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Irish Cardinal Sean Baptist Brady arrives for a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican in this March 6, 2013 file photograph. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/files


DUBLIN (Reuters) - The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, whose career was plagued by scandal over the sexual abuse of children by clergy, said on Friday he had tendered his resignation, confirming his plan to retire on his 75th birthday.

Cardinal Sean Brady, who turns 75 on Saturday, will leave office once his resignation has been accepted by Pope Francis.

Brady had resisted calls by three of Ireland's four main parties to resign earlier over the sexual abuse scandal. Last year the Vatican appointed Monsignor Eamon Martin as "coadjutor" to run the day-to-day affairs of the Church in Ireland.

A BBC television documentary in 2012 reported that Brady had failed to warn parents their children were being sexually abused by a priest in 1975 after he had been given the information by one of the victims.

The abuser, Father Brendan Smyth, died in 1997, one month into a 12-year jail sentence after pleading guilty to 74 charges of indecent and sexual abuse of boys and girls for more than 30 years.

Brady apologised at the time of the documentary but said it had been misleading.

(story refiled to add title and first name of Cardinal Sean Brady in second paragraph)

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)