Ireland’s Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Report Volume One


It has been a privilege to serve on the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. The Chairperson and Commissioners acknowledge the trust witnesses placed in them and are acutely aware of the responsibility of reporting on these events that still affect the lives of so many people. The dignity, courage and fortitude of witnesses who endeavoured to recall events that happened many years ago was impressive and the Commission wishes to express its gratitude to all those who participated in its work.

There were two types of inquiry, one drawing on contested evidence (Investigation Committee) and the other on uncontested evidence (Confidential Committee), which reported to the Commission. Between them the Commission received the evidence of over 1,500 witnesses who attended or were resident as children in schools and care facilities in the State, particularly industrial and reformatory schools.

The system of industrial and reformatory schools belongs to a different era. However, many of the lessons to be learned from what happened have contemporary application for the protection of children and vulnerable people in our society. The Commission hopes that this Report will give rise to debate, reflection and action regarding the needs and rights of all children and persons in need of care.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy was Chairperson of the Commission in its formative period until January 2004, when Mr Justice Sean Ryan succeeded as Chairperson. She established the legal framework and the structures for the work to be undertaken. The Chairperson and Commissioners are grateful to Ms Justice Laffoy, former Commissioners and their legal and administrative teams.

The Investigation Committee Report was the responsibility of:
Mr Justice Sean Ryan, Judge of the High Court (Chairperson)
Mr Fred Lowe, Clinical Psychologist (Commissioner)
Ms Marian Shanley, Solicitor (Commissioner).

The Confidential Committee Report was the responsibility of:
Ms Anne McLoughlin, Social Worker (Chairperson)
Ms Mary Fennessy, Social Worker (Commissioner)
Ms Norah Gibbons, Social Worker (Commissioner), resigned as Chairperson of the Confidential Committee in 2005 and continued to assist the Commission on a part-time basis.

The Solicitors to the Commission were Ms Feena Robinson and Ms Elisa McHugh, whose professional expertise was central to the running of the Commission.

The Secretary to the Commission was Ms Brenda McVeigh who, with her team of administrative, secretarial and support staff, provided a service which was essential to the efficient working of the Commission.

Counsel to the Investigation Committee provided invaluable assistance and included at different stages Mr Frank Clarke SC, Mr Brian McGovern SC, Mr Noel MacMahon SC, Ms Karen Fergus SC, and a team of document counsel.

The work of other staff members including para-legals, witness support officers and IT experts is also acknowledged with gratitude. A full list of the professional and administrative advisers and staff of the Commission appears at the end of the Report in Volume V.

Signed on behalf of the Commission:

Mr Justice Sean Ryan, Chairperson

May 2009

Chapter 1
Establishment of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA)

1.01On the 11th May 1999, the Government apologised to victims of child abuse and the Taoiseach, Mr. Ahern, announced the establishment of a commission of inquiry and other measures. In the course of a special statement, he said:

On behalf of the State and of all citizens of the State, the Government wishes to make a sincere and long overdue apology to the victims of childhood abuse for our collective failure to intervene, to detect their pain, to come to their rescue.

1.02Mr Ahern went on to outline a number of measures, including the setting up of a Commission to Inquire into Childhood Abuse, chaired by Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, Judge of the High Court. Other measures that were announced included the establishment of a national counselling service for victims of childhood abuse, and the amendment of the Statute of Limitations, to enable victims of childhood sexual abuse to make claims for compensation in certain circumstances.

1.03The Commission was initially established on a non-statutory, administrative footing, with broad terms of reference given to it by the Government, which had as its primary focus the provision of a sympathetic and experienced forum in which victims could recount the abuse they had suffered. The Commission was required to identify and report on the causes, nature and extent of physical and sexual abuse, with a view to making recommendations for the present and future.

1.04The Commission made two reports to the Government, in September1 and October2 1999, outlining how these terms of reference could be implemented, and its recommendations were embodied in the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Bill, 2000 which was published in February of that year. The Commission was established on 23rd May 2000 pursuant to the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Act, 2000 as an independent statutory body. This Act was subsequently amended by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Amendment) Act, 2005 (the Act of 2005).3 The Act of 2000 is referred to as the ‘Principal Act’.

1.05The principal functions conferred on the Commission, as laid down in section 4(1) of the Principal Act of 2000 and as amended by section 4 of the 2005 Act, were:

(1)(a)to provide, for persons who have suffered abuse in childhood in institutions during the relevant period, an opportunity to recount the abuse, and make submissions, to a Committee,

(b)through a Committee—

(i)to inquire into the abuse of children in institutions during the relevant period,

(ia)to inquire into the manner in which children were placed in, and the circumstances in which they continued to be resident in, institutions during the relevant period,

(ii)to determine the causes, nature, circumstances and extent of such abuse, and

(iii)without prejudice to the generality of any of the foregoing, to determine the extent to which—

(I)the institutions themselves in which such abuse occurred,

(II)the systems of management, administration, operation, supervision, inspection and regulation of such institutions, and

(III)the manner in which those functions were performed by the persons or bodies in whom they were vested,

contributed to the occurrence or incidence of such abuse,


(c)to prepare and publish reports pursuant to section 5.

(2)Subject to the provisions of this Act, the inquiry under subsection (1) shall be conducted in such manner and by such means as the Commission considers appropriate.

(3)The Commission shall have all such powers as are necessary or expedient for the performance of its functions.

(4)(a)The Government may, if they so think fit, after consultation with the Commission, by order confer on the Commission and the Committees such additional functions or powers connected with their functions and powers for the time being as they consider appropriate.

(b)The Government may, if they so think fit, after consultation with the Commission, amend or revoke an order under this subsection.

(c)Where an order is proposed to be made under this subsection, a draft of the order shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and the order shall not be made unless a resolution approving of the draft has been passed by each such House.

(5)The Commission may invite and receive oral or written submissions.

(6)In performing its functions the Commission shall bear in mind the need of persons who have suffered abuse in childhood to recount to others such abuse, their difficulties in so doing and the potential beneficial effect on them of so doing and, accordingly, the Commission and the Confidential Committee shall endeavour to ensure that meeting of the Confidential Committee at which evidence is given are conducted

  1. so as to afford to persons who have suffered such abuse in institutions during the relevant period an opportunity to recount in full the abuse suffered by them in an atmosphere that is sympathetic to, and understanding of, them, and
  2. as informally as is possible in the circumstances.

1.06The term ‘abuse’ was defined by the legislation:4

  1. the wilful, reckless or negligent infliction of physical injury on, or failure to prevent such injury to, the child,
  2. the use of the child by a person for sexual arousal or sexual gratification of that person or another person,
  3. failure to care for the child which results, or could reasonably be expected to result, in serious impairment of the physical or mental health or development of the child or serious adverse effects on his or her behaviour or welfare, or
  4. any other act or omission towards the child which results, or could reasonably be expected to result, in serious impairment of the physical or mental health or development of the child or serious adverse effects on his or her behaviour or welfare.

The legislation governing the Commission is set out in the Appendices at Vol V.

The structure of the Commission

1.07The Commission comprised two separate and distinct Committees which were required to report separately to the Commission as a whole: the Confidential Committee, and the Investigation Committee. Members of the Commission were assigned to one or other Committee. They could not be members of both.

1.08The principal functions of the Confidential Committee,5 as laid down in section 15(1) in the Principal Act as amended by section 10 of the 2005 Act, were:

  1. to provide, for persons who have suffered abuse in childhood in institutions during the relevant period and who do not wish to have that abuse inquired into by the Investigation Committee, an opportunity to recount the abuse, and make submissions, in confidence to the Committee,
  2. to receive evidence of such abuse,
  3. to make proposals of a general nature with a view to their being considered by the Commission in deciding what recommendations to make and
  4. to prepare and furnish reports.6

1.09The specific mandate of the Confidential Committee was to hear the evidence of those survivors of childhood institutional abuse who wished to report their experiences in a confidential setting. The legislation provided for the hearings of the Confidential Committee to be conducted in an atmosphere that was as informal and as sympathetic to, and understanding of, the witnesses as was possible in the circumstances.7

1.10The Confidential Committee heard from 1,090 witnesses who applied to give oral evidence of abuse they experienced in Irish institutions. Volume III contains the part of the Report that is based on evidence received by the Confidential Committee.

1.11The principal functions of the Investigation Committee,8 as laid down in section 12 of the Principal Act, which was amended by section 7 of the Act of 2005, were:

    1. to provide, as far as is reasonably practicable, for persons who have suffered abuse in childhood in institutions during the relevant period, an opportunity to recount the abuse and other relevant experiences undergone by them in institutions,
    2. to inquire into the manner in which children were placed in, and the circumstances in which they continued to be resident in, institutions during the relevant period,
    3. to inquire into the abuse of children in institutions during the relevant period,
    4. to determine the causes, nature, circumstances and extent of such abuse, and
    5. without prejudice to the generality of any of the foregoing, to determine the extent to which—
      1. the institutions themselves in which such abuse occurred,
      2. the systems of management, administration, operation, supervision and regulation of such institutions, and
      3. the manner in which any of the things referred to in subparagraph (ii) was done,9 contributed to the occurrence or incidents of such abuse,


    • to prepare and furnish reports pursuant to section 13.

1.12The powers of the Investigation Committee10 were, inter alia:

  • to direct the attendance of witnesses,11
  • to direct the production of documents,12 and
  • to give such other directions that appear to be reasonable, just and necessary.13

1.13The Investigation Committee also had the power:

  • to require the discovery of documents,14
  • to furnish interrogatories (or questions) which must be replied to,15 and
  • to require parties to admit facts, statements and documents.16

1.14The evidence obtained was presumed to be prima facie evidence of the matters to which it related.17 Finally, the Investigation Committee also had the power to take evidence of a person’s conviction for abuse of a child as evidence before the Committee of that abuse.18

1.15The Principal Act also provided penalties, similar to those applying to contempt of court provisions, for failure to comply with directions of the Committee.19

1.16Section 13 of the Principal Act, as amended by section 8 of the 2005 Act, dealt with the report of the Investigation Committee, and provided that the report:

  1. may contain findings that abuse of children, or abuse of children during a particular period, occurred in a particular institution and may identify—
    1. the institution where the abuse took place, and
    2. the person or, as the case may be, each person who committed the abuse but only if he or she has been convicted of an offence in respect of abuse,
  2. may contain findings in relation to the management, administration, operation, supervision and regulation, direct or indirect, of an institution referred to in paragraph (a), and
  3. shall not contain findings in relation to particular instances of alleged abuse of children.

1.17The importance of the 2005 Act was that it amended Section 1320 of the Principal Act so that the Investigation Committee could no longer identify a person it believed had committed abuse unless that person had been convicted by a court.

1.18The term ‘institution’ was defined by the legislation to include:

a school, an industrial school, a reformatory school, an orphanage, a hospital, a children’s home and any other place where children are cared for other than as members of their families.21

1.19The ‘relevant period’ of the inquiry was from 1940 to 1999, but the Commission had power to extend it in either direction. The Commission exercised this power for the Investigation Committee by extending the beginning of the period back to 1936, by a decision of 26th November 2002. The relevant period for the Confidential Committee was determined to be between 1914 and 2000, being the earliest date of admission and the latest date of discharge of those applicants who applied to give evidence of abuse to that Committee.

1.20The Third Interim Report set out the history of the Commission from its inception as a statutory body in 2000 to the suspension of the operations of the Investigation Committee and the resignation of Ms Justice Laffoy which was announced in September 2003. Ms Justice Laffoy stood down on 12th January 2004 (see Appendix II).

Appointment of new chairperson to the Commission

1.21On 26th September 2003, the Minister for Education and Science announced the appointment of Mr Sean Ryan S.C. as chairperson designate of the Commission to succeed Ms Justice Laffoy. The Government requested Mr Ryan to undertake his own independent review of the Commission and to make all necessary recommendations having regard to:

  • the interests of victims of abuse
  • the requirement to complete the Commission’s work within a reasonable timeframe, which would be consistent with the needs of a proper investigation so as to avoid exorbitant costs.

1.22Mr Justice Ryan furnished his review of the workings and procedures of the Commission in November 2003.

1.23In summary, he concluded that there were major problems facing the Investigation Committee. If it were to continue unchanged, there would be no prospect of its work being completed within a reasonable time and at an acceptable cost. He suggested a number of changes that were needed to overcome the problems:

  1. Amendments to the 2000 Act so as to focus the Investigation Committee on its core function, which was to inquire into abuse of children in institutions.
  2. Changes to procedures which would enable allegations to be heard in logical units for hearings (Modules).
  3. Publication of interim reports as the work proceeded.
  4. Establishment of ‘trust’ between the parties as to the fairness of the hearings.

1.24The work of the Investigation Committee was suspended from September 2003 until March 2004. Judgment was awaited in a High Court action brought by the Christian Brothers. This case sought judicial determination, inter alia, of the constitutionality of the Investigation Committee’s approach to making findings of abuse against elderly or deceased Brothers or those who could not properly answer the allegations.

1.25The work of the Confidential Committee continued throughout this time.

The work of the Investigation Committee post-2003

1.26The Investigation Committee began in March 2004 to engage in widespread consultations, to see if an agreed way forward could be found. The aim was to accommodate the 1,712 complainants who had come forward by that time, together with respondent witnesses, within a reasonable timeframe.

1.27The Investigation Committee’s legal team met with representatives of over 20 special interest groups representing complainants, and no consensus emerged.

1.28The legal team explained to the groups the practical and logistical problems the Investigation Committee would face if every single person who complained to it were to be heard. The representatives were opposed to any form of selection of witnesses, even though they had no solution to the problems that the requirement to hear every witness imposed.

1.29The Investigation Committee also met the solicitors representing complainants. A further complicating factor was that not all firms of solicitors were willing to communicate with the legal team as a collective group. This may give some idea of the difficulties that the Investigation Committee faced in trying to get the Inquiry restarted.

1.30The Committee also had meetings with different groups representing respondents against whom allegations of abuse had been made, to apprise them of the situation, to seek agreement, and to invite their suggestions.

1.31There was no agreement or any realistic proposal acceptable to all of the stakeholders as to how to proceed. However, these meetings revealed a general acknowledgement of the difficulties that had to be overcome. There was consensus as to the problems, even if the solutions were elusive. The various stakeholders expressed goodwill towards the Committee and its efforts to make progress. They were, in addition, reconciled to the fact that they were not going to achieve all that they wanted, and that the Investigation Committee would be obliged to decide on a way forward if no agreement emerged. The majority of the representatives recognised that the Committee had gone to considerable lengths to explore possible solutions and agreement on how to proceed with the Inquiry.

The Investigation Committee Policy Paper – May 2004

1.32At a public meeting held in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, on 7th May 2004, the Investigation Committee announced its intention to make significant changes to deal with the obstacles to its work. The chairperson set out proposals for hearing selected witnesses in the investigation of institutions that had the largest number of complaints made against them; however, the larger institutions had far more complainants wishing to give evidence.

1.33At that point in May 2004, the length and form that the hearings would take was difficult to assess. It was not known what, if any, objections were going to be raised. These uncertainties gave rise to some concern in the Investigation Committee, particularly in relation to larger institutions, and whether all hearings could be completed within a reasonable time. This would leave other potential witnesses out of the investigative process.

1.34For most of the smaller institutions (i.e. those against whom a small number of complaints had been made), the Investigation Committee believed it could hear all those who had notified the Committee of their intention to give evidence and who had then followed up with statements.

1.35At the meeting on 7th May 2004, the Committee published and circulated a position paper on the question of ‘naming and shaming’ abusers, which stated that the Inquiry was not going to be able to complete its work if it proceeded on the basis of naming abusers. The document suggested that, because of difficulties of proof, there would probably be many abusers in respect of whom the evidence fell short. There were risks that people not guilty of abuse could be named. A further point was the disparity that would exist between people who were named – necessarily, a limited number – and the larger cohort of people who had indeed committed abuse (as a matter of probability) but who were not named. These and other points were made in proposing the policy that the Investigation Committee would not name abusers in the report, and would proceed with the investigation on that basis.

1.36Time was allowed for submissions to be made, and all parties were asked to assist the Investigation Committee with suggestions that would allow the process to move forward. No substantial submissions were received in respect of the policies outlined above.

1.37At a further meeting in June 2004, the Committee announced its decision to proceed on the basis of selection of witnesses for the hearings. This applied only to the larger institutions, which were Artane, Letterfrack, Ferryhouse, Upton and Daingean. The policy of not naming abusers was applied generally.

1.38The Commission sought amendments to the legislation to incorporate these changes, and these were set down in the Act of 2005.

1.39The Investigation Committee at this time wrote to all complainants/solicitors to ascertain the number of complainants who wished to proceed with their application to be heard. As a result of this, 143 complainants withdrew their request to give evidence to the Investigation Committee, while 174 other complainants transferred to the Confidential Committee.

1.40The Investigation Committee then proceeded with the work of the Inquiry.

The Emergence hearings

1.41The Emergence hearings began in June 2004. They were held in public at the Distillery Building, Church Street, Dublin 7. The function of these hearings was:

  • to re-commence the work of the Investigation Committee,
  • to place the work of the Investigation Committee in historical context,
  • to understand the reasoning behind the Government’s public apology,
  • to understand the Government’s decision to institute a Scheme of Redress,
  • to understand the reason why the Religious Congregations came to contribute to the Redress Scheme, and why some of them had also issued public apologies,
  • to understand the reasons why support/survivor groups were set up, and how they were organised.

1.42The Commission wanted to assure the public and the various stakeholders that the work of the Commission was resuming in full. The hearings were scheduled for June and July 2004, and took place over a period of about four weeks.

1.43In advance of the Emergence hearings, the Investigation Committee’s legal team wrote to representatives of the State institutions, the Religious Congregations, and to survivor groups, setting out the types of questions that the Investigation Committee wished to explore. In the case of the State and Religious Congregations, the Investigation Committee asked questions on the following issues:

  1. insofar as the body concerned has ever issued a public apology in respect of child abuse, the reasons for issuing such an apology;
  2. the reasons why the body contributed to the Redress Fund;
  3. the timing and manner in which allegations of child abuse emerged as an issue in respect of institutions under the management or regulatory control of the body;
  4. a brief account of the protocols or procedures, which were in place from time to time within the body which were designed to prevent, investigate or deal with allegations of child abuse;
  5. the extent to which the body made enquiries as to how other similar institutions, whether in Ireland or abroad, dealt with such matters and, if so, the result of such enquiries; and
  6. the extent to which any enquiries carried out within the organisation (concerning whether there was child abuse within the institutions managed or regulated by it) led to it forming a view that such abuse did occur, together with the extent to which any such view may have contributed to (a) and (b) above.

1.44In the case of the survivor groups, the Investigation Committee asked questions on the following issues:

  1. the timing and manner in which allegations of and knowledge of child abuse emerged as an issue in Ireland;
  2. how the group was formed;
  3. by whom the group was formed;
  4. when the group was formed;
  5. who were the groups members (in general terms without any individuals being named);
  6. how did the groups members come to join the group;
  7. what the group had done since its formation; and
  8. how the group was funded.

1.45There was a very positive response to these questionnaires, and the Committee received comprehensive statements from the various State agencies, the Religious Congregations, and the survivor groups. Statements were received from the Department of An Taoiseach, the Department of Finance, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Department of Education and Science, and the Department of Health and Children. Statements were received from all of the 18 Religious Congregations that contributed to the Redress Fund, and statements were received from 10 survivor groups.

1.46In order to place the emergence of child abuse as an issue in Irish society in its historical context, the Investigation Committee invited Dr Eoin OSullivan, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at the Department of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College, Dublin, to give evidence, and this is included in the historical overview.

State evidence

1.47In order to explore the State’s response to the emergence of child abuse as an issue, the Committee called the Taoiseach, Government Ministers and senior department officials to give evidence.

