophile Father Brendan Smyth.
Smyth is one of the highest-profile cases in the Irish clerical abuse scandal because after allegations against him came to light, he went on to assault children elsewhere in Ireland, Scotland and the United States.
The cardinal first faced calls to resign in 2010 after it emerged that he had made two of Smyth's victims sign oaths of silence and agree to talk to no one about their interviews except authorized clergy.
But the BBC said it had now emerged that Brady had covered up details of other children who were being molested, which were supplied to him by one of the two children he swore to secrecy, Brendan Boland, who was then 14.
Brady however described the claims as "false and misleading", saying that he was not leading the investigation but was merely asked to be a "note-taker" for more senior priests.
"With others, I feel betrayed that those who had the authority in the Church to stop Brendan Smyth failed to act on the evidence I gave them," Brady said.
"However, I also accept that I was part of an unhelpful culture of deference and silence in society, and the Church, which thankfully is now a thing of the past."
The Republic of Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country, has been rocked by a number of landmark reports on child sex abuse stretching back decades, and on Church leaders' complicity in covering it up.