1.48In his evidence at the Emergence hearings, Mr Tom Boland, who was then Head of Legal Affairs at the Department of Education and Science, provided a chronological account of the manner in which the issue of child abuse was dealt with in his Department from 1998 to 2002. He stated that institutional abuse first came to the attention of the Department of Education and Science as an issue that they would have to deal with, as a result of the increase in the number of legal cases being taken against the Department. There was also an increase in the number of Freedom of Information requests coming into the Department from former residents seeking access to their records. More generally, the Department was also aware of the fact that institutional abuse had become a major public issue, following the broadcast of television programmes such as ‘Dear Daughter’22 and ‘States of Fear’.23

1.49Mr Boland said that the then Minister for Education and Science, Mr Micheál Martin, brought the issue of institutional child abuse to Cabinet for the first time on 31st March 1998, and the issue of litigation by former residents of reformatories and industrial schools. There was a general discussion at that meeting as to how the State might best respond to the emerging question of institutional child abuse. There was some discussion of the possibility of dealing with the issue through a Commission process, but at that stage the focus was on establishing a scheme that would provide counselling for the victims of abuse. The matter was not significantly progressed during 1998, but it was raised informally at a number of Cabinet meetings throughout that year.

1.50In December 1998, the Government decided to establish a Cabinet Sub-Committee to deal with the issue of child abuse in institutions. The Committee was chaired by the Minister for Education and Science and was composed of the Tánaiste, the Ministers for the Marine and Natural Resources, Health and Children, Social, Community and Family Affairs, Justice Equality and Law Reform, the Attorney General, and the Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

1.51Mr Boland said that the Cabinet Sub-Committee’s remit ‘was to bring forward proposals to Government on how to deal with the issue of sexual abuse’. However, according to Mr Micheál Martin, the then Minister for Education and Science, its remit was wider and ‘not just sexual abuse, but the, I suppose, the broad abuse of children’.

1.52The Cabinet Sub-Committee immediately established a Working Group composed of the Secretaries General and related officials from all of the Departments involved. It furnished its report to the Cabinet Sub-Committee on 28th April 1999. The report was entitled ‘Measures to Assist Victims of Childhood Abuse’. On 10th May 1999, the Government agreed the following proposals:

  • Establish a Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.
  • Legislate within the then Dail session to extend the concept of disability under the Statute of Limitations to victims of child sexual abuse who, because of that abuse, were unable to bring claims within the normal limitation period.
  • Immediately refer the issue of limitation periods as they applied to non-sexual childhood abuse to the Law Reform Commission.
  • Establish, over as short a timescale as practical, a dedicated professional counselling service.
  • Provide for an effective programme of publicity for these services.
  • Prepare and publish as soon as possible a White Paper on mandatory reporting of sexual abuse of children.
  • Prepare the legislation for the establishment of a sex offenders’ register as a matter of high priority.
  • Apologise to victims of childhood abuse.
  • The Cabinet Sub-Committee to meet regularly, to review the implementation of the different elements of this decision.
  • Accept the principle of the Labour Party Private Member’s Bill to amend the Statute of Limitations, but in the context that the Government was progressing its own comprehensive programme of measures, including legislation, in relation to child sexual abuse.

1.53Mr Boland explained the policy basis for the various child abuse measures adopted by the Working Group:

A point had come where there was a general acceptance in political and administrative circles that that process was not acceptable anymore, and that society and Government needed to engage with this problem in a much more proactive way. In the interests of the survivors of abuse themselves very definitely, but also in the interest of Irish society, that the boil of past abuse, if you like, would be lanced and we would find some answers as to what happened and explanation as to what happened.

1.54He said that this view was informed by ‘a folk memory, if I could use that word, that industrial and reformatory schools were very harsh places’, and also by the report of the Kennedy Committee, the media and, in particular, the ‘Dear Daughter’ RTE television programme. Mr Boland’s view was further informed by meetings with former residents and, to a limited degree, the work done by Dr Gerry Cronin, a social historian appointed by Minister Martin to review the Department’s files.

1.55On 11th May 1999, the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, announced the Government measures relating to childhood abuse, as set out above. At the same time, he stated that ‘the starting point for this is simple, but fundamental. We must start by apologising’.

1.56In his evidence to the Investigation Committee, the Taoiseach described the thinking behind the apology:

Well, it was the State has let you down, the State should have done better. There were reasons why it didn’t, but they weren’t in our view justifiable. While times were different and it is never a good thing to try to put policy today to what policy would have been on another day, we still felt in this case that we had left a section of our community, who were vulnerable, exposed in a way that would affect their lives. While all of the other measures in the report were measures of guidance, help, assistance and therapeutic and all of the rest, that sympathy wasnt just the only thing we could do, we actually had to express it in a way that the State does not normally do. These were our people, these were issues that were perpetrated against them and while not giving a judgment on any of the institutions or what people in the institutions were trying or trying not to do, obviously there were circumstances, circumstances of staff and resources and God knows what, and mentality of people. The reality is we were dealing with a group of victims who were decent honourable people, who had suffered and deserved the States best apology the State could give. The best way of doing that, whether it is always accepted or not in life, is to do what you do in your own life, you would say sorry, and that is what we set out to do.

1.57Mr Micheál Martin, the Minister for Education and Science at the time, said:

Basically, I felt at the time that if we stopped short of issuing an apology from the perspective of the survivors it would have been a devastating blow. The package for a lot of them would have been meaningless if there wasn’t that State recognition that what was done to us was wrong and do you please believe us.

1.58The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, told the Investigation Committee that the apology was his and Minister Martin’s idea:

Yes, in fairness to the Working Group, I dont think they ever discussed the issue of the apology. The apology, Chairman, I remember how the apology [came] around very clearly, because while all of the issues that we were talking about; professional help and caring and trying to assist these people back who had been badly dealt with by the State in our view, the hurt was not going to be removed unless you said sorry. It was my view and Minister Martins view, we made the decision.

1.59This was borne out by the evidence of Mr Tim Dalton, former Secretary General to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Mr Dalton said that the apology did not emanate from the Working Group, it was a political decision:

It emanated at Cabinet level subsequently … While the apology was very much in line with what the working group was saying the apology, as a matter of fact, arose later. Yes.

1.60He continued:

I mean the Committees working groups report emphasized the need for what was described as a proactive approach, a sympathetic approach, and an apology would have been very much in line with that. Although as a matter of fact the apology came up subsequently.

1.61The Taoiseach and Minister Martin described meetings they had with former residents of reformatory and industrial schools at this time. The Taoiseach told the Investigation Committee:

I had met a number of the individuals, individuals who lived in my own constituency and elsewhere as you travel around who made me aware of what they hoped and the concerns they had and, obviously, wanted to see us taking action, and I think were happy to see that we had set up a Cabinet Committee and that we had set up a Working Group that was representative of our most senior public servants … They wanted to see a Government do something about it, they wanted a forum where they could express themselves if they wished to do, some of them did, some of them didnt, and where they would be able to put forward what had happened in their lives, what had happened in institutions that they were sent to, as they saw it, totally as a matter of State action. They wanted to see us do something about correcting the hurt that they suffered.

1.62He continued:

I met a number of these groups and met a number of individuals. I think I can say without exception, they struck me as being entirely genuine, entirely trustworthy and asking me for help, asking for assistance and wanting us to do it because many of them, it had been a long time since they left these institutions and their lives had been affected. Even those of them who had moved on and where their life was together, they believed that this was a hurt that had not been corrected and they were urging us to deal with it comprehensively.

1.63Minister Martin said that he first became aware of the issue of institutional abuse in his ministerial capacity in early 1998. Prior to his appointment, he had watched the two television programmes ‘Dear Daughter’ and ‘States of Fear’, and these programmes, particularly ‘States of Fear’, had a profound impact on him. He told the Committee that, having viewed this programme, ‘… I was left with the view they can’t all be wrong, they can’t all be false stories’.

1.64Mr Boland explained the factors that led to the establishment of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse in 1999:

First of all, I think of primary concern for the sub committee would always have been the victims themselves. The objective of a Commission would be that it would provide a place where they could tell the account of their lives to a sympathetic panel. That element of having a sympathetic panel was always very important in the whole process of the Commission. The hope was that in this way victims of abuse could be reassured that the abuse they suffered was wrong and was utterly condemned by Irish society. There was a very strong demand for that kind of listening forum from the victims themselves.

In addition then it was felt that a Commission could begin a process for victims of abuse whereby they would feel more able to approach the institutions that were there for professional help so that they could work through their pain and trauma.

For Irish society the idea was – and this is rather like a truth Commission – that it would establish for Irish society precisely what happened and establish as complete a picture as possible of the causes, nature and extent of childhood abuse including why it happened and also who was responsible. It was very much an important factor that the Commission would establish at least at an institutional level what institutions were responsible for what happened. It was also felt that this kind of process would help Irish society to come to terms with a very negative, very black period in our history. And it would also give to those who were involved in running the institutions, primarily the religious congregations, an opportunity to put their side of the case and show that in some cases, and maybe even in many cases – that is a judgment for the Commission – that in fact they did good service for the State too.

Perhaps this might have been a bit naive, but nevertheless it was an opportunity for perpetrators of abuse, particularly those who felt appalled by what they had done, to come forward and to give them an opportunity to relieve themselves of their burden. Very, very importantly then a Commission would make recommendations for the future as to how to prevent this happening again and what to do for victims of abuse going on into the future.

1.65Later in his evidence, Mr Boland went on to discuss how the issue of compensation came into consideration. He said that ‘a compensation scheme was very much in policy minds from a very early time’, but the Government had taken the view that they would deal with it once the Commission had concluded its work. On 20th July 2000, the chairperson of the Commission informed the Department of Education and Science that a number of solicitors representing clients who alleged having suffered abuse as children had adopted a position, whereby they would advise their clients not to cooperate with the Commission until the issue of compensation was dealt with. The chairperson expressed the view that this would have serious implications for the Commission’s ability to carry out its task, and asked the Government to make a decision in principle in relation to the setting-up of a compensation scheme as quickly as possible. On 27th September 2000, the chairperson criticised the lack of action in relation to the issue of compensation at a public sitting of the Commission. On 3rd October 2000, the Government decided to agree in principle:

  • to set up a compensation scheme,
  • that the definition of abuse for the purposes of the scheme would be the same as in the Commission legislation,
  • that compensation would be paid on an ex-gratia basis, without establishing liability on the part of State bodies, but subject to the claimant establishing to the satisfaction of the body that he or she had suffered abuse and resulting injury, and
  • that the amount of compensation would be broadly similar to that which would be awarded to a claimant had he or she pursued successfully a claim for damages in the courts.

1.66Mr Boland outlined the policy basis for the compensation scheme:

I suppose there were a number of reasons … Allowing cases to proceed to litigation from a survivors point of view and from a social point of view was simply the wrong thing to do in the view of Government. It would negate any real sense of meaning from the apology on behalf of the Irish Nation if then people who wanted to get compensation for the abuse they had suffered had to go through an extraordinarily lengthy process in the High Court. There was also of course the fact that many of those cases would fail not because they didnt suffer injury and not because they had not been injured, but because of what might be regarded as technical rules of evidence. And that was not acceptable to Government either. There was a pure operational issue for the courts. 800 cases at that stage, maybe a couple of thousand. Now we think maybe a few thousand. The effect it would have had on the administration of justice or from the court system would be enormous.

1.67Mr Boland pointed out that, in developing a policy on the compensation scheme, the Government carried out a comprehensive review of the practice in other jurisdictions.

1.68Following a consultation process, the Minister for Education and Science returned to Government with a set of proposals for legislation, which subsequently became the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002 (the Act of 2002).

1.69Mr Boland discussed the indemnity agreement24 with Religious Congregations and issues of apportionment of liability. He said that the Governments action in setting up the scheme was not motivated to any significant extent by considerations of legal liability or culpability:

the Government determined upon a redress scheme with an approach that said this was to be done regardless of the involvement of anybody else. And it was to be done by the State paying for full compensation. This was seen as an issue for Irish society. It was an issue that had to be dealt with fully and firmly for once and for all. Therefore, the most effective way in which Government could achieve that was that to take responsibility for it, and that is what it did. So the scheme was to be fully funded by the State. That was the starting position. And full awards were to be paid.

1.70He explained to the Committee how the Congregations became involved in making a contribution to the scheme:

Clearly there would always be a difficulty in the minds of many people, not least those who had suffered abuse, if the Congregations had no involvement at all in the compensation scheme. Therefore it was felt as a policy objective desirable that they would be involved. And in fairness to them they said quite early on that they would like to make a meaningful contribution to the scheme. That was finally decided with them and Government made a decision on that basis. But the scheme was going ahead in any event.

1.71The indemnity agreement between the State and CORI provided for the 18 Religious Congregations to make a contribution of €128 million to the Residential Institutions Redress Fund. In return, the Government agreed to grant an indemnity to the Religious Congregations that were parties to the agreement. However, the indemnity agreement of 5th June 2002 was not based on any apportionment of responsibility for abuse.

1.72Dr Michael Woods was appointed Minister for Education and Science on 27th January 2000, at which stage the Taoiseach had issued his apology and the decision had been taken to establish the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. During his time as Minister for Education and Science, Dr Woods was responsible for bringing proposals to Government regarding the Redress Scheme, subsequently the Act of 2002 and the indemnity agreement with the Religious Congregations.

1.73Dr Woods gave evidence at the Emergence hearings, where he noted that Mr Boland had dealt comprehensively with the Redress Scheme in his evidence but commented briefly on the matter himself. He told the Investigation Committee that the more he became involved in the process following his appointment as Minister for Education and Science, the more he became ‘acutely aware of the issues and the problems which were faced by the victims’. Dr Woods said ‘that the early establishment of the scheme was seen as (a) greatly reducing the stress of survivors of abuse and, (b) it was to facilitate the progress of the Commission’. He said that the involvement of the Congregations was seen by the State as a desirable policy objective but stressed:

as far as the State was concerned it was very firm in its decision that the State was going ahead in any event with the Redress Scheme. That it was the right way to go.

1.74Dr Woods said that part of the Governments desire to get the Congregations to contribute was to bring about a situation where there was closure to the whole issue of past institutional abuse.

Religious Congregations’ evidence

1.75The two major topics for the Religious Congregations at the Emergence hearings were the contributions they made to the State Redress fund of compensation to victims and the apologies that many of them issued. Contributions to the State fund posed much less of an issue or a problem for them than the question of apology. They were largely in agreement on compensation. Negotiations were carried out on their behalf by the Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI), which is an umbrella organisation for the various Religious Congregations in Ireland. The agreement reached was favourable to the Religious Congregations, but the Investigation Committee was not concerned with the wisdom or reasonableness of the agreement reached.

1.76It might have been thought that Congregations who contributed to the fund were in effect conceding that there had been some abuse in their institutions. The agreement did not require them to do so, but the mere fact of payment into the fund, in return for an indemnity in respect of any actions that might be taken, could have been regarded as an expression of some kind of admission or acknowledgement, but it was said not to be the case.

1.77The position with regard to apologies was more complicated. Some Congregations issued apologies and some did not. Those that issued apologies used a variety of different expressions. Through their spokespersons, they testified to the good intentions that lay behind the apologies. Some of the apologies were more effective than others in meeting the needs of survivor groups.

1.78Congregations were fearful that what they said in order to assuage the feelings of victims of abuse might be used to damage them, as they saw it. Their words might be taken as concessions or admissions as to events that were alleged to have happened. The aims of acknowledging past wrongs and assuaging feelings of victims are at odds with the desire to avoid admissions and concessions about abuse. Most of the apologies reflected tension between these objectives, and were largely unsatisfactory as a result.

1.79The attitude of many of the Congregations was conditional. If their members committed abuse, they expressed regret for it. They did not accept Congregational responsibility for any abuse that happened. As to whether abuse had actually happened, they said they were leaving that to the Commission to establish, because that was the function of the Commission, and because they had contradictory information on the claims of complainants and in the responses of their own members.

1.80On 31st January 2002, CORI issued a general apology on behalf of its members:

We accept that some children in residential institutions managed by our members suffered deprivation, physical and sexual abuse. We regret that, we apologise for it. We can never take away the pain experienced at the time by these children nor the shadow left over their adult lives. Today the congregations with the State are giving a concrete expression of their genuine desire to foster healing and reconciliation in the lives of former residents.

1.81The Investigation Committee at the Emergence hearings heard evidence from representatives of the following Religious Congregations that had contributed to the Redress Fund:

  1. The Rosminian Institute of Charity
  2. The Dominican Order
  3. The Sisters of Mercy
  4. Our Lady of Charity of the Good Sheperd
  5. The Presentation Brothers
  6. The Religious Sisters of Charity
  7. The Christian Brothers
  8. The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul
  9. The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge
  10. The Brothers of Charity
  11. The Daughters of the Heart of Mary
  12. The De La Salle Brothers
  13. The Sisters of St Clare
  14. The Presentation Sisters
  15. The Sisters of St Louis
  16. The Hospitaller Order of St John of God
  17. The Sisters of Nazareth
  18. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

1.82These representatives were examined as to the reasons underpinning the decision taken by the Congregations to issue an apology, if they did so, and the reasons they contributed to the Redress Fund, if they did so. The Investigation Committee also heard evidence during the Emergence hearings from representatives of Congregations involved in the management, care and control of institutions that were not the subject of its investigations into individual institutions.

The Rosminian Institute of Charity

1.83The Rosminian Order operated two industrial schools, one at Upton in County Cork and the other at Ferryhouse in County Tipperary, as well as a School for the Blind at Drumcondra in Dublin. They had two post-primary schools, one in Omeath and one in Dublin. They also developed a retirement home for blind men in Drumcondra, and a centre in Cork for adults with learning disabilities.

1.84In 1999, the Rosminians issued a public statement:

The members of the Rosminian Institute are saddened and shamed that young people in our care were abused by members of our Order. We deeply regret not only the abuse but also the shadow cast on the lives of those abused. We abhor all mistreatment of children and we wish to express our profound sorrow.

1.85Fr Joseph O’Reilly, giving evidence on 30th June 2004, said that the Order made that statement because they felt it was the right thing to do:

Fundamentally we felt it was simply the right thing to do and it was something over which we had no option to do.

1.86The Order was aware that children had been abused in at least one of their institutions in 1979:

That was one of the reasons why we obviously felt that we would have to apologise.

1.87Fr O’Reilly told the Committee that the Order contributed to the Redress Fund because:

We believed it was the right thing to do, it was the just thing to do, it was the natural thing when you recognise that you have been part of something that has caused hurt and pain to people in the past, thats fairly inescapable. I think there was a recognition on our part that to go another route that seemed to be the only other route available at the time in terms of litigation and going to the High Court, we felt that that would be disastrous for all concerned.

1.88He continued:

I mentioned that we felt that the option of going through the High Court and denying — I am not sure of the technical word — denying complaints against us and being involved in that process, we felt that would not be the right way to go and it would be disastrous for all concerned. We felt it would be a hurtful, harmful way for all concerned … We were advised it would have meant years, maybe a lot more years than anybody knew at the time … Years of having to appear in court and putting people through questioning and cross-examination, and trying to provide proof on this, that and the other … From our end we dont have the personnel to do that. We didnt have the inclination to do that. We felt also that we didnt have the finances to do that in a way. We also felt that it would not be at all consistent with what we had said by way of apology. It would not be consistent with the type of relationship that we had with many past pupils. Not with all admittedly. We did not want people to have to suffer on through that type of system … It seemed that it would have been cruel to consider those type of things. We wanted to be involved in the process and we perceived the Redress Board as process that would offer a degree of healing, you know. Because it offered the opportunity for things to be dealt with in a short enough period of time in comparison to other options, and in a process that wasnt adversarial. So we felt it offered much more of an opportunity for healing and, perhaps not reconciliation, but certainly we would have been guided by the maxim of do no more harm. Do no more harm.

1.89The Rosminian Institute approached this issue, conscious of the obligations and of the difficulties, but also believing in the benefits that would accrue to victims, its own members and to the Order. In adopting this approach and pursuing it throughout the Inquiry, the Rosminian Institute was unique, and its senior management and its members deserve acknowledgment and appreciation in that respect.

The Dominican Order

1.90The Dominican Fathers have a long tradition in education in Ireland. They operate a number of schools throughout the country. They had one institution, an orphanage at Dominic Street, Dublin known as St Xavier’s Boys Home. It closed in 1993, and the Order received their first complaint in relation to this institution in 1995. Two further complaints emerged later that year and, in 2001, legal proceedings were instituted by six former residents.

1.91The Dominicans did not make a formal apology:

No, we didnt make a formal apology … We didnt feel that a kind of a general apology in terms of our small group of people would be of any great benefit, but if I were to meet them I would be more than happy to do so.

1.92Despite their decision not to make a general apology, the Order contributed to the Redress Fund.

The Sisters of Mercy

1.93The Sisters of Mercy played a significant role in the industrial school system, as they had been responsible for the management of 26 industrial schools. This is discussed fully in the General Chapter on the Sisters of Mercy. They were also involved in numerous primary and post-primary schools.

1.94The Sisters of Mercy issued an apology in 1996, following the broadcast of the ‘Dear Daughter’ programme in 1995, which characterised a Sisters of Mercy Industrial School, Goldenbridge, as having been abusive. The apology was as follows:

In the light of recent revelations regarding the mistreatment of children in our institutions we the Mercy Sisters wish to take this opportunity to sincerely and unreservedly express our deep regret to those men and women who at any time or place in our care were hurt or harshly treated. The fact that most complaints relate to many years ago is not offered as an excuse. As a congregation we fully acknowledge our failures and ask for forgiveness.

Aware of the painful and lasting effect of such experiences we would like to hear from those who have suffered and we are putting in place an independent and confidential help line. This help line will be staffed by competent and professional counsellors who will listen sympathetically and who will be in the position to offer further help if required. In this way we would hope to redress the pain insofar as that is possible so that those who have suffered might experience some peace, healing and dignity.

Life in Ireland in the 40s and 50s was in general harsh for many people. This was reflected in orphanages, which were under funded, under staffed and under resourced. It was in this climate that many Sisters gave years of generous service to the education and care of children. However, we made mistakes and irrespective of the passage of time as a congregation we now openly acknowledge our failures and ask for forgiveness.

Regretfully we cannot change the past. As we continue our work of caring and education today we will constantly review and monitor our procedures, our personnel and our facilities. Working in close cooperation with other voluntary and statutory agencies we are committed to doing all in our power to ensure that people in our care have a protective and supportive environment.

We were founded to alleviate pain, want and misery. We have tried to do this through our work in health care, education, child care, social and pastoral work. Despite our evident failures which we deeply regret we are committed to continuing that work in partnership with many others in the years ahead.

1.95Sr Breege O’Neill, then Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Mercy, told the Investigation Committee that the Congregation hoped that the apology would ease the pain and trauma of former residents, and help to restore their relationship with the Congregation. She said that the apology was not successful, because it was perceived as being conditional or incomplete. After the apology, the amount of litigation involving the Congregation increased, and the Sisters felt that this inhibited them in their dealings with former residents.

1.96On 5th May 2004, the Congregation issued a second apology, the circumstances of which are discussed in full in the General Chapter on the Sisters of Mercy.

1.97Sr Breege O’Neill also discussed the reasons the Congregation became involved in the Redress Scheme:

Our decision to become involved in the Redress Scheme, it came out of, I think, all of what I have said up to now. Out of the experience for four years of trying to respond in the different arenas to what was coming to us. I am talking about the litigation. I am talking about the Commission. But also knowing that in some way those of themselves were not going to bring closure … Our decision was also informed by a pragmatism in relation to the litigation. The sense that long drawn out litigation proceedings would be what we would be putting our energy into for years and years and years.

Our decision to become involved in the Redress was not informed by an assessment of the potential outcome of each individual case. It was a scheme the Government announced. They invited our contribution or our involvement in it and we welcomed that … But it wasnt an easy decision for the Congregation to take at the time because there were many voices holding different views and we had to in some way come to our own place of resting with it as being the best way forward at this time. That we did. Out of that the decision was taken that we would contribute.

Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd

1.98The Good Shepherd Sisters had four industrial schools in Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Wexford, as well as a reformatory school in Limerick.

1.99The Congregation did not issue a public apology:

We have not issued a public apology, no, but when we have met ex-residents and talking to them and listening to how it was for them and how they experienced it, you know, it has really saddened us a lot and we, like, we would always say, well, look, we are really sorry that these are your memories, that this is how it is, that this was your experience, we are really sorry about that.

1.100The Congregation took the view that the public apology issued by CORI covered all of the 18 Congregations involved in CORI:

we agreed with the publication of the apology, as we see it as conveying our regret and our sorrow that those who were in our care have painful memories and have been upset by their time there.

1.101The Congregation also contributed to the Redress Fund. Sr Claire O’Sullivan, a designated spokesperson for the Congregation, outlined the reasons why as follows:

Well, firstly, we decided in principle in October 2000 that we would make a contribution and, like, we did it for a few reasons. In response to the Governments invitation to Congregations to contribute to the scheme was one of the reasons. Also, it was a combination of our pastoral and practical considerations … Practical considerations were because of the financial restraints. If we went down the road of litigation, it would have cost a huge amount of money and would have gone on for years, as we would see it … Also, we just didnt want to get ourselves into confrontation with our ex residents at all. There was also the practical thing, that it would lead to a better use of the resources that are available to us, resources that could otherwise be used to help us to assist former residents and for other charitable works, rather than expending resources on preparing for litigation, as I would have said there. It would also, instead of members being very much involved in court cases, it would free up people, our Sisters, to spend time assisting former residents and meeting with them and engaging in other charitable works. So that would have been another reason for us. Also, we were glad to be able to get the indemnity, that we could obtain indemnity from the State, as it is better to contribute to the scheme, rather than processing, as I would have said, down the very costly road of litigation.

The Presentation Brothers

1.102The Presentation Brothers operated one industrial school, St Josephs Industrial School, Greenmount in Cork. The Presentation Brothers are currently involved in numerous primary and post-primary schools in Ireland.

1.103The Anglo-Irish Province of the Presentation Brothers has not issued a public apology, but the Congregation issued the following statement on its website, which was referred to at the Emergence hearings:

It was along the lines of, “we apologise for any wrongdoing or any abuse that occurred to any person while in our care”. That was done for two reasons. First of all to give our regret. Secondly, to encourage anybody out there who is hurting to come and make that complaint.

1.104The Congregation also contributed to the Redress Fund:

Well, we were members of CORI and in 2000 when this came up first we were participating in the Faoiseamh25 help line and we contributed to the Faoiseamh help line. We were a member of the 18 Congregations and when the question of the contribution came up we felt that especially because of our 1955 incident26 that we would feel very exposed if all this went to litigation. We felt that it was prudent management to make a contribution to the Redress Board.

The Religious Sisters of Charity

1.105The Sisters of Charity operated five industrial schools, including St Joseph’s and St Patrick’s in Kilkenny and a group home, Madonna House in Dublin. The Religious Sisters of Charity also operate 19 primary schools and eight post-primary schools, and provide special needs education to a small number of schools.

1.106The Sisters of Charity have never issued a public apology in respect of child abuse. However, the Congregation has issued three specific apologies relating to the criminal convictions of three of its staff, one in Madonna House and two in St Josephs, Kilkenny.

1.107The apology in relation to Madonna House was issued in 1994 and read:

The Religious Sisters of Charity are deeply concerned and saddened by what has happened to the children at Madonna House. We offer our heartfelt apology to each and every person who has suffered in a situation where we tried to ensure that they would experience warmth, care and support.

1.108The second apology was issued at the sentencing of a male childcare worker in St Joseph’s in 1997, and Sr Úna O’Neill, Superior General of the Religious Sisters of Charity, stated in respect of it:

While other Orders might have found that the “States of Fear” programme or other publications or broadcasts was their moment of realisation, I think it was the criminal conviction of that childcare worker that was a very significant moment certainly for me and those other Sisters who attended and for the Congregation subsequently. For us it was a brutal initiation into the reality of sexual abuse of the most depraved kind. While I would have read the Garda statements that the children made against this childcare worker, it became very real when the boys were asked to speak in Court and they described a most horrific litany of terror and hurt and humiliation and pain and powerlessness. It was at that moment I think for us as a Congregation it became real. I am not saying we accepted it or understood it, but it became real for us then.

1.109The third apology was issued when another childcare worker from St Josephs, Kilkenny was convicted:

We are appalled that a care worker employed at St. Josephs for 9 months from 76 to 77 abused children in his care and we are offering counselling services etc.

He came to St. Josephs as a qualified care worker, had excellent references from his former employees in the UK, and was interviewed by representatives from St. Josephs and from the Department of Education …

Peter McNamara’s27 abuse of the children at St. Josephs has caused untold misery for the men involved. Nothing can make up for what happened to them and we deeply regret their suffering.

1.110Sr Úna O’Neill’s evidence on the background to these apologies is dealt with in detail in the chapter on the Sisters of Charity.

1.111Sr Úna O’Neill said that the Congregation contributed to the Redress Fund because:

we had a number of civil cases before the Court at that time … We had had the experience, I had the experience of attending these court cases and I had seen what that process had done particularly to the men who had taken the cases against us. I had spoken to them about the experience with both of them. I saw what it did with both the volunteers and the staff who had to testify. There was a strong pastoral reason for us not subjecting anybody to that kind of process if we could avoid it.

We also felt the definition of abuse was so broad that it would invite many more cases against us and in fact that has proved to be the case. There has been a very, very significant increase in the number of cases that have come in from 2000 up to today, very significant increase for those that had come in beforehand.

We also felt that if we didnt contribute to the scheme, maybe we were wrong in this, we felt that perhaps the Redress scheme would give a partial payment to the children and then they would seek the rest from us through legal means and that would have been the same reason as I have given beforehand.

The Christian Brothers

1.112The Christian Brothers were involved in six industrial schools and one residential school for deaf boys, as well as numerous primary and post-primary schools throughout the country. This is discussed fully in the General Chapter on the Christian Brothers.

1.113The apologies issued by the Christian Brothers are dealt with in full in the General Chapter on the Christian Brothers. On 29th March 1998, the Christian Brothers issued the following apology:

Over the past number of years we have received from some former pupils serious complaints of ill-treatment and abuse by some Christian Brothers in schools and residential centres. We the Christian Brothers in Ireland wish to express our deep regret to anyone who suffered ill-treatment while in our care and we say to you who have experienced physical or sexual abuse by a Christian Brother and to you who complained of abuse and were not listened to we are deeply sorry.

We want to do much more than say we are sorry. As an initial step we have already put in place a range of services to offer a practical response and further services will be provided as the needs become clearer.

1.114The Christian Brothers told the Committee that they welcomed the establishment of the Redress Scheme. Br Gibson stated that:

We would have welcomed it because, I suppose, fundamentally we, ourselves, had tried to set up a mediation process and when the Government approached CORI and asked CORI would they be prepared to donate a sum to that fund, we were happy to be involved in doing that.

1.115He continued:

And, of course, the most important thing, I suppose, was it was going to be set up on a statutory basis, which we hadnt been able to do. Maybe, just to say also we were aware that because of the serious nature of the complaints that had come, it was very difficult to make a judgment about these. The Redress Scheme was not going to make a judgment on those. We found particularly ourselves that a lot of the people being accused were dead … And a lot of people that had complaints against them were denying them vigorously, Brothers were denying them vigorously. We were in the middle with an allegation and a person who was saying this did not happen. We had many Brothers who had spent, say, three or four years in institutions and then subsequently had spent, maybe, 30 to 40 years teaching outside the institutions. During their time in the schools, there had been no complaints against them, but subsequent to the apologies, allegations had come. So we felt that long drawn-out process of legal litigation would not help anyone. So because of that, we were quite happy to join with the Congregations in supporting the Government scheme. When the Taoiseach in October of 2000 announced in principle anyway that he was going to establish a body to compensate people, quite quickly we got an additional 380 complaints. By the time the Agreement was signed, we had roughly about 800 complaints, 791 potential complaints … So we felt that the Redress Scheme was an opportunity to assist those who had been in institutions to come to closure in a difficult experience that they had had … Also, that it wasnt making a judgment because – judging something that took place 40, 50, 60 years ago was very difficult to judge. So, in a sense, what we would feel is that from the very beginning of child abuse coming to our attention in 1990, we have tried to be proactive in setting in place structures that would assist people to come forward and would help them to come to terms with the experience of abuse that they have suffered. We also put in place supports for people who were accused of abuse, who were traumatised by the allegations of abuse and the fact of setting up independent advisory panels and child protection services helped us in doing that.

The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul

1.116The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul operated one industrial school, four orphanages, five centres for people with intellectual disability, an orthopaedic residential children’s hospital, and a mother and baby home.

1.117Sr Catherine Mulligan, a former Provincial Leader of the Congregation, stated that the Congregation did not give a public apology for the following reason:

that was a considered stance on our part, again because of what we considered to be the lower number of cases against any particular institution and … having gathered the information that we gathered, we could not say that we ran an abusive system.

1.118However, the Congregation did contribute to the Redress Scheme, and Sr Mulligan gave reasons for this. She said:

I think there was a general feeling that we should become part of that insofar as we could. We were invited by the Government to become part of it and I don’t think there was any sort of hesitancy about becoming part of it.

The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge

1.119The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge operated an industrial school in Drumcondra in Dublin, and a reformatory school at St Anne’s, Kilmacud, Dublin.

1.120Sr Lucy Bruton gave evidence on behalf of the Congregation, and reiterated that they wanted to be associated with the CORI apology of January 2002, which stated:

We accept that some children in residential institutions managed by our members suffered deprivation, physical and sexual abuse. We regret that, we apologise for it. We can never take away the pain experienced at the time by these children nor the shadow left over their adult lives. Today the congregations with the State are giving a concrete expression of their genuine desire to foster healing and reconciliation in the lives of former residents.

1.121She added that:

At that time this expressed for us the feeling we had for people, complainants, and for people who felt they had been abused or badly treated and we associate ourselves positively with that statement today. We also welcome the reconciliation aspect of the Commission and we hope that this would help us to move forward and move on.

1.122Sr Bruton gave a number of reasons why the Congregation decided to be part of the Redress Scheme:

First of all, CORI invited us to be part of the group of 18 Religious Orders who were involved in childcare and the Government invited that group to participate and contribute to the Redress Fund and in solidarity we decided to participate in the scheme …

We were conscious of the five litigation cases that were pending against us at that time and obviously we felt I suppose because there were some that we might hear of others. We felt that it would be easier and quicker and less adversarial than the court process. We would have indemnity following on the litigation which would mean that funds that would be contributed would be directed towards former residents rather than in legal costs and in long trials. We felt that it would give a measure of closure and that we would be enabled to move forward without the long process of legal trials which are hard to prove either way and particularly with so many of the people involved not actually being there.

The Brothers of Charity

1.123The Brothers of Charity operated two schools for children with learning disabilities: Our Lady of Good Counsel, Lota in Cork, and Holy Family School in Renmore, County Galway. They also ran an adult psychiatric hospital in Belmount Park in Waterford, which included an adjacent service for adults with intellectual disabilities. A similar service for adults with learning disabilities was established in Clarinbridge in Galway, and another in Bawnmore in Limerick. Today, the Congregation is the largest provider of services for people with an intellectual disability in Ireland.

1.124The Brothers issued a public apology in 1995. Br John O’Shea, the Regional Leader in the Congregation, gave evidence at the Emergence hearings:

We offered an apology and we offered counselling to people who had been abused while in our services, and we encouraged that other people who had been abused would go to their local Garda Station or whatever, and make their allegations known there … I feel for us that 1995 was the watershed in the sense of our awareness that we had a fairly significant issue with abuse. I suppose because the thing came to light, there was obviously a public interest in it, and I think while I wouldnt have the exact wording for 1995, but the general sense that we had was look, this has happened. It was quite a shock to us really because it wasnt something we were prepared for, and certainly the individual incidents we would have known of previously didnt add up to a comprehensive picture, if you like, of widescale abuse. I think when we became aware of this and the fact that it was a significant issue, our apology and, again, as I say, it was in the context of maybe responding to what was at this stage in the public domain and, I suppose, maybe articulating our response to it, that was to be one where we wanted to be open about it, we wanted to encourage people who had complaints to make that it was better to get them out in the open and that there were proper channels for doing this, and we particularly encouraged people to report their allegations to the Gardaí. Because the service we provide would have resources in counselling and so on, we encouraged people that felt they needed that to look for support, if you like.

1.125Explaining why the Congregation contributed to the Redress Scheme, he stated that, prior to the Redress Scheme, the Congregation was facing approximately 50 civil claims:

I suppose one of the things we felt if we were to go down a legal route, that it would be a very long and complex thing and very difficult, and maybe particularly again for people that were abused, it would be putting them through extra trauma and confrontation. Certainly our approach was that we wanted whatever we were doing to be as least confrontational as possible … Redress would have provided an opening to us that would have many advantages that the legal route wouldnt have. I suppose taking the population that we are dealing with again, that it would be difficult for people with a disability to maybe articulate their case, particularly if it had been done in a confrontational setting …

Redress offered the more acceptable forum, if you like, for dealing with the issues that we had to deal with. I suppose another issue would be where people are denying that any abuse took place, that it also affords the person making allegations, that if they feel that they are entitled to compensation for maybe the general institutional atmosphere that they lived in or whatever hardship or deprivation might go with that, where it mightnt be a specific allegation of a particular misdemeanour by anyone.

The Daughters of the Heart of Mary

1.126The Daughters of the Heart of Mary operated one institution, St Josephs Orphanage, Dun Laoghaire from 1860 to 1985. The Sisters also operated a school, a retreat house, and two guest houses for retired women.

1.127The Congregation had not issued a public apology. Sr Anne Boland, Provincial of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, gave evidence to the Emergence hearings that, in 1971, a resident of one of the schools disclosed to the Sisters that she had been sexually abused by a man who, along with his wife, took some of the girls out for weekends. The Sisters reported the matter to the Gardaí. In 1997, a former resident instituted legal proceedings alleging abuse against a visiting priest. The Sisters believe that this priest was convicted of charges relating to the abuse.

1.128The Congregation contributed to the Redress Fund. Sr Boland stated:

when the Redress Scheme was being drawn up, at that time we had one set of allegations against us, and we also had a number of records or requests for records, small in number, asking for records. In view of the fact that we had over 2,000 children in our care down through the years, we felt more claims could come in. But I would have to say also we found there were very few. At that point, there was only one allegation. Since then, two other allegations have come to us and we felt the best way to compensate, even though we realise the care was good, and, you know, that would be from talking to the Sisters and, indeed, from the past children, that it was a place that they were happy in. But, nonetheless, we felt we could not meet their needs in a way that an ordinary family would. So in order to redress that or compensate, we felt it would be better to go down the line of entering the Redress Scheme. It would be less adversarial or conflictual to them and to us for them to have to come or to put a claim for money to us individually. So that is really why we entered the Redress Scheme.

The De La Salle Brothers

1.129The De La Salle Brothers had significant experience of residential care in England. They first became involved in residential care in Ireland in 1972, when St Laurence’s School in Finglas in Dublin was opened. They were involved in the school until 1994. The De La Salle Brothers also operate numerous primary and post-primary schools throughout the country.

1.130The De La Salle Brothers considered issuing a public apology but decided against it, preferring instead to issue individuals apologies. Br Pius McCarthy, the Provincial Secretary of the Order, gave evidence at the Emergence hearings:

After the Christian Brothers made their apology, we thought about something similar, we questioned whether we should do it or not, but we decided against it, we decided to deal with each case individually, because at the time there was the Garda investigation going on and we werent quite sure what the outcome would be. We felt that by making an apology, we might be indicating or influencing one way or the other. So we have apologised in individual cases where somebody has come to us and said that they were abused. We just decided that it would be better not to go down the road of a public apology.

1.131The Order contributed to the Redress Scheme for the following reasons:

In April 2001, we were invited by CORI to become part of the group of congregations who were then negotiating with the State with regard to making a contribution to the compensation scheme that had been announced in October 2000. The Congregations who were negotiating had agreed in principle to make a contribution to the scheme and details of the same were being discussed. We were approached, because there was at that time litigation in existence relating to Finglas Children’s Centre, and even though we didnt own the centre nor did we manage it in the strict sense, the Resident Manager was a De La Salle Brother throughout the years and we had an involvement in administration and also De La Salle Brothers had worked in it …

We were also aware that some of the complaints made were specifically directed towards members of the Congregation. At the time we were approached by CORI, we were aware of eight claims arising from the centre. Really we were made aware of them by CORI, they got the information for us. We were advised that any contribution made by the Congregations would be in consideration of an indemnity from the State and this would bring some certainty with regard to future litigation. We were also aware of the ongoing Garda investigation into St. Laurences which began in 1995 … Also, we had come into the negotiations at a late stage and accordingly we were guided to some extent by what the other Congregations had done and we also wanted to show solidarity with them.

The Sisters of St Clare

1.132The Sisters of St Clare, or the Poor Clares as they were also known, operated two institutions, an industrial school in Cavan and a private orphanage at Harold’s Cross, with a primary school and a commercial school attached.

1.133They did not issue a public apology. Sr Patricia Rogers, Congregational Leader, outlined the reasons for this as follows:

We have not issued a public apology, but we have associated ourselves with the CORI apology, because we would accept that for many years the daily routine in the institutions, they just didnt take account of the needs of children. The life was too regulated and too disciplined to allow for differences in their physical and emotional development. While Sisters and the lay staff who worked in the institutions made attempts to improve the physical surroundings in which the children lived, it seems clear that there was less understanding of the children’s need for affection and emotional support … The State provided very little at that time by way of support services, and access to psychologists and social workers was very limited. I think as a result of that, both the children and their carers suffered.

1.134Sr Rogers stated that the Congregation contributed to the Redress Scheme for the following reasons:

… we felt that we would be assisting people who had been in our care during their childhood and who are now experiencing difficulties in their lives. We believe that the Redress Scheme presented an opportunity for ending litigation in a quicker and in a less adversarial manner than would be the case in court. We wanted at all costs to avoid a confrontation situation if that were possible.

We also believe that the money expended by the Congregation would go directly to the residents rather than be absorbed by legal fees.

We were aware that the Redress Scheme was going to have a far lower threshold of proof than the courts in that no blame was going to be apportioned to any individual or institution as a result of that.

The Presentation Sisters

1.135The Presentation Sisters operated two industrial schools, St Francis’s Industrial School, Cashel, County Tipperary, and St Bernard’s Industrial School, Dundrum, County Tipperary, which later moved to Fethard in County Tipperary. The Presentation Sisters in Ireland continue to have strong links with both primary and post-primary schools.

1.136Sr Claude Meagher, Provincial of the South East Province of the Congregation, informed the Committee that the Sisters decided to contribute to the Redress Scheme because:

CORI invited the Congregations to participate and, I suppose, there was quite a lot of discussion and reflection went into that, and we made a decision because we had those two industrial schools and we were aware that claims were now being initiated by former residents, those made over the phone and those who had looked for records. We were aware too that in one of the institutions certainly, the regime might have been described as harsh, but the building and all about it prior to 1954, it wouldnt meet present standards or anything near present standards, but renovation was done there in 1974. I suppose our own enquiries and reading records would lead us to believe that the School wasn’t adequate, so we feel that people would have suffered there, they may have suffered … I suppose we believe too that protracted litigation isnt in anybodys interest and we know there would be huge difficulty, on the advice of our legal advisers, in following cases that are dating back to the past, particularly where the Sisters who may have been involved are dead and it is difficult to establish what happened. So in that sense we would feel it is important we would be part of the Government Redress Scheme. I suppose there would be considerable expenses involved in that, and that it is better to maybe direct the money to the Redress Scheme rather than maybe trying to pursue legal issues in court.

The Sisters of St Louis

1.137The Sisters of St Louis operated one industrial school, St Marthas Industrial School in Bundoran, County Donegal. Sisters from the Congregation also worked at St Joseph’s Orphanage in Bundoran, which was under diocesan management. The St Louis Sisters are involved in primary and post-primary education in Ireland.

1.138The Sisters of St Louis have not issued a public apology.

1.139Sr Noreen Shankey, Regional Leader for Ireland, outlined the reasons why the Congregation contributed to the Redress Scheme:

central to our participation in the Redress Scheme was a desire to prevent the ordeal of past residents and ourselves having to go through the courts. As I mentioned, we had no cases against us until after the Taoiseachs apology and the redress had been announced. We also felt that the way of redress was a more humane way and that it would lead in the direction of healing and reconciliation, and I welcome this emphasis with the present Commission and the approach you are taking.

We were also advised by our legal people of the difficulty of prosecuting cases of this nature before the courts, we could have long drawn out cases. Because the events happened so long ago and with the Statute of Limitations, most of the people are dead, in fact all except one person. We felt that the money would be better spent on redress than in legal fees.

There was also an element of support from the other congregations because these discussions were already underway when we joined in, there were already 12 Congregations, so we came in late in the day, but there was a supportive element being with the other Congregations as well as learning from their experience.

There was also the advantage that if people went to redress, we would be indemnified against other claims in the courts.

The Hospitaller Order of St John of God

1.140The Order of St John of God operated a day and residential school for children with learning disabilities at St Augustine’s in Blackrock, County Dublin and other institutions. In Ireland, the Order provides mental health services, care for older people, and services for children and adults with disabilities.

1.141Fr Fintan Whitmore, Provincial of the Order, said that the Order had not issued a public apology:

No, no. We have not been able to establish as a fact that what was said has actually happened. Therefore, we have no way of corroborating that. There have been no convictions, there have been no proceedings that have arrived at any court processes and so on in relation to that, and nobody has come forward with a confession that these things have happened or that they were perpetrators of these acts within our own organisation.

What we would say though, and I think what we have said in most cases, in all cases I would say if it were true that abuse had taken place, then it is a most regrettable thing and we would regret that any such happening could have happened or, indeed, that anything could have happened to people that would leave them disturbed as a result of being in treatment or in care with us or during their time with us.

1.142However, the Order did contribute to the Redress Fund. Fr Whitmore outlined the reasons why, as follows:

There are a number of reasons. One is the way in which we felt a lot of this could go without something like the Redress Board was that it could get into litigation that would be an adversarial system, that the people who were coming forward with accusations were vulnerable people who had difficulties with life in general, and neither for themselves nor for ourselves or anyone else would a long process involving court appearances and denials and statements and so on and so forth have been beneficial to anybody, so we felt that a process which would try to ascertain the truth without going through what could have been very difficult processes for all concerned would have been a better way to go. We also felt that we should act in solidarity with other religions at the time. The indemnity was also an attractive proposition. They would be the principal reasons.

The Sisters of Nazareth

1.143The Sisters of Nazareth provided services for children and the elderly in Ireland. The Sisters of Nazareth operated a residential home for boys and girls, called the Nazareth House, which was situated in County Sligo.

1.144The Sisters of Nazareth have not issued a public apology.

1.145Sr Cornelia Walsh, Sister Superior of the Congregation, outlined the reasons why the Congregation contributed to the Redress Scheme:

Yes, we did, we joined. As a congregation we are a member of CORI and have been for many years. And as such we were aware of and involved in the contacts between CORI and the government representatives, which culminated in the setting up of the scheme. As I said, we are one of the contributing Congregations. We welcome the Governments initiative and have been dismayed at the obvious pain felt by so many of the country’s citizens recalling a period in their lives when the pain of poverty, abandonment and loss was worsened. We consider that the Governments initiative in recognising the shared involvement of the State and those who sought to supplement and provide care which the State could not, was a very worthy one, particularly as it offered a non-adversarial and speedy avenue for those seeking and needing redress. We felt that the desire to heal and provide help was defeated by the necessary rigours of the adversarial process which was neither in the interests of the genuinely hurt and also the elderly and sick Sisters who would have been required to attend hearings. And it is for that reason that we joined the scheme.

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate

1.146The Oblate Order operated Daingean Reformatory School in County Offaly [formerly Glencree] and a detention centre at Scoil Ard-Mhuire in Lusk, County Dublin.

1.147The Oblates issued a press statement following the broadcast of ‘States of Fear’ on 28th April 1999. It read:

We are asked to comment on the programme “States of Fear”. We would firstly say that the abuse of young people is always abhorrent and abuse of young people in confinement is doubly so. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate deeply regret that any young man was mistreated while in their care and offer sincerest apologies.

At the same time we cannot accept certain of the assertions made by the programme particularly in relation to funding. However, before commenting further, a more detailed study of the available records would be required. We are glad the point was made that many boys did experience kindness. This programme has lifted a veil on the way that disadvantaged children have been treated in Irish Society. Hopefully it will prove to be a step in a continuing work of research and healing.

1.148Fr Tom Murphy, a member of the Order, said that the Oblates contributed to the Redress Scheme because:

We felt that the redress procedure was best for the claimants and that it was better that the money should go to them rather than for legal expenses. We also felt very strongly that this would be and should be a pastoral reaction, a pastoral action if you like, in relation to the whole question of abuse. We also saw a certain value in being one in solidarity with other religious Congregations who were supporting the contribution. It would also save surviving members, now elderly, and staff members from the trauma of maybe long, litigious lawsuits. And it would also sort of avoid any excessively adversarial modes of civil courts which would give rise to further alienation of claimants. In addition we hope that it would speed up and facilitate a process of closure around this whole question. We also needed to justify pledging funds that we held for our mission for this special purpose of contributing, and after legal advice which we felt we had to have, we made the contribution.

Evidence from representatives of the survivor groups

1.149Ten groups representing survivors of child abuse were invited to attend the Emergence hearings. These were:

  1. The Irish Deaf Society
  2. Irish SOCA
  3. SOCA UK
  4. Right to Peace
  5. One in Four
  6. Right of Place
  7. Alliance Victim Support
  8. Irish Survivors of Institutional Abuse International
  9. The Aislinn Centre
  10. The London Irish Women’s Group.

The Irish Deaf Society

1.150Mr Kevin Stanley gave evidence on behalf of the Irish Deaf Society, a representative body which has a number of umbrella groups within its organisation; one of these is for survivors of abuse who are deaf. This was set up following the broadcast of ‘States of Fear’ and was designed to ‘give deaf people an opportunity to discuss things, their experiences and really to assist in part of the healing process, healing from the pain that they would have experienced’.

1.151The long-term objectives of the Society are to raise awareness that abuse has taken place in schools for the deaf, which they believe was directly linked with the introduction of oralism and the banning of sign language, that led to physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect.

Irish SOCA

1.152Mr Patrick Walsh is a member of a survivor group known as Irish SOCA (Survivors of Child Abuse), and he was nominated to represent it for the purpose of the Emergence hearings. After the Taoiseach’s statement of 11th May 1999, a number of firms of solicitors placed advertisements in various newspapers in the UK and Ireland, and public meetings were organised. SOCA (Survivors of Child Abuse) was established at a meeting in London on 19th June 1999. Soon afterwards, SOCA split into two groups, Irish SOCA and SOCA UK. The two groups were not mutually exclusive, and many of SOCA’s members belonged to both organisations.

1.153Mr Walsh said that the purpose of the group was to act as a support group for survivors, so that they could make representations to the Irish Government on the proposed Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and Residential Institutions Redress legislation. It has also participated in various consultative processes and made submissions to the Law Reform Commission during its work on the Statute of Limitations. The group also assists its members in seeking access to information and operates a legal referral service.

1.154Mr Walsh said that Irish SOCA is funded from ‘the personal resources of the executive members of Irish SOCA‘. He said it is not funded by the State, the Roman Catholic Church, or membership fees.


1.155Mr Michael Waters gave evidence on behalf of SOCA UK (Survivors of Child Abuse – UK). He traced the origins of the group to meetings that he used to have with other former residents of Artane at social occasions. These meetings were initially very informal and in the nature of an Artane Old Boys School.

1.156In the early years, there were three to four meetings a year. They wrote to everybody they thought might be able to help. The broadcast of ‘Dear Daughter’ in the mid-1990s marked a watershed for them:

This without doubt was groundbreaking stuff … This was the flagship overall, this was the one that now had brought it all mainstream …

1.157He said that it had a major impact on his members:

It certainly did because although we were supporting each other and coming up into the mid-90s now you had a mixed group of people. It was no longer a sort of — although it still had a title until into the mid-90s, the Artane Old Boys, but that was really redundant, that was defunct as such because there was women that was involved as well that had been in the institutes.

1.158The first big meeting was in Coventry in 1998, and this venue was chosen to facilitate members travelling from all over the UK. They advertised the meeting in the Irish Post, and the meeting was attended by approximately 100 people. That meeting was followed by more meetings in Coventry and in Birmingham. Numbers had grown to over 500, and the idea to form a group was emerging. Eventually, a meeting was held on 19th June 1999 in London, and SOCA was launched at this meeting. A constitution was adopted on 27th June 1999.

1.159Mr Waters explained that his organisation has made representations to the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and the Redress Board. They also worked towards developing an independent counselling service, as many of their members did not wish to avail of the counselling provided by the Religious Orders. SOCA UK continued to have regular meetings and assist their members in tracing their family of origin, and they also refer people for legal advice.

1.160The group is funded by the Department of Education and Science.

Right to Peace

1.161Mr Michael O’Brien gave evidence on behalf of ‘Right to Peace’. He said that the origins of his group could be traced back to 1999, when a lady named Josephine Baker organised a meeting to discuss institutional abuse for people who had attended Ferryhouse Industrial School. Following the meeting, a group of approximately 13 former residents of Ferryhouse decided to establish a group ‘to see what we could do about the abuse that we suffered while children, sexual, physical, traumatic and verbal abuse in an institution where we were sent to be cared for, in an institution where we were supposed to be taught, cleaned, looked after and fed’. After the meeting, Mr O’Brien said that he tried to promote his group in the media by placing advertisements in newspapers and giving interviews on local radio. He said that the group has approximately 300 members and its aim:

was to get the State to do something about this abuse. Why? That it would never again happen in this country that any child would be abused again in this country. That was our main aim. Every obstacle that you can think of was put in our way, no help from nobody.

1.162He continued:

Thats why we set up our group to see can we get our rights back, to see can we get redress for what happened for those of us who didnt do so well after coming out.

1.163Mr O’Brien said that Right to Peace engages in counselling, giving advice and holding meetings. The group is funded by the Department of Education and Science.

One in Four

1.164‘One in Four’ is a service-based, non-profit organisation and a registered charity that provides support to men and women who have suffered sexual violence or sexual abuse. It was founded by Mr Colm O’Gorman in the UK in 1999. Mr O’Gorman outlined the background to its establishment and its early development as follows:

The charity was originally founded in the UK in 1999 … It became a registered charity in the year 2000 and it launched its services then. In Ireland I had been personally involved in the making of a documentary with BBC television in relation to clerical sexual abuse. When that documentary aired we found that our office in London was being inundated with calls from Irish people, people both living in Ireland and in the UK, talking about their own experiences of sexual violence.

1.165He continued:

We subsequently in late April 2002 had a meeting with officials of the Department of An Taoiseach. As a result of that meeting we felt very encouraged to perhaps proceed more speedily than we had first anticipated towards the establishment of an organisation. We submitted proposals to Government and were told to go ahead with the establishment of the Irish organisation. We secured offices in November 2002 and started to see the first clients of the service in about February 2003.

1.166The organisation provides a psychotherapy programme and an advocacy programme. Mr O’Gorman said that the organisation is funded through a variety of means, including grants from the Department of Health and Children and by fundraising.

Right of Place

1.167Mr Eugene Tracey gave evidence on behalf of ‘Right of Place’, an organisation established on 10th July 1999 to help survivors of institutional abuse. Following the Taoiseach’s apology, he and another man decided to place an advertisement in the Cork Examiner, inviting former residents of St Patrick’s Industrial School, Upton to a meeting in Cork on 10th July 1999. At this meeting, a committee was elected and it was mandated to approach the Government:

with a view to securing primarily education because a lot of us people were lacking in education through no fault of our own. A lot of us needed counselling and we didnt know how to access it, and it was literally nonexistent. Housing, social housing situations – people were living, including myself at the time, in rat-infested bedsits. We took all of these sort of situations on board.

1.168They met with the Minister for Education and Science, Mr Micheál Martin, and a number of officials from his Department, and they had discussions about how their aim of providing education and improving conditions for survivors could be achieved. To assist them in their objectives, premises were secured in Cork and leased by the Department on behalf of the group. The premises was used by the group to hold meetings, so as to keep their members informed, and it was also used to provide evening classes and literacy classes for its members. They worked in conjunction with the CORK VEC,28 who provided them with an educational facilitator. The six staff in the building were paid by FÁS.29

1.169Mr Tracey told the Committee that the education programme had been a great success and had provided courses for many people in schools and universities and trades.

1.170The group also became aware that many people who came to give evidence to the Commission needed somewhere to stay before and after they had given their evidence. Having identified this need, the organisation obtained a house with the assistance of the Department of Health and Children, and this can accommodate around 30 people. This house is also used for short-term stays for members awaiting housing. In addition, the group received a grant from the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, to build 10 apartments for the repatriation of former residents who were living outside Ireland.

1.171The organisation was initially funded by the Department of Education and Science, but it is now funded by the Department of Health and Children.

Alliance Victim Support

1.172Mr Tom Hayes gave evidence on behalf of Alliance Victim Support. They are a voluntary organisation. They provide support to survivors in Ireland, particularly those who live in isolated areas. The type of support consists of establishing the living conditions of these people and putting them in touch with professional help and advising them of their statutory entitlements.

1.173They receive some funding from the Department of Education and Science.

Irish Survivors of Institutional Abuse International

1.174Mr Tom Cronin gave evidence on behalf of this group. They were established in the UK as a result of a split with another group in 2002. He identified a number of issues that they would like the Commission to consider, such as State financing of industrial schools and how the money was spent, the role of medical personnel within the industrial school system, and the role of the ISPCC.

1.175The group do not receive any funding.

The Aislinn Centre

1.176Ms Christine Buckley, who is the Director of the Aislinn Centre, gave evidence to the Investigation Committee. She described how, following the broadcast of the programme ‘Dear Daughter’, she and two fellow survivors organised an event in the Royal Dublin Society called ‘A Happy Day’ in April 1996. The purpose of this event was to put former residents in contact with each other, and to enable them to get in touch with siblings with whom they had lost contact. The event was attended by 550 people. She spent the next few years raising awareness of the issue of child abuse. After the Taoiseach’s apology in 1999, the Aislinn Centre was established. She said that the Centre operates an ‘open door policy’, where membership is not required. She insisted that they do not operate on a membership basis, but acknowledged that they had assisted approximately 3,500 individuals who had made contact with the Centre.

1.177The work of the Centre is to promote healing through a variety of ways: counselling, education, and activities which help with self-development. They offer courses in art, music, creative writing, swimming lessons, driving lessons, financial advice through the Money Advice Budgetary Service (MABS), computers, and drama, all with a view to confidence building.

1.178The group receives some funding from the Government.

The London Irish Women’s Group

1.179Ms Sally Mulready gave evidence on behalf of the London Irish Women’s Group. The group emerged from SOCA UK, where many of the women who attended these meetings wanted to meet and talk and share experiences that were personal to them as women, mothers and grandmothers. It was set up in November 1999 and is not a rival group, and many of the members are members of other organisations. They have a mailing list of 380 women and hold monthly meetings. The group was involved in negotiations that led to the setting-up of outreach services for survivors in the UK, which is funded by the Department of Education and Science.

1.180The organisation does not receive any Government funding.

Experts and their assignments

1.181The Commission engaged experts to assist in the investigation and to report on a number of areas as outlined below.

Physical surroundings – Ciaran Fahy

1.182The Commission appointed Mr Ciaran Fahy, Consulting Engineer, to report on the physical environment in which the children resided. His brief was to examine the physical surrounding with particular reference to the buildings in Artane, Clifden and Ferryhouse Industrial Schools as well as Daingean Reformatory School. His reports are annexed to the chapters dealing with those institutions.

Finance – Mazars

1.183At the Emergence hearings in July 2004, it was clear that the Congregations would be making the case that they had not been provided with adequate funds to enable them to look after the children properly. Although the representations by the State at the Emergence hearings, and in later submissions, seemed to accept that there was inadequate financial provision for the institutions, the Committee wished to have this matter explored to try to assess to what extent the lack of finance caused or contributed to failures of care in the system.

1.184The firm of Mazars, Chartered Accountants, was engaged to report on funding. Mazars’ brief was to examine the accounts of a number of specific institutions: Artane, Goldenbridge, Ferryhouse and Daingean, and also to consider the question of funding more generally, and to review the adequacy or otherwise of the capitation payments made in respect of children in industrial and reformatory schools.

1.185Because of the general importance of the issue of finance to the investigation of the institutions, and specifically in respect of those that Mazars examined, a full discussion of this topic is contained in Vol IV, Chapter 2 of the report, where the Mazars Report is annexed, together with all the submissions that were made in response to the first draft of the report that was circulated.

Health records – Professor Anthony Staines

1.186The Committee appointed Dr Anthony Staines, formerly of UCD, now Professor of Public Health Medicine in Dublin City University, to lead a small group of researchers in a project to examine health records relating to the children in institutions. It became clear that it was impossible in any reliable way to study the health of children in the institutions on the basis of the limited and variable records that were available.

1.187The Committee has not taken the results of this study into account in its analysis of individual institutions, but it recognises and appreciates the assistance that it has received from Professor Staines and his team in their examination of the available material. The study undertaken by Professor Staines and his team is annexed at Vol V of this report.

Dr Eoin O’Sullivan

1.188Dr Eoin O’Sullivan, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at the Department of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin, gave valuable assistance to the Commission in two areas. First, he gave evidence at the opening of the Emergence hearings on 21st June 2004, where he outlined the history of industrial and reformatory schools in Ireland and helped to establish the historical context of the institutions.

1.189The second task undertaken by Dr O’Sullivan was to report on developments in the area of child protection and care in the State, from the time of the Kennedy Committee Report in 1970 to the present day. Dr O’Sullivan’s report is contained in Vol IV of this report.

Dr Diarmaid Ferriter

1.190Prior to the Phase III hearings, a firm of solicitors representing a large number of complainants commissioned Dr Diarmaid Ferriter, Senior Lecturer in Irish History at St Patrick’s College, Dublin City University, to produce a report.

1.191Dr Ferriter set out to:

attempt to put more historical context on the events discussed in the public hearings by drawing attention to issues of class, gender and sexuality generally in Irish society, and more specifically, sexual abuse in relation to the State and the legal system, as well as looking at the manner in which information emerged, and was sometimes suppressed. By extension, it will also touch on the institution of the family, emigration and how the State and the Catholic Church perceived its role in relation to the moral welfare of Irish Catholics.

1.192Because Dr Ferriter had already been engaged, the Investigation Committee received his report as a useful document containing expert research and opinion.

1.193Dr Ferriter’s report is of interest and value, but the Investigation Committee was aware that, because it deals with many of the questions that are at the very core of the Inquiry itself it could not be used as the basis of making conclusions. Recognising the value of the work, the Commission took over as sponsor, and it also is annexed to Vol IV of this report.

Mr Richard Rollinson

1.194Mr Richard Rollinson is a retired Director of the Mulberry Care Centre in Oxford. He is an expert in the field of residential childcare in the United Kingdom. The Committee asked him to furnish a brief history of residential childcare in England, as it developed in the later part of the twentieth century, and the report he furnished covers the period 1948 to 1975. Mr Rollinson’s report provides valuable comparative and contextual information on the English system, and is annexed to Vol IV of this report.

Professor David Gwynn Morgan

1.195Professor Morgan is a Professor of Law at University College, Cork. He provided enormous assistance to the Committee in research and analysis that extended over a wide area of interest to the Committee and the Commission. His work did not extend to the individual chapters on institutions, nor to the investigation of abuse in them. His particular contributions are reflected in the chapters entitled History of Industrial Schools and Reformatories, Gateways and the Department of Education. Professor Morgan conducted original research into material that would have been very difficult to access without the assistance of Mr Jimmy Maloney of the Department of Education and Science, whose contribution is acknowledged.

Research project – Professor Alan Carr

1.196In its Opening Statement and at the Second Public Sitting on 20th July 2000, the Commission announced its intention to conduct a research project. The Third Interim Report outlined the proposed project.30 Difficulties were encountered in setting up the project, and the Commission under Mr Justice Sean Ryan revised the scheme in consultation with Professor Alan Carr of the Department of Psychology, University College Dublin. It was undertaken in 2005 and 2006. There were 247 residents of institutions who gave evidence to the Commission and were interviewed by Professor Carr’s research team. The report containing the results of the research study is published in full in Volume IV of this report.

1.197The ‘research study’ stands alone and separate from the work of the Commission, and its conclusions were not taken into account in the reports submitted by the two Committees to the Commission. The ‘research study’ comprises original research which adds to the knowledge of this field of study.

1 Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, Initial Report on Terms of Reference, 7th September 1999.

2 Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, Report on Terms of Reference, 14th October 1999.

3 Amendments were also made by the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002: See Section 32.

4 Section 1 of the Principal Act, as amended by section 3 of the 2005 Act.

5 Section 15(1) of the Principal Act, as amended by section 10 of the 2005 Act.

6 Section 16 of the Principal Act as amended by section 11 of the 2005 Act.

7 Section 4(6) as substituted by section 4 of the 2005 Act.

8 Section 12(1) of the Principal Act, as amended by section 7 of the 2005 Act.

9 Section 12(1)(d)(iii), as amended by section 7(c) of the 2005 Act.

10 Section 14, as amended by section 9 of the 2005 Act.

11 Section 14(1)(a) of the Principal Act.

12 Section 14(1)(b)–(d) of the Principal Act.

13 Section 14(1)(e) of the Principal Act.

14 Section 14(8) of the Principal Act, as inserted by section 9 of the 2005 Act.

15 Section 14(9) of the Principal Act, as inserted by section 9 of the 2005 Act.

16 Section 14(11) of the Principal Act, as inserted by section 9 of the 2005 Act.

17 Section 14(10) of the Principal Act, as amended by section 9 of the 2005 Act.

18 Section 14(14) of the Principal Act, as inserted by section 9 of the 2005 Act.

19 Section 14 of the Principal Act, as amended by section 9 of the 2005 Act.

20 Section 13 of the Principal Act, as amended by section 8 of the 2005 Act.

21 Section 1(1) of the Principal Act.

22 ‘Dear Daughter’ was a dramatised programme broadcast in 1996 by RTE which featured Goldenbridge Industrial School.

23 There were three programmes broadcast by RTE in 1999 in the ‘States of Fear’ series: ‘Industrial Schools and Reformatories from the 1940s–1980s’, ‘The Legacy of Industrial Schools’, and ‘Sick and Disabled Children in Institutions’.

24 Under the terms of the indemnity agreement reached with the Religious Congregations on 5th June 2002, the Congregations agreed to make a contribution of €128 million towards the redress scheme. This was broken down as follows: cash contribution €41.14 million; provision of counselling services €10 million and property transfers €76.86 million.

25 An organisation funded by the Congregations that provides counselling for persons who have been abused by religious Orders and Congregations.

26 This is dealt with in full in the chapter on St Joseph’s Industrial School, Greenmount.

27 This is a pseudonym.

28 Cork VEC – Cork Vocational Education Committees.

29 FÁS – Training and employment authority.

30 See Third Interim Report, chapter 4.

Chapter 2
History of industrial schools and reformatories1

An early nineteenth-century social problem

2.01The earliest provision in Britain and Ireland for destitute children is to be found in the Act for the Relief of the Poor of 1598. It provided for the appointment in every parish of ‘overseers of the poor’ with, among other specific duties, those of ‘setting to work the children of all such whose parents shall not be thought able to keep and maintain their children’. In 1771, legislation was enacted, under which overseers were appointed to arrange for the maintenance and education of orphaned or deserted children out of money raised by the parish. It was envisaged, too, that work-houses were to be built, financed either by voluntary contribution or, if these were not forthcoming, by official grants. In fact, neither was available on anything like the scale necessary to meet the need. By the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, in both Ireland and Britain, the rapid growth of populations meant that the parish ceased to be a viable unit for the administration of relief. Destitute children roamed the countryside or streets, foraging for food and pilfering for a livelihood. In Ireland, the Famine (1845–1849) made a bad situation immeasurably worse, leading to the desertion of children by parents.

2.02On an official level, the response to this significant social problem was the Poor Relief (Ireland) Act, 1838. This established or confirmed a system of workhouses throughout the country, under the central authority of the Irish Poor Law Commissioners (replaced in 1872 by the Local Government Board for Ireland). By 1853, 77,000 children below 15 years of age (one third of them orphans), which was 6.5% of the age cohort, were living in workhouses, while an unknown number of ‘street urchins’ were still living wild in the towns.

2.03One of the workhouse system rules was that families were forced to split, with children seeing their parents only once a week. Moreover, in the workhouses, the children had to mix with all types of adult paupers and vagrants, giving rise to the real possibility of abuse. No effective education was provided. In addition, the stigma attached to workhouses meant that they were perceived as providing charity for ‘the shameless, the idle and the shiftless’.

2.04It might have been thought that an alternative policy to the workhouse could have been tried, namely to make direct contributions of money or necessities to those in need (a policy then generally known as ‘outdoor relief’), since this would allow the poor families involved to be assisted outside the workhouse system. However, this was unpopular in official quarters, because of the danger that it would be taken advantage of by persons who in fact had their own resources on which to draw. It was partly to reduce the chance of this that workhouses had been established: for the orthodox thinking was that charity should be extended only to those who were prepared to accept the harshest and most overcrowded of conditions.

2.05Apart from these official efforts, charitable organisations and individual philanthropists also attempted to alleviate the problem by gathering some of these children into orphanages, charity schools, ‘ragged schools’2 – all institutions depending on voluntary contributions and, often, on voluntary labour.

2.06However, neither workhouses nor voluntary efforts were equal to the scale of the problem, and it came to be accepted that something more was required. In the first half of the nineteenth century in Britain and in Ireland, there were several commissions and committees to investigate both the broad subject of poverty3 and the particular needs of poor children. The industrial school system was proposed as a solution. This idea was based on a Continental model and, by the 1850s, Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia had nearly a hundred institutions for criminal and destitute juveniles, whose achievements were well known in Ireland and Britain. The thrust of the education provided in these schools, some of which were called ‘Farm Schools’, was in favour of practical training, which would equip the children for employment, rather than academic learning. This approach fitted in well with the Victorian idea of utilitarian progress, and also helped to provide skills to fuel the Industrial Revolution. The motivation for these reforms has also been variously attributed to the desire to help the needy, or the need to control those whom the authorities viewed as a threat to the existing order.

Legislation and establishment

2.07This Continental model was put into legislative effect and was implemented in Britain, in the 1850s.4 In Ireland a little later, the reformatory system was established by the Reformatory Schools (Ireland) Act, 1858. A decade later, the industrial schools came too, this time by way of a Private Member’s Bill introduced by The O’Connor Don,5 which became law as the Industrial Schools (Ireland) Act, 1868. The reformatories were for those guilty of offences; and industrial schools for those neglected, orphaned or abandoned; in other words, not for criminal children, but those potentially exposed to crime. This dichotomy was in line with a fairly well-established distinction between a penal school for youthful offenders and a ‘ragged school’ for the poor or vagrant.

2.08In Ireland, the initial result of the 1858 and 1868 Acts was that a number of existing voluntary schools and homes applied for and were granted certificates as reformatories or industrial schools. These were for the reception of children committed by the courts, and they became eligible for grants from public funds for the maintenance of such children. The next few decades brought extensive new buildings and institutions. Although reformatory schools were established first, industrial schools soon surpassed them, both in numbers of schools and of pupils. In the seven years after 1858, 10 reformatories (five for females) were certified. By the end of the century, only seven of the 10 original reformatories survived, some of the former reformatories having been re-certified as industrial schools; and, by 1922, only five remained (one of which was a reformatory for boys in Northern Ireland). The reformatory school population, which was nearly 800 immediately after the passing of the 1858 Act, fell to 300 in 1882, and to 150 in 1900.

2.09On the other hand, however, by 1875, there were 50 industrial schools, and the highest number of industrial schools was reached in 1898, when there were a total of 71 schools, of which 61 (56 schools for Catholics and five for Protestants) were in the 26 counties. At its height, in 1898 the population in the industrial schools was 7,998 residents, compared with the 6,000 children in the same year in the considerably less salubrious conditions of the workhouses. Moreover, in the late nineteenth century, social and economic conditions in Ireland were such that many children had to be refused places in the schools. In 1882, over 70% of committal entries to industrial schools were made under the category of begging.6

2.10The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were eras when social reformers began to notice children as individuals susceptible to neglect and ill-treatment. In Edwardian England, reformers like Charles Booth and Sebohm Rowntree were attempting to quantify poverty, analysing its causes and characteristics. One consequence of this thinking was that all the nineteenth-century legislation in this field7 was replaced by the Children Act, 1908, popularly known as the Children’s Charter. While making relatively slight substantive amendments,8 this Act applied a unified system of law to both types of schools in Britain and in Ireland. The Children Act, 1908 dealt with a number of topics, among them the prevention of cruelty to children, protection of infant life, and provision for juvenile offence. However, its most important provisions were in Part IV, which provided the constitutional basis for reformatories and industrial schools. It continued to be the primary legislation for vulnerable children in Ireland until it was amended by the Child Care Act, 1991 which was not fully operational until 1996. The 1991 Act was replaced by the Children Act, 2001 which was signed into law in July 2001.

2.11The 1908 Act was one of a trio of measures introduced by the Home Secretary, Herbert Gladstone, and justly regarded as a late flowering of Victorian reformism. The other two measures were the Probation of Offenders Act, 1907 and the Prevention of Crime Act, 1908, which established borstals. Another reform in a slightly earlier period was that the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) was first established in 1875 in the United States, and then in Britain in 1884, and in Ireland in 1889.

2.12It may be worth quoting from section 44 of the Children Act, 1908 since this is the closest the legislation comes to what later generations would call a mission statement for the schools. This section states:

The expression “industrial school” means a school for the industrial training of children, in which children are lodged, clothed and fed, as well as taught.

2.13The definition of a ‘reformatory school’ is defined in the same terms by section 44 of the 1908 Act, but, with the substitution of ‘youthful offenders’ for ‘children’.

Policies underlying the School system

Intervention in the family

2.14Until the legislation establishing the schools, the law seldom intervened in the affairs of a family. The new legislation, however, gave Magistrates’ Courts (the pre-Independence equivalent of the District Court) jurisdiction to intervene in the interest of the child, usually of the poorer class, to protect their physical or moral wellbeing. Doing so meant a major interference with the family and parental rights.

2.15Barnes9 states that, as originally conceived, industrial schools had two objectives: the first being to provide appropriate skills and training to enable children ‘to be capable of supporting themselves by honest labour’; the other being to reform the child’s character. To achieve these ends, it was considered necessary that ‘the links between child and home [be] ruthlessly cut’, on the basis that the home was a bad influence. For this reason, committal was generally imposed for the maximum period, correspondence between the children and families was vetted, and parental visits were allowed only at the discretion of the Manager.

Religious ownership and management

2.16Each type of school was to be independently managed and run, though subject to State approval and inspection. Thus, a fundamental feature was private, largely religious philanthropy. It seemed natural that churches should take responsibility for providing assistance to the poor. In Ireland, Catholic emancipation in 1829 made the Church a central institution. It was powerful both at the level of the Hierarchy and, even more so, at grassroots where, in the absence of a trusted landowner class, the priests who were educated and nationalistic were regarded as community leaders. Apart from religion, the main focus of the Church’s influence lay in education. The burgeoning character of the Catholic Church in the post-Famine period may be illustrated by the simple fact that the number of nuns increased eightfold between 1841 and 1901. There was huge growth in the numbers of priests and Brothers as well as nuns, and the establishment of a comprehensive range of services in the fields of education, health and social services. Moreover, there was even surplus capacity, so that many of the Orders exported personnel and services to America, Canada and Australia.

2.17A related issue was the fear of each of the major religions of proselytisation by the other side. On either side, this was not an unreasonable fear: Catholics were moved by the fact that the last relic of Catholic subservience was not gone until 1829. The ‘established Church’ was Protestant, in particular Anglican, and Protestant institutions were more richly resourced. Thus, a major concern of the Catholic side, which persisted into the twentieth century, was to keep Catholic orphans from being taken into the ‘Birds-nests homes’ run by the Protestant orphan societies. On the other side, the immense potential of the Catholic Church as the church of the great majority of the people was evident. From the perspective of both sides, the schools allowed an opportunity to imbue children with religion and to present a caring image of the Church.10

2.18In response to these considerations, the main modification of the English model, contained in the Irish Industrial Schools Act of 1868, concerned safeguards to prevent any change in the religion of a child committed. Catholic and Protestant children had to be committed to separate schools. The control of the religious was also copperfastened by a provision that State funds could be used only for maintenance and not for capital expenditure to set up State schools; and that funding would be on a capitation basis. This avoided any suspicion of the Government favouring one denomination, which might have existed had payments been based on the institution as an entity. In addition, this met Catholic resistance to State ownership. From the perspective of the State, the cost would be less, and it was believed that schools conducted by voluntary management would retain an adaptable character, and that their pupils would have better opportunities for employment than those afforded by juvenile houses of correction under official management.


2.19A distinction that was observed in the financial regime of the schools was that recurring expenditure on food, staff equipment, etc was the responsibility of the State. This was funded by central and local government on a capitation basis,11 whereas capital expenditure was funded by the owners of the schools. This was an incentive to maximise numbers and not to spend money on capital items such as buildings, sports facilities or other benefits for the children.

2.20A check was imposed by the Treasury on the granting of new certificates between 1875 and 1879, in order to keep down its contribution. As a result of this policy, admissions were restricted. Moreover, several new schools were built, their founders being under the impression that they would be certified on completion, yet they failed to receive certificates immediately. One such school was built for Roman Catholic girls at Mallow. The building was erected in 1873, but certification of this School was refused for six years after its completion.12

2.21The Children Act, 1908 dropped the restriction on the use of public funds for capital expenditure but, in contrast to the position in England and subject to one or two exceptions, Irish local or, until the 1940s, central government did not use this power. Indeed, the reality is that Irish local authorities were often overdue in paying the contributions, even to maintenance, which they were legally obliged to make.

2.22The schools were founded either by the philanthropic donation of a premises and land by a concerned land owner, or the capital required to build the schools was raised by public subscription from a group of community-minded citizens, with the major impetus in collection and spending coming from the religious authorities. For instance, almost immediately after the legislation was enacted, the Dublin Catholic Reformatory Committee was established to meet this financial challenge.

2.23Another example was the Cork Reformatory Committee,13 set up by the Cork Society of the St Vincent de Paul in 1858. They purchased a 112-acre farm at Upton, 14 miles from Cork City, for use as a reformatory school, and they asked the Rosminian Order to take charge of it, as they had experience of operating reformatories in England. A building was completed on the site in 1860 at a cost of £5,000, and the lease of the lands and buildings was transferred to the Rosminians in 1872.14 This operated as St Patrick’s Reformatory School in Upton, County Cork until 1889 and, thereafter, as an industrial school.15

2.24In 1869, Lord Granard, the local landowner, invited the Sisters of Mercy to establish a school in Newtownforbes, County Longford. He gave the Sisters a house for use as a convent and gardens, rent free, and an annual cash donation of £90.16 In the same year, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Industrial School, Newtownforbes, was certified for the reception of 145 girls.

2.25One of the legacies of this piece-meal way of establishing the schools was that there was an uneven geographical distribution of schools throughout Ireland, which had a considerable impact on whether children were likely to end up in an industrial school.

‘Industrial’ training

2.26The principal virtue claimed for the schools, by the utilitarian thinkers who championed them, was that they would equip the residents with skills, which would enable them in later life to survive by steady, if humble, employment. In the nineteenth century, this was accomplished in the case of girls. According to Ó Cinnéide and Maguire:17

Girls’ schools provided a narrower range of industrial training than boys schools, focusing on domestic service, laundry, and sewing. The majority of girls who left industrial schools went into domestic service. Indeed the schools were a vital source of domestic servants, particularly because the schools were among the few institutions that provided a coherent training program for domestic servants. Some schools, including High Park and St. George’s in Limerick, were particularly noted for their training program, and girls from these schools had no trouble securing work as servants. Goldenbridge Industrial School was also an important source of trained domestic servants. Mona Hearne, author of Below Stairs, shows that of the 877 girls discharged from Goldenbridge between 1880 and 1920, over 300 were placed in service; the nuns kept in touch with these girls for at least three years after discharge, and only rarely were bad reports received.

2.27As to the boys’ schools, they commented:

the [Samuelson Commission’s]18 remit was to examine industrial and technical training in all schools, including industrial schools, throughout the United Kingdom … The Commission’s report was extremely critical of the general standard of training in Irish schools generally; the one exception was Irish industrial schools, which they found to be models of technical and industrial training.19

2.28Barnes acknowledged that some schools did in fact excel in providing children with the skills and training which enabled them to support themselves once they were discharged. She took the view that, in the early years of the system’s existence, there was some tension between providing industrial training to ameliorate poverty, and the general feeling that industrial training should not facilitate upward social mobility.20

2.29Barnes claimed that only a small percentage of boys entered trades for which they had been trained, and that the majority ended up working as unskilled labourers, mainly on farms. However, this could be the result of the general lack of opportunities for poor people in Ireland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.21

2.30Barnes and most other writers give a largely favourable impression of the nineteenth century industrial schools system. On the other hand, John Fagan, who was appointed Inspector of Reformatory and Industrial Schools in 1897, criticised virtually all aspects of the system at the end of the nineteenth century, especially the physical conditions in the schools and the overall condition of the children. He was particularly critical of the poor hygiene and lack of cleanliness in the majority of the schools.22 Ó Cinnéide and Maguire summarise Fagan’s criticisms, and comment:23

conditions in many of the schools seem to have deteriorated around the turn of the century, in what Barnes termed a spirit of “complacency and a resistance to change”.

1 This historical overview has drawn extensively on the research provided to the Commission by Professor David Gwynn Morgan, Dr Eoin O’Sullivan; Professor Séamus O’Cinnéide; Dr Moira Maguire (who along with Professor O’Cinnéide compiled reports to the Sisters of Mercy); Professor Dermot Keogh (who wrote a report for the Presentation Brothers on Greenmount) and Ms Sheila Lunney (who wrote an MA thesis entitled Institutional Solution to a Social Problem: Industrial Schools in Ireland and the Sisters of Mercy 1869 to 1950).

2 The idea of ‘ragged schools’ was developed in 1818 by John Pounds, a shoemaker. He began teaching poor children without charging fees.

3 For example, Royal Commission (Nassau, 1832) to review the working of the Act for the Relief of the Poor, 1601 in England (1832); Royal Commission for Ireland under Archbishop Whately of Dublin (1833–36) to inquire into the conditions of the poor and to ameliorate them; others according to Caul 12, in 1804, 1819, 1823 and 1830. Mary Carpenter’s seminal work, Reformatory Schools for the children of the perishing and dangerous classes and for juvenile offenders (1851) was among the causes of the Commission of Inquiry into Criminal and Destitute Children [HC 1852–53], before which Mary Carpenter was the principal witness.

4 In Britain, the schools were established by way of the Reformatory Schools (Youthful Offenders) Act, 1857 and the Industrial Schools Act, 1854, though the latter applied only to Scotland. The legislation was consolidated in 1866.

5 A liberal Catholic described by Cardinal Cullen as ‘the only good man’ in Parliament; and a member of the House of Commons Select Committee of 1861, which studied the problems of educating the destitute. Neilson Hancock, a statistician and social campaigner, was able to show that, although the juvenile crime rate in Ireland was half that of Britain, this proportion was reversed with regard to vagrants under 16 years of age; for Ireland had almost double the British rate of juvenile vagrants. These statistics provided The O’Connor Don with the intellectual ammunition to argue his case for the extension of industrial schools to Ireland.

6 The Aberdare Commission of Enquiry into Reformatory and Industrial Schools 1884, which dealt with the British and Irish systems separately, warmly endorsed the schools. Partly as a result of this, there was a considerable expansion in industrial schools in the 1880s and 1890s. See Jane Barnes, Irish Industrial Schools, 1868–1908 (Irish Academic Press, 1989), p 64. The Cussen Report 1934–1936 credits the early spread of the schools to a speech by the Lord High Chancellor of Ireland, Lord O’Hagan, to the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland (of which he was president), in which he drew attention to the advantages to the social order which would follow on the establishment of the industrial schools: JSSIS Part XXXIX, 1870, 225.

7 By 1908, for Ireland alone, the legislation comprised: the Industrial Schools Act, 1868, the Industrial Schools Acts Amendment Act 1880, the Industrial Schools (Ireland) Act, 1885 and the Industrial School Acts Amendment Act, 1894, and the Reformatory Schools (lreland) Act, 1858. Other minor amending Acts were passed in 1893, 1899 and 1901. The 1908 Act substituted the Chief Secretary for Ireland in place of the Home Secretary.

8 However, there were two significant improvements in the Act which never received a fair trial in Ireland: day industrial schools, and release on licence. Questioning the advantages of institutional life and perceiving the value of keeping a child in a family environment (unless this was wholly evil) in the late nineteenth century, the Philanthropic Reform Association proposed the establishment of day industrial schools: Jane Barnes, Irish Industrial Schools, 1868–1908 (Irish Academic Press 1989), pp 85–86.

9 Jane Barnes, Irish Industrial Schools, 1868–1908 (Irish Academic Press, 1989), pp 85–86.

10 Bríd Fahey Bates, The Institute of Charity: Rosminians, Their Irish Story 1860–2003 (Dublin: Ashfield Publishing Press, 2003), pp 68–69.

11 The Children Act, 1908, ss 73–75. In the nineteenth century, most of the recurring expense fell on central government [the Treasury paid 5s/week for each child]. Local authorities’ contribution ranged from 1 shilling to 2/6. Voluntary contributions were very small. The result was that, for example, in 1880: the contributions were as follows: treasury (£68,000); local authorities (£23,000); other sources (parental contributions, voluntary subscriptions and industrial profits): £16,000.

12 Barnes, p 50.

13 Bríd Fahey Bates, p 72.

14 Bríd Fahey Bates, p 71.

15 Bríd Fahey Bates, p 79.

16 Taken from: The Parish of Clonguish: Its People and its Culture (December 2005), p 15.

17 Séamus Ó Cinnéide and Moira Maguire, The Industrial Schools Over A Hundred Years: A Monograph, p 20

18 This was a Commission established by the British Parliament to examine industrial and technical training in all schools throughout the UK. It reported in 1884.

19 Séamus Ó Cinnéide and Moira Maguire, p 19.

20 Séamus Ó Cinnéide and Moira Maguire, p 19, p 20.

21 Séamus Ó Cinnéide and Moira Maguire, p 20.

22 Séamus Ó Cinnéide and Moira Maguire, p 21.

23 Séamus Ó Cinnéide and Moira Maguire, p 21.

Chapter 3


3.01Over the period from 1936 to 1970, a total of 170,000 children and young persons (involving about 1.2% of the age cohort) entered the gates of the 50 or so industrial schools.1 The period for which they stayed varied widely, depending on the ground of entry; but the average was more than seven years.

3.02The result was that, although the population of the schools at any particular time fluctuated widely, it remained above 6,000 from 1936 to 1952, peaking at 6,800 in 1946 partly as a result of the wartime emergency conditions. Thereafter, the improving economic conditions of the 1950s, and even more so in the 1960s, meant that the population in the schools fell steadily to 4,300 in 1960 and 1,740 in 1970. This amounted to an average reduction, over the period from 1950 to 1970, of 250 per year.

3.03Although the balance varied from decade to decade, the great majority of children were committed because they were ‘needy’. The next most frequent grounds of entry were involvement in a criminal offence or school non-attendance. Each of these grounds involved committal by the District Court. The remaining two grounds, which over the entire period from 1936 to 1970 were less frequently used, were being sent by a Health Authority and voluntary entry.

3.04The figures for reformatory residents were much smaller than those for industrial schools. There were only three reformatories, and their populations (most of whom were offenders) fluctuated between 100 and 250. Although the average length of stay was one year, this meant that, in the period from 1936 to 1970, a total of approximately 2,000 to 3,000 children and young persons spent time in a reformatory.

‘Needy’ children

3.05For the entire period under consideration, the governing law was section 58(1) of the Children Act, 1908 (as amended by the Children Acts, 1929 and 1941). A child could be committed to an industrial school if he or she, inter alia:

  1. was found begging or receiving alms;
  2. was found not having any home, or visible means of subsistence, or was [found] having no parent or guardian, or a parent or guardian who did not exercise proper guardianship; or
  3. was found destitute, not being an orphan and having both parents or his surviving parent, or in the case of an illegitimate child, his mother, undergoing penal servitude or imprisonment; or
  4. was under the care of a parent or guardian who, by reason of reputed criminal or drunken habits, was unfit to have the care of the child; or
  5. was the daughter … of a father who had been convicted of an offence of [sexually abusing his daughters]; or
  6. frequented the company of any reputed thief or of any common or reputed prostitute (other than the child’s mother); or
  7. was lodging or residing in a house used for prostitution.

3.06Section 58(4) of the 1908 Act stated:

Where the parent or guardian of a child proves to a [District Court] that he is unable to control the child, and that he desires the child to be sent to an industrial school … the court, if satisfied on inquiry that it is expedient so to deal with the child, and that the parent or guardian understands the results which will follow, may order him to be sent to a certified industrial school.

3.07Subsequent legislation expanded the 1908 Act in two main respects. In order to come within the ‘destitute’ category, a child’s parents had, under the 1908 Act, to be in prison or be deceased. The Children Act, 19292 in effect widened this category by providing that a child could be committed if its parents were unable to support it, in circumstances where both parents consented, or the court was satisfied that a parent’s consent could be dispensed with owing to mental incapacity or desertion.3

3.08Yet, the precise scope of these legislative categories probably did not make a significant difference in the numbers of children committed. Whatever the basis of the committal, these children all came under the category of ‘needy’, and the majority of them were as a result of poverty, but some were committed because of other social circumstances such as illegitimacy.


3.09The second largest category of those committed were children or young persons who had been involved in an offence. Section 57 of the Children Act, 1908 as amended by section 9 of the Children Act, 1941 governed the law relating to young offenders. The first issue was on what basis it was decided to send a young offender to a reformatory rather than an industrial school. The main ground was age, although the seriousness of the offence was also a factor. The practice can be best explained in this area by considering the cases in three categories, according to age:

  1. A child under the age of 12 could not be sent to a reformatory school, only to an industrial school; and, indeed, the records show relatively few children below the age of 12 being committed for offences, even to an industrial school.
  2. A child of (after 1941) 12, 13 or 14 could be sent to an industrial school provided that: the child was a first offender; there were ‘special circumstances’ as to why the child should not be sent to a reformatory; and the child would not ‘exercise an evil influence over the other children’.4 In fact, despite these conditions, children under 15 years were usually sent to industrial schools.
  3. It was not open to the court, under the Act, to send the offender aged (after 1941) 15 years and upwards to an industrial school.5 Thus, if a custodial sanction were to be selected, the only option was the reformatory.

3.10Into category 2 above came girls who were regarded as having been ‘morally corrupted’. In 1944,6 St Anne’s Reformatory School in Kilmacud was established to accommodate girls who were considered a risk to other children because of sexual experiences. As can be seen in the chapter on St Joseph’s Industrial School, Kilkenny,7 girls as young as eight who had been raped or abused, or even those children in contact with such girls, were considered unsuitable for an ordinary industrial school and were sent to St Anne’s Reformatory School. Unlike boys, girls who were sent to reformatories were usually sent until their sixteenth birthday.

3.11The reformatory school was reserved for the tougher type of boy, who became eligible for committal between the ages of 12 and 17 years. After the Children Act, 1941 took effect, the legal period of detention was between two and four years.8 However, the period of actual detention for boys was often no more than one year, provided that the offender’s behaviour and home circumstances were satisfactory. Before 1941, the equivalent period of detention was between three and five years.9

3.12By contrast, boys committed to industrial schools were invariably sent until they were 16 years old.

3.13The practice was that offenders were committed to a reformatory only following a straightforward conviction, whereas those sent to an industrial school were sent when charged ‘with an offence punishable in the case of an adult by penal servitude or a less punishment, and the court is satisfied that the child should be sent to a certified school’,10 with no conviction being recorded.11

3.14Between 1923 and 1943, the most common offence for which juvenile males were sent to reformatories was larceny; subsequently, house-breaking overtook larceny in the share of the committals.12

3.15The position was complicated by the fact that several ways of treating the offender were open to the District Court. Committals to a reformatory or industrial school were just two among several possible sanctions within the range of sanctions that were available, irrespective of the particular offence committed13 since, in the case of young offenders, the law was more concerned with the offender than the offence.

3.16A detailed statistical analysis of the use of alternatives to committal shows that, between 1948 and 1957, out of 21,000 charges against juvenile offenders, only 701 or 4.5% of those against whom a ‘charge was proved but no order made’ were committed to an industrial school, whilst 916 or 18% of those convicted were sent to a reformatory school.

3.17The conclusion that may be drawn is that, in general, many District Justices did exercise some care and discrimination before they sent an offender to a school. The question of whether the two most viable alternatives, probation and a ‘fit person’ order,14 were under-utilised is discussed below.

Non-attendance at school

3.18For the period under review, the governing statute was the School Attendance Act, 1926. This Act15 made it an offence for a parent to fail to send to school any child below the age of 14 years, it became 15 years after 1972.16 More significantly, if the parent was convicted of a second offence within three months of conviction for the first, the court could ‘if it thinks fit’ either send the child to an industrial school or make a ‘fit person’ order. The thinking seems to have been that this would be a way of ensuring an education for such children.

3.19The annual number of prosecutions of parents ranged between 6,000 and 7,000 for most of the 1930s. This figure peaked in the early 1940s, and reached just below 13,000 in 1944. Subsequently, the numbers fell to the level of the 1930s, before beginning a steep decline in the early 1950s.

3.20Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Dun Laoghaire had dedicated full-time School Attendance Officers (SAO). Outside these centres of population, however, the SAO was a local Garda who took on this duty, as one among his many tasks. This was undoubtedly one of the reasons why so many children committed under this heading came from urban centres, as can be seen from the statistical analysis below.

3.21It seems reasonable to infer from the figures, for both the nation as a whole and Dublin, that the children committed under the 1926 Act were not the victims of a policy of pouncing on a few arbitrarily chosen children. Rather, there was a process with some flexibility and with intermediate stages before the point of committal was reached. Yet, while not arbitrary, the system was severe and far-reaching: from visits to parents to formal warnings, through prosecution of parents, to eventual committal. A striking point of contrast appeared from Table IV of the Tuairim Report, showing that those admitted to approved schools (equivalent of industrial schools or reformatories) in England in 1964 for ‘truancy’ numbered 45, compared with 66 in the same year in Ireland, although England had 16 times the relevant age cohort.

3.22Committal to an industrial school was most extreme in the case of non-attendance at school. Neediness could have complicated causes that were hard to resolve. It could be argued that there needed to be some sanction for juveniles who offended. However, non-attendance at school was not so heinous that it called for sanction of such severity. The enormity of committing a child for several years, simply for failure to attend school, began to be appreciated more as time went on.

3.23A major issue was the fact that it was a court which was selected as the agency through which children and young persons were directed to a reformatory or an industrial school. Historically, the reason for this seems to have been the simple, human rights point that, given the significant deprivation of liberty involved, it would have been inappropriate if this important decision had been vested in, for example, a local health authority. However, the court was known to the residents themselves, and everyone else, principally as a place in which minor criminal offences were tried. The inevitable result was that those committed were unfairly stigmatised as criminals whereas, in fact, their only ‘crime’ was poverty. The fundamental unfairness of this was raised consistently by witnesses before the Commission.

3.24In addition, most of the usual safeguards which are the hallmark of the adult criminal justice system were denied to those whom a court was considering sending to an industrial school. There was next to no legal representation, and the facts relied on by the Garda/ISPCC Inspector/SAO were seldom contested, so that the issue of whether they had to be proved beyond reasonable doubt scarcely arose. Although there was an appeal process, it was seldom used.

3.25Although some ex-staff members stated that they did not like this method of committal, there is considerable evidence, both from documents and oral testimony, that children committed to these schools were seen as being criminals by staff, and that a lot of the mistreatment experienced by the children emanated from this perception. Staff recalled that even very young children remembered appearing in court and talked about it among themselves. The general view was that committal through the courts was logical only if the schools were regarded as places of detention. In England, the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933 had established a radical distinction. It confined the courts’ involvement with children or juveniles to those who were accused of an offence.

3.26The Courts of Justice Act, 1924 made provision for the setting-up of Children’s Courts in separate buildings, in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford. However, only one such court came into being, in Dublin:17 the Dublin Metropolitan Children’s Court, which was established in 1923.

3.27The case for committal of a child was presented to the court by an Inspector of the ISPCC, who was also colloquially known as the ‘cruelty man’, or less often by the Catholic Protection and Rescue Society, or by an SAO or a Garda (depending on which ground was being relied upon).

3.28The main factor shaping the procedure was that the child was almost always unrepresented. A parent (or guardian) was required by law to be present, and the mother frequently appeared before the court. The parent was usually uneducated and, in an age of deference, dominated by the circumstances of the proceedings. They were unlikely to be able to make the best of any case against committal. As regards facts, the evidence of the ISPCC Inspector or the SAO was seldom contested.

3.29The schools deplored the reluctance of District Justices to make committals or, alternatively, to do so before an offender had committed so many crimes that a school would have no rehabilitative effect on him. In the 1960s, they complained, too, that committals were for too short a period for any good to be done. There were fundamentally different understandings of the objectives and potentials of the school. Some District Justices seem to have disapproved of the schools as places of ‘containment’, to which children were to be sent only as a last resort. By contrast, the schools themselves, or at least the managers speaking in public, would claim that the schools were primarily educational not penal institutions, which could be successful in educating a child and saving him or her from a life of crime or misery. The Managers18 claimed, too, that the District Justices’ view had the potential to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, since it meant that only ‘incorrigibles’ would be sent to the schools.

3.30The number of adjournments which were granted before the committal was actually made suggested a judicial reluctance to commit.

3.31Of equal importance with the numbers involved was the length of time for which each child was committed.

3.32For reformatories, the ‘period of detention’ was laid down as not less than two, or more than four, years,19 or in any case not beyond the age of 19.20 In practice, the period of actual detention was usually about one year, provided that the offender’s behaviour and home circumstances were satisfactory.21

3.33The position in regard to industrial schools was more complicated. As regards the children committed by the courts, the almost invariable practice was to commit until the age of 16. The legislation22 appeared to allow the court some discretion in committing children. Nevertheless, up to the 1960s in the thousands of cases which have been checked, in both the Dublin County Borough and provincial courts, the District Justice always made the order apply right up to the time when the child would be 16 years.

3.34Given that committal was until 16 years, the length of time for which any child or young person was committed by a court depended on their age at the time of committal. It is significant that those children who were committed for being ‘needy’ were often committed at very tender years. Thus, they had to reside for many years in both a junior industrial school and senior industrial school.

3.35The net result was striking. In the case of a reformatory school, an offender was sent away usually for about one year (which was in line with a normal criminal sanction). By contrast, for committal to an industrial school, the age of release was fixed at 16 years, and the length of the committal period varied depending on the age of the child at the date of committal. The justification offered for this anomaly was that committal was seen not as a punishment but as a period for which the child or young person needed protection (or education), until they were old enough to fend for themselves. In any case, the reality comes through in the following Dáil exchange:

Deputy Dillon: “May I bespeak the good offices of the Minister with special reference to this category of children so that they will not be left permanently in industrial schools …?”.

J Lynch: “… the word ‘permanently’ might create a wrong impression. They would all be entitled to be released at 14 years of age. For the purposes of childhood, that is surely permanently”. (DD: vol 166, col 779)

3.36These figures varied slightly from decade to decade; however, the average committal period for the period from 1951 to 1960 was:

  • ‘needy’: 8.8 years
  • school non-attendance: 4.2 years
  • offences: 4.1 years.

3.37Children were occasionally removed from school by their parents without the consent of the Minister for Education or the school. For example, some just failed to return from holidays; some parents removed their children from the jurisdiction; and some absconded.

3.38However, more official removals could be made by the exercise of the Minister’s discretion to order early discharge, usually because there had been a change in family circumstances or where a parent made a complaint about abuse.

3.39A parent or guardian of a child detained in an industrial school had the right to apply to the Minister for Education for the release of the child.23 The relevant legislation was, in the first place, section 69(3) of the 1908 Act, which gave the Minister discretion to release any child or young person committed. Following the constitutional challenge in the Doyle case,24 the law was amended by the Children (Amendment) Act, 1957 which made the exercise of this discretion mandatory where the circumstances that had given rise to the committal order had ceased and were not likely to recur; and, further, where the parents were able to support the child. This change did not apply to offenders or those committed for non-attendance at school.

3.40This trend in favour of early discharge was intensified following the Kennedy Report in 1970, which stated:

The whole aim of the Child Care system should be geared towards the prevention of family break-down and the problems consequent on it. The committal or admission of children to Residential Care should be considered only when there is no satisfactory alternative.25

3.41One of the most influential of the persons consulted, though his authority did not always carry the day, was the Manager of the relevant school. Their counsel was usually against early discharge: no case of the school authorities taking the initiative to secure a release has been found in the documents. Leaving aside any financial disincentive, the Resident Manager would probably have considered that the best option for a child was staying in the School and would have been inherently unlikely to draw back and determine dispassionately that any child would be better off elsewhere.

3.42The average percentage of applications for early discharge, as compared with the average percentage population in the schools, was 6.1%. Of these applications, an average of 72% succeeded. This was a fairly small number of applications, and may suggest that the system of early release was not well known.

3.43Throughout the 1950s, the number of successful applications increased. This trend was in line with the general improvement in economic and social conditions in the country over the course of the decade. There were, however, notable exceptions: Artane and Letterfrack for boys, and Goldenbridge for girls, stand out in terms of the high percentage of refusals.

3.44The figures for reformatories differ: St Conleth’s, Daingean, as the only reformatory school for boys, had, by its remit, different criteria in relation to the release and discharge of the children, not least because young offenders were committed by the courts for a relatively short period, compared to other categories of offender, so the vast majority of applications were turned down. Thus, there were relatively few applications, even compared to the population in the School. Furthermore, the success rate, at an average of 24%, was much lower than for industrial schools.

3.45The process had to be initiated by the parents, who would often have been uninformed as to how to do this. What is missing is any reference to residents whose parents or guardians never applied for early discharge in the first place or who had no parents to apply. This meant that children without parents or guardians to apply had no chance of being released. The documents do not contain any reference to release being considered for such children. There was no official agency charged with the duty of reviewing each case, either periodically or where there were signs of a change in the child or in family circumstances. This was a serious and fundamental flaw in the system.

3.46As mentioned, there were three paths to the schools, of which the first was committal via the District Court, and was by far the most frequently used and has already been covered. At the time of the Kennedy Report, there were 97 (or 4%) of the industrial school population in the voluntary category, with 80% and 16% in the court and health authority categories respectively. However, in an earlier period, when those committed by the court would have been more numerous, children maintained voluntarily were even less significant. For the period 1949 to 1969, the average ‘voluntary’ population figure was 101 or 2.2% of the entire schools’ population.

3.47The remaining major category was children placed in certified industrial schools by the health authorities. As with children placed voluntarily and directly in the schools, by parents or guardians, such children entered without the involvement of a court and could be withdrawn without legal formality;26 if and when family circumstances permitted.

3.48Until it was repealed in 1991, the statutory authority of a health authority or board to place a child in an industrial school was section 55 of the Health Act, 1953 (or its precursors). By this provision, a health authority was empowered to provide for the assistance of a child by boarding the child out, by sending him to an industrial school approved by the Minister for Health or, where the child was not less than 14 years of age, by arranging for his employment.27

3.49These powers applied only to two rather narrow categories of child. In addition to a means test, the child had to be either an orphan or had to have been deserted by his parents or parent; and, in the case of an illegitimate child, whose mother was dead or was deserted by the mother, or the parent/guardian had to consent.28

3.50The Cussen Report in 1936 took the view that local authorities/health authorities:

as a whole [they] would appear not to have sufficiently appreciated their responsibilities under law in regard either to the schools or the children, and the evidence which we have adduced indicates that they still display little interest in the work of the schools beyond the payment of a weekly capitation grant …

3.51In the early 1950s, the number of children sent to the schools by boards of health increased for such reasons as the need to find somewhere to house children who would earlier have lived in county homes. Whatever the causes, a pattern developed in the late 1940s by which health authorities sought to put children in industrial schools, despite the preference of the Department of Health for boarding out (this tension between the two authorities is discussed in Eoin O’Sullivan’s chapter).

3.52Accordingly, the health authorities encouraged existing industrial schools to apply to the Department of Health for the necessary certification to enable them to receive health authority referrals.

3.53Equally, because of the falling numbers of residents being committed by the courts, schools were actively looking for children, and made the health authorities aware of this.

3.54Little seems to have changed during the quarter of a century up to 1970, when the health boards were established, and they increasingly employed social workers to work with children in care and their families. The social workers saw it as their duty to try to avoid breaking up the family, unless there was no alternative. Where there was no alternative, then fostering was the preferred option.

1 Section 44 of the Children Act, 1908 (as amended by section 6 of the Children Act, 1941) defines ‘child’ as one under the age of 15 (originally 14); and a ‘young person’ as one between the ages of 15 and 17 (originally 14 and 16). This is pursuant to section 57(1) of the Children Act, 1908 as amended by section 9 of the Children Act, 1941. The umbrella term ‘young offenders’ comprehends any offenders between the ages of seven and 21 years.

2 Later re-enacted in section 10(1)(d) of the Children Act, 1941.

3 The full wording of section 10(1)(e) of the 1941 Act was as follows:
‘Provided also that the Court shall not make an order that a child be sent to a certified industrial school on the grounds stated in paragraph (h) unless—
(i) the child’s parents consent or his surviving parent or, in the case of an illegitimate child, his mother consents to such order being made, or
(ii) the Court is satisfied that owing to mental incapacity or desertion on the part of the child’s parents or his surviving parent or, in the case of an illegitimate child, his mother, the consent of such parents or parent may be dispensed with, or
(iii) one of the child’s parents consents to such order being made and the Court being satisfied that, owing to mental incapacity or desertion on the part of the other parent or to the fact that the other parent is undergoing imprisonment or penal servitude, the consent of that parent may be dispensed with’.

4 Section 58(3) of the Children Act, 1908 as amended by section 10(2) of the Children Act, 1941.

5 Section 57(2) of the Children Act, 1908 as amended by section 9(2) of the Children Act, 1941.

6 Kennedy Report, p 1.

7 See chapter on St Joseph’s, Kilkenny.

8 Section 65(a) of the Children Act, 1908 as amended by section 11(1) of the Children Act, 1941.

9 Section 65(a) of the Children Act, 1908.

10 Section 58(3) of the Children Act, 1908.

11 See sections 57 and 58(3) of the Children Act, 1908.

12 Annual Figures for the JLO for 1968–2003 are given in O’Donnell, O’Sullivan and Healy (eds), Crime and Punishment in Ireland 1922 to 2003: A statistical Sourcebook (IPA, 2005), Table 5.3.

13 What follows is a paraphrase of section 107 of the 1908 Act where the available sanctions are summarised. Section 107 states:
‘Where a child or young person charged with any offence is tried by any court, and the court is satisfied of his guilt, the court shall take into consideration the manner in which, under the provisions of this or any other Act enabling the court to deal with the case, the case should be dealt with, namely, whether—
(a) by dismissing the charge; or
(b) by discharging the offender on his entering into a recongizance; or
(c) by so discharging the offender and placing him under the supervision of a probation officer; or
(d) by committing the offender to the care of a relative or other fit person; or
(e) by sending the offender to an industrial school; or
(f) by sending the offender to a reformatory school; or
(g) by ordering the offender to be whipped; or
(h) by ordering the offender to pay a fine, damages, or costs; or
(i) by ordering the parent or guardian of the offender to pay a fine, damages, or costs; or
(j) by ordering the parent or guardian of the offender to give security for his good behaviour …’.

14 Section 17(4)(a) and (b) of the School Attendance Act, 1926.

15 Section 17 of the School Attendance Act, 1926 states:
‘(1) Whenever a parent fails or neglects to cause his child to whom this Act applies to attend school in accordance with this Act and, so far as is known to the enforcing authority of the school attendance area in which the child resides, there is no reasonable excuse for such failure or neglect, such enforcing authority shall serve on such parent a warning in the prescribed form …
(2) If a parent does not comply with a warning duly served on him under this section, he shall, unless he satisfies the Court that he has used all reasonable efforts to cause the child to attend school in accordance with the Act, be guilty of an offence under this section …
(4) If in any proceedings against a parent under this section the parent satisfies the court that he has used all reasonable efforts to cause the child to whom the proceedings relate to attend school in accordance with this Act or the parent is convicted of a second or subsequent offence under this section in respect of the same child, the court if it thinks fit may—
(a) order the child to be sent to a certified industrial school …’.

16 SI 105/1972: School Attendance Act, 1926 (Extension of Application) Order, 1972 raised the school leaving age from 14 to 15.

17 Section 80 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924.

18 ‘Managers’ was the term used under the 1908 Act. This later became more commonly referred to as ‘resident manager’.

19 Section 65(a) of the Children Act, 1908 as amended by section 11(1) of the Children Act, 1941.

20 Originally (under the 1908 Act) this was three to five years. However, the 1941 Act reduced this period from two to four years. It also raised the upper age limit of committal to a reformatory from 16 to 17 years, and reduced the period of detention, after which managers could release on licence, from 18 to six months.

21 In The Irish Press 27th June 1967, Joseph O’Malley gives the eventual average length of stay in Daingean Reformatory as about 15 months.

22 Section 65(b) of the Children Act, 1908 states:
‘The detention order shall specify the time for which the youthful offender or child is to be detained in the school, being— … in the case of a child sent to an industrial school, such time as to the court may seem proper for the teaching and training of the child, but not in any case extending beyond the time when the child will, in the opinion of the court, attain the age of sixteen years’.

23 Section 69(1) of the Children Act, 1908 states:
‘The [Minister] may at any time order a youthful offender or a child to be discharged from a certified school, either absolutely or on such conditions as the [Minister] approves …’.
Section 5 of the Children (Amendment) Act, 1957, which superseded the 1908 Act provision, in the case of children committed under [section 58 of 1908 Act], stated:
‘(1) Where—
(a) a child has been committed to an industrial school under section 58 of the Principal Act, and
(b) an application is made to the Minister for Education by a parent or guardian for the release of the child, and
(c) the Minister is satisfied that the circumstances which led to the making of the committal order have ceased and are not likely to recur if the child is released, and that the parent or guardian is able to support the child, the Minister shall order the discharge of the child.
(2) The Minister may, if he so thinks proper, refer the application to the court.
(3) If the Minister refuses the application, the parent or guardian may refer it to the court.
(4) The court, if satisfied in regard to the matters referred to in paragraph (c) of subsection (1), shall have jurisdiction to order the discharge of the child.
(5) A reference to the court under this section shall be made to the District Court in the District in which the committal order was made or, if the applicant resides in another District, in that District.
(6) The order for the discharge of the child, whether made by the Minister or the court, shall operate to revoke the detention order.
(7) (a) Where the District Court or, on appeal, the Circuit Court, orders the discharge of a child, the court may award costs and expenses to the successful applicant …’.
This provision was introduced in response to the Doyle case discussed at Appendix, para (iii).

24 Doyle v Minister for Education. The case was decided in 1956 but not reported until 1989 at [1989] ILRM 277. The Supreme Court decided that, because of the wording of Article 42.1 of the Constitution, the right of parents to raise their children was inalienable and could not be transferred to the State, even with the consent of parents.

25 Kennedy Report, p 6.

26 Section 56 (2) of the Health Act, 1953 states that:
‘Where a health authority have sent a child to a school approved of by the Minister, the authority—
(a) may at any time, with the consent of the Minister, remove the child from the school, and
(b) shall remove the child from the school if and when required so to do by the Minister or by the managers of the school, or upon the school ceasing to be approved of by the Minister’.

27 Section 55(1) of the Health Act, 1953.

28 Section 55(1) and (2) of the Health Act, 1953.

Chapter 4
What the schools were required to do

4.01The Children Act, 1908 described in very broad terms the functions of industrial schools and reformatories. The duties and responsibilities of owners and managers of these schools were set out in the Rules and Regulations for the Certified Industrial Schools in Saorstát Éireann which were approved by the then Minister for Education in 1933.

4.02The 1933 Rules are set out in full as follows:





Approved by the Minister for Education, under the 54th

Section of the Act, 8 Edw. VII., Ch. 67.


Date of Certificate.               

Number for which Certified….Accommodation is provided in this School for only       children. This number shall not be exceeded at any one time. No child under the age of six years is chargeable to the State Grant, and of the children of the age of six years and upwards not more than       are chargeable to that Grant.



Being [Roman Catholic Girls/ Boys] sent under the provisions of the Children Act, 1908, or the School Attendance Act, 1926, or the Children Act, 1929, or otherwise as the Management may determine.


The children lodged in the School shall have separate beds. Every decision to board out a Child, under the 53rd Section of the Children Act, 1908, shall have received previous sanction from the Minister for Education, through the Inspector of Industrial Schools.


The children shall be supplied with neat, comfortable clothing in good repair, suitable to the season of the year, not necessarily uniform either in material or colour.


The Children shall be supplied with plain wholesome food, according to a Scale of Dietary to be drawn up by the Medical Officer of the School and approved by the Inspector. Such food shall be suitable in every respect for growing children actively employed and supplemented in the case of delicate or physically under-developed children with special food as individual needs require. No substantial alterations in the Dietary shall be made without previous notice to the Inspector. A copy of the Dietary shall be given to the Cook and a further copy kept in the Manager’s Office.


Subject to Rule 8, all children shall be instructed in accordance with the programme prescribed for National Schools, Juniors (that is, children under 14 years of age) shall have for literary instruction and study not less than four and a half hours five days a week and Seniors (that is children of 14 years of age and upwards) shall have for the same purpose not less than three hours, five days a week; at least two-thirds of the periods mentioned to be at suitable hours between breakfast and dinner, when the most beneficial results are likely to be obtained. Religious Instruction may be included in those periods, and, in the case of Seniors, reasonable time may be allotted to approved general reading. Should the case of any individual pupil call for the modification of this Rule it is to be submitted to the Inspector for approval. Senior boys shall receive lessons in Manual Instruction which may be interpreted to mean training in the use of carpenter’s tools.


The Manager may arrange for children to attend conveniently situated schools, whether Primary, Continuation, Secondary or Technical, but always subject to (a) the sanction of the Inspector in each case, and (b) the condition that no increased cost is incurred by the State.


Industrial employment shall not exceed three and a half hours daily for Juniors or six hours daily for Seniors. The training shall, in the case of boys, be directed towards the acquisition of skill in and knowledge of farm and garden work or such handicraft as can be taught, due regard being given to fitting the boys for the most advantageous employment procurable. The training for girls shall in all cases be in accordance with the Domestic Economy Syllabus, and shall also include, where practicable, the milking of cows, care of poultry and cottage gardening.

Each school shall submit for approval by the Inspector a list setting forth the occupations which constitute the industrial training of the children and the qualifications of the Instructors employed to direct the work. Should additional subjects be added or any subject be withdrawn or suspended, notification shall be made to the Inspector without delay.


The progress of the children in the Literary Classes of the Schools and their proficiency in Industrial Training will be tested from time to time by Examination and Inspection.


Each day shall be begun and ended with Prayer. On Sundays and Holidays the Children shall attend Public Worship at some convenient Church or Chapel.


The Manager or his Deputy shall be authorised to punish the Children detained in the School in case of misconduct. All serious misconduct, and the Punishments inflicted for it, shall be entered in a book to be kept for that purpose, which, shall be laid before the Inspector when he visits. The Manager must, however, remember that the more closely the School is modelled on a principle of judicious family government the more salutary will be its discipline, and the fewer occasions will arise for resort to punishment.


Punishments shall consist of:—

  1. Forfeiture of rewards and privileges, or degradation from rank, previously attained by good conduct.
  2. Moderate childish punishment with the hand.
  3. Chastisement with the cane, strap or birch.

Referring to (c) personal chastisement may be inflicted by the Manager, or, in his presence, by an Officer specially authorised by him, and in no case may it be inflicted upon girls over 15 years of age. In the case of girls under 15, it shall not be inflicted except in cases of urgent necessity, each of which must be at once fully reported to the Inspector. Caning on the hand is forbidden.

No punishment not mentioned above shall be inflicted.


Seniors shall be allowed at least two hours daily, and Juniors at least three hours daily, for recreation and shall be taken out occasionally for exercise beyond the boundaries of the school, but shall be forbidden to pass the limits assigned to them without permission.

Games, both indoor and outdoor, shall be encouraged; the required equipment shall be provided; and supervision shall be exercised to secure that all children shall take part in the Games.

Fire Drill shall be held once at the least in every three months, and each alternate Drill shall take place at night after the children have retired to the dormitories. A record of the date and hour of each Drill shall be kept in the School Diary.


Parents, other Relations, or intimate Friends, shall be allowed to visit the children at convenient times, to be regulated by the Committee or Manager. Such privilege is liable to be forfeited by misconduct or interference with the discipline of the School by the Parents, Relatives, or Friends. The Manager is authorised to read all Letters which pass to or from the Children in the School, and to withhold any which are objectionable.

Subject to approval of the Inspector, holiday leave to parents or friends may be allowed to every well conducted child who has been under detention for at least one year, provided the home conditions are found on investigation to be satisfactory. Such leave shall be limited to seven days annually.

In a very special or urgent case, such as the serious illness or death of a parent, the Manager may also, at his discretion, if applied to, grant to any child such brief leave of absence as will enable the child to spend not more than one night at home: the circumstances to be reported forthwith to the Inspector’s Office.


Should the Manager of a School permit a Child, by Licence under the 67th Section of the Children Act of 1908, to live with a trustworthy and respectable person, or apprentice the Child to any trade or calling under the 70th Section of the Act, notice of such placing out on Licence, or apprenticeship of the Child, accompanied by a clear account of the conditions attaching thereto, shall be sent, without delay, to the Office of the Inspector.


Under the present financial arrangement no Child will be paid for out of the Funds voted by the Oireachtas until it has reached the age of Six Years. A Child, however, under the age of Six Years may be sent to the School under an Order of Detention signed by a District Justice; but in such case the State allowance for maintenance will not be made until it shall appear from the Order of Detention that the Child is Six Years old – from that date only will it be regularly paid for.


On the discharge of a Child from the School, at the expiration of the period of Detention, or when Apprenticed, he (or she) shall be provided, at the cost of the Institution, with a sufficient outfit, according to the circumstances of the discharge. Children when discharged shall be placed, as far as practicable, in some employment or service. If returned to relatives or friends, the travelling expenses shall be defrayed by the Manager, unless the relatives or friends are willing to do so. A Licence Form shall be issued in every case and the Manager shall maintain communication with discharged Children for the full period of supervision prescribed in Section 68(2) of the Children Act, 1908. The Manager shall recall from the home or from employment any child whose occupation or circumstances are unsatisfactory, and he shall in due course make more suitable disposal.


The School shall be open to Visitors at convenient times, to be regulated by the Committee (or Manager), and a Visitors’ Book shall be kept. The term “visitors” means members of the Public interested in the school.


A Time Table, showing the Hours of Rising, Work, School Instruction, Meals, Recreation, Retiring etc., shall be drawn up, shall be approved by the Inspector of Industrial Schools, and shall be fixed in the Schoolroom, and carefully adhered to on all occasions. All important deviations from it shall be recorded in the School Diary.

21. JOURNALS, etc.

The Manager (or Master or Matron) shall keep a Journal or Diary of everything important or exceptional that passes in the School. All admissions, discharges, licences and escapes shall be recorded therein, and all Record Books shall be laid before the Inspector when he visits the School.


I.A Medical Officer shall be appointed who shall visit the school periodically, a record of his visits being kept in a book to be provided for the purpose.

II.Each child shall be medically examined on admission to the School, and the M.O.’s. written report on the physical condition of the Child should be carefully preserved.

III.A record of all admissions to the School Infirmary shall be kept, giving information as to ailment, treatment, and dates of admission and discharge in each case. Infirmary cases of a serious nature and cases of more than three days duration shall be notified to the Inspector’s Office.

IV.The M.O. shall make a quarterly examination of each child individually, and give a quarterly report as to the fitness of the children for the training of the school, their general health, and the sanitary state of the school. The quarterly report shall be in such form as may be prescribed from time to time by the Minister for Education. Application shall be made to the Minister for the discharge of any child certified by the M.O. as medically unfit for detention.

V.Dental treatment and periodic visits by a Dentist shall be provided and records of such visits shall be kept.

In the event of the serious illness of any child, notice shall be sent to the nearest relatives or guardian and special visits allowed.


In the case of violent death, or of sudden death, not arising in the course of an illness while the child is under treatment by the M.O., a report of the circumstances shall be at once made to the local Gardaí for the information of the Coroner, a similar report being at the same time sent to the Inspector.

24. RETURNS, etc.

The Manager (or Secretary) shall keep a Register of admissions and discharges, with particulars of the parentage, previous circumstances, etc., of each Child admitted, and of the disposal of each Child discharged, and such information as may afterwards be obtained regarding him, and shall regularly send to the Office of the Inspector the Returns of Admission and Discharge, the Quarterly Accounts for their maintenance, and any other returns that may be required by the Inspector. All Orders of Detention shall be carefully kept amongst the Records of the School.


All Books and Journals of the School shall be open to the Inspector for examination. Any teacher employed in the school who does not hold recognised qualifications may be examined by the Inspector, if he thinks it necessary, and he shall be informed of the qualifications of new teachers on their appointment. Immediate notice shall be given to him of the appointment, death, resignation, or dismissal of the Manager and Members of the School Staff.


The Officers and Teachers of the School shall be careful to maintain discipline and order, and to attend to the instruction and training of the Children, in conformity with these Regulations. The Children shall be required to be respectful and obedient to all those entrusted with their management and training, and to comply with the regulations of the School.


Whenever a Child is sent to a Reformatory School, under the provisions of the 71st or 72nd Sections of the Children Act of 1908, the Manager shall, without delay, report the case to the Inspector.


In order to insure a strict and effectual observance of the provisions of the 66th Section of the Children Act of 1908, in every case in which a Child shall be ordered to be detained in a School managed by Persons of a different Religious Persuasion from that professed by the Parents, or surviving Parent, or (should that be unknown), by the Guardians or Guardian of such Child; (or should that be unknown) different from that in which the Child appears to have been baptized or (that not appearing), different from that professed by the Child the Manager or Teachers of such School shall, upon becoming acquainted with the fact, or having reason to believe that such is the fact, give notice in writing, without delay, to the Inspector, who will thereupon immediately take any necessary steps in the matter.


Should any Escape from the School occur, the Manager shall, with as little delay as possible, notify the particulars to the nearest Gardaí Station, to the Gardaí Superintendents of the County and adjoining Counties, and to the Inspector’s Office.

These Rules have been adopted by the Managers of                Industrial School.


Corresponding Manager


Approved under the 54th Section of the Children Act of 1908.


Minister for Education


Discipline in schools

4.03Discipline was an important issue in all the schools, and excessive corporal punishment for breaches of discipline was the most common complaint of former pupils. Unlike sexual abuse, which was in all circumstances wrong and unlawful, physical abuse arose, amongst other reasons, out of the then legal entitlement of school authorities to chastise pupils physically. It is important, therefore, to set out fully what the law was in relation to punishment, and to ensure that actions are judged by standards appropriate to their time.

4.04The basic law was set out in the Children Act, 1908 which recognised the existing common law right of a parent or teacher to punish a child. Section 37 provided:

Nothing in this Part of this Act shall be construed to take away or affect the right of any parent, teacher, or other person having the lawful control or charge of a child or young person to administer punishment to such child or young person.

4.05The common law position was that a teacher was entitled to punish a child if the child was of an age when he or she could appreciate the correction; when the punishment was both moderate and reasonable; when the implement used was fit for the purpose and not inappropriate. As to the amount of punishment, that varied with the age, sex and physical condition of the child.

4.06The Children Act, 1908 recognised the existing right to punish children but did not alter it. The Act brought together and consolidated the provisions relating to industrial schools and reformatory schools, and also authorised the making of rules and regulations for running such institutions. Pursuant to that statutory authority, rules and regulations were produced in a form that remained substantially unchanged during the lifetimes of the schools. The Manager of the School signed the certification form containing the rules and regulations and returned it to the Department. The result was that there was official acceptance by the School, through its Manager’s signature, of the rules and regulations contained in the certificate. This was the system that operated until the early 1930s.

4.07In 1933, instead of sending separate documents for signature to each school, the Minister embodied the rules in one standard form that was sent to the schools, and these rules are set out in full above. Although the precise form of the document changed over the years, from the late nineteenth century until 1933, when it crystallised into its final shape, the terms and conditions were essentially the same. The regulations governing the schools during the period of this Inquiry are those in the standardised form of 1933.

4.08The relevant sections of the 1933 Rules and Regulations relating to corporal punishment are set out again in full below.

Rules and regulations governing corporal punishment

4.09The 1933 Department of Education Rules and Regulations for Certified Industrial Schools were aimed at reducing corporal punishment to a minimum, and to controlling as far as possible such punishments as were inflicted.

4.10Regulation 13 stated:

Punishments shall consist of:—

  1. Forfeiture of rewards and privileges, or degradation from rank, previously attained by good conduct.
  2. Moderate childish punishment with the hand.
  3. Chastisement with the cane, strap or birch.

Referring to (c) personal chastisement may be inflicted by the Manager, or, in his presence, by an Officer specially authorised by him, and in no case may it be inflicted upon girls over 15 years of age. In the case of girls under 15, it shall not be inflicted except in cases of urgent necessity, each of which must be at once fully reported to the Inspector. Caning on the hand is forbidden.

No punishment not mentioned above shall be inflicted.

4.11This regulation was prefaced by a clause which counselled caution in its use. It said:

The Manager or his Deputy shall be authorised to punish the Children detained in the School in case of misconduct. All serious misconduct, and the Punishments inflicted for it, shall be entered in a book to be kept for that purpose, which shall be laid before the Inspector when he visits. The Manager must, however, remember that the more closely the School is modelled on a principle of judicious family government the more salutary will be its discipline, and the fewer occasions will arise for resort to punishment.1

Instructions in regard to the infliction of corporal punishment in national schools

4.12The 1946 Rules and Regulations for National Schools applied to the ‘education provision’2 within the industrial and reformatory schools. Regulation 96 of these Rules gave specific instructions for the use of corporal punishment in national schools. It stated:

  1. Corporal Punishment should be administered only for grave transgression. In no circumstances should corporal punishment be administered for mere failure at lessons.
  2. Only the principal teacher, or such other member of the staff as may be duly authorised by the manager for the purpose, should inflict corporal punishment.
  3. Only a light cane or rod may be used for the purpose of corporal punishment which should be inflicted only on the open hand. The boxing of children’s ears, the pulling of their hair or similar ill-treatment is absolutely forbidden and will be visited with severe penalties.
  4. No teacher should carry about a cane or other instrument of punishment.
  5. Frequent recourse to corporal punishment will be considered by the Minister as indicating bad tone and ineffective discipline.

4.13This regulation did not permit the use of the leather strap in the classroom.

4.14In November 1946, Circular No 11/1946, which was signed by Michael Ó Síochfhrada, the Department of Education Inspector, gave more detailed guidelines on the use of corporal punishment. It was directed to the Managers of all industrial schools. The title of the Circular was ‘Discipline and Punishment in Certified Schools’. It impressed upon Resident Managers their ‘personal responsibility to ensure that the official regulations’ on matters of discipline and punishment were ‘faithfully observed by all the members of the staffs of these schools’. The Circular stated that corporal punishment should only be used as a last resort, where other forms of punishment had been unsuccessful as a means of correction.

4.15The Circular went on to stipulate:

  • Corporal punishment ‘should be administered only for grave transgressions, and in no circumstances for mere failure at school lessons or industrial training’.
  • ‘Corporal punishment should in future be confined to the form usually employed in schools, viz slapping on the open palm with a light cane or strap’.
  • ‘This punishment should only be inflicted by the Resident Manager or by a member of the school staff specially authorised by him for the purpose’.
  • Any other form of corporal punishment which tends to humiliate a child or expose the child to ridicule before the other children is also forbidden. Such forms of punishment would include special clothing, cutting off a girl’s hair, and exceptional treatment at meals.

4.16The Circular attempted to marry the provisions of the 1933 Rules and Regulations for Certified Schools with the new 1946 Rules and Regulations for National Schools. In so doing, a certain amount of ambiguity arose with regard to the use of a leather strap, which was clearly not permitted in the classroom by the 1946 Rules and Regulations.

4.17In December 1946, Circular 15/46, signed by Michael Breathnach, Secretary of the Department of Education, and entitled ‘Circular to Managers and Teachers in regard to the infliction of Corporal Punishment in National Schools’ was sent to all national schools. It appears from this document that two additions were made to section 96(1) and (3) which did not appear when the original 1946 Rules and Regulations were circulated to the schools (these additions are identified by italics):

Rule 96(1): Corporal punishment should be administered only for grave transgression. In no circumstances should corporal punishment be administered for mere failure at lessons.

(3) Only a light cane or rod may be used for the purpose of corporal punishment which should be inflicted only on the open hand. The boxing of children’s ears, the pulling of their hair or similar ill-treatment is absolutely forbidden and will be visited with severe penalties.

4.18The Circular did not authorise the use of a leather strap as an implement of punishment in national schools.

4.19In 1956, a further Circular from the Department of Education, Circular 17/56 entitled ‘Circular to Managers and Teachers of National Schools in regard to Corporal Punishment’, was issued. This Circular was in response to publicity which had been given to the matter of corporal punishment in national schools, and was issued to re-affirm the Department’s policy with regard to corporal punishment and to give guidance to those ‘who may be disposed to contravene Rule 96 of the Code’. The Circular stated:

In re-issuing that rule, set out hereunder, opportunity is being taken to announce an amendment, printed in italics, of Section (3).

4.20The full Rule 96 was then set out, with the amendment to section (3) as follows:

(3) Only a light cane, rod or leather strap may be used for the purpose of corporal punishment which should be inflicted only on the open hand. The boxing of children’s ears, the pulling of their hair or similar ill-treatment is absolutely forbidden and will be visited with severe penalties.

4.21This amendment is significant, in that it authorised at an official level the use of the leather strap in national schools after a 10-year gap. The evidence would indicate, however, that the leather strap was used in schools throughout this period.

4.22The status of these Circulars could be debated. They were not statutory provisions, neither were they regulations or statutory instruments made under legislative authority conferred on the Department. The Department was, however, the relevant regulatory body and was clearly in a position to issue guidelines and recommendations and instructions. It appears that a school could not be prosecuted for breach of instructions contained in such Circulars. Neither, it would appear, could the Department enjoin observance by way of court order. The Circulars can be regarded as possessing a certain authority, on the basis that they represented the thinking of the Minister and the Department of what constituted reasonable and moderate punishment in schools at that time. Such views would not be binding on a court, but it would appear that they would have been relevant to the consideration by a judge or jury as to what was moderate or reasonable in the way of punishment in a school.

4.23Abolition of corporal punishment did not occur in Irish schools until 1st February 1982, when Department of Education Circular 9/82 stated that any teacher who used corporal punishment was now to be ‘regarded as guilty of conduct unbefitting a teacher’ and would be subject to ‘severe disciplinary action’.

4.24Although this Circular could have provided grounds for a civil action against a teacher who acted in breach of it, it was not until 19973 that physical punishment by a teacher became a criminal offence.

4.25Submissions made by the Christian Brothers and other Congregations on the subject of corporal punishment and physical abuse emphasised that the historical context is essential to any investigation. In particular, the fact that such punishment was permissible and widespread in schools and homes at the relevant time needed to be taken into consideration. The rules and prohibitions set out what was permissible or recommended in using corporal punishment, but it did not follow that departure from them constituted physical abuse. Neither did it follow that conduct that was occurring in other schools or in families at the time could not be abusive.

4.26The complexities of this question can be exaggerated and are, in fact, more theoretical than real. People who lived during the time when corporal punishment was legally permissible in schools, and was acceptable in family circumstances, have no difficulty in deciding whether punishments that they experienced or witnessed were excessive. Teachers, parents and children knew what was acceptable, and were able to condemn excesses. They also knew what amounted to cruelty and brutality. The documentary, and much of the oral evidence about physical abuse related to instances that were considered at that time to be wrong, judged by contemporary standards, not by those of today. The term ‘physical abuse’ was not used, but the concepts underlying the term were well understood.

Punishment book

4.27Pursuant to regulation 12 of the 1933 Rules and Regulations for Certified Industrial Schools, all industrial schools were required to keep a punishment book, in which all serious punishments were to be recorded. Only two such books, relating to a short period of time,4 were discovered to the Investigation Committee in the course of its inquiries, indicating that there was a complete disregard for this requirement on the part of school Managers. This had serious implications for the work of this Committee. Any investigation into historical abuse depends, amongst other factors, on proper records being maintained; and the information gleaned from one of the punishment books, from St Patrick’s Industrial School, Upton, would indicate that such records would have been a very important reference for the investigation.

1 Regulation 12 of the Rules and Regulations for the Certified Industrial Schools in Saorstát Éireann, 1933, approved by the Minister of Education under the Children Act, 1908.

2 The Department submits this wording ‘education provision’ means, in other words, the internal national school.

3 Section 24 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997 provides:
‘The rule of law under which teachers are immune from criminal liability in respect of physical chastisement of pupils is hereby abolished’.
With the removal of this immunity, teachers are now subject to section 2(1) of the 1997 Act, which provides that:
‘A person shall be guilty of the offence of assault, who, without lawful excuse, intentionally or recklessly—
(a) directly or indirectly applies force to or causes an impact on the body of another …’.
Teachers who physically chastise pupils may now be guilty of an offence and liable to 12 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of £1,500, pursuant to section 3(1) of the 1997 Act.

4 St Patrick’s Industrial School, Upton, County Cork and St Joseph’s Industrial School, Dundalk, County Louth.

Chapter 5
Investigation Committee Report – preliminary issues

5.01The work of the Committee from late 2004 covered over 20 industrial and reformatory schools. Further modules included the investigation of the career of one abuser, who was employed in a succession of national schools. In addition to these inquiries, other areas examined included the role of the Department of Education, and the funding of the schools.

5.02The work of preparation for the hearings was extensive and time-consuming. The steps included:

  • Obtaining statements from the complainants.
  • Locating respondents and obtaining responses from persons named by the complainants.
  • Obtaining responses from Religious Congregations and Orders affected by the allegations.
  • Inviting responses from relevant Government Departments.
  • Extensive discovery of documents was also obtained from: the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP); An Garda Síochana; the Health Service Executive; and the Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC). Discovery was also obtained from: the Department of Education and Science; the Department of Health and Children; the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform; the Orders and Congregations and some dioceses; and, occasionally, from the complainants themselves.

5.03A vast amount of material was received through this process, and over a million documents had to be analysed in detail by the legal team in order to ascertain the relevant information needed for the hearings.

5.04Individual books of evidence and material were produced and furnished for each hearing, and circulated to the numerous parties involved in each particular case, including complainants and respondents and Congregations.

5.05The Investigation Committee had sought to limit the number of lawyers present at the private hearings, in the belief that that would have assisted complainants giving evidence about sensitive or private matters. The Committee referred the matter to the High Court under section 25 of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Act, 2000 for a decision as to whether its proposal was lawful, and the court decided that it was an interference with the constitutional rights of the respondents and Congregations.1 As a consequence, it was impossible to limit the number of lawyers who attended. A typical Phase II private hearing was attended by a large number of persons at very considerable cost. For example:

  • Chairperson and two Commissioners;
  • Registrar;
  • stenographer;
  • sound engineer;
  • senior and junior counsel and solicitor for complainant;
  • three members of the Investigation Committee’s legal team;
  • two senior members of the particular Congregation or Order;
  • senior and junior counsel and solicitor for an individual respondent plus the individual respondent;
  • the same for a second named respondent if there was one;
  • the complainant witness.

5.06The result was that it was a daunting experience for a witness to come to the Phase II private hearings. The Committee was conscious of this, and tried to make the occasion as informal as possible and to reduce areas of conflict. Counsel co-operated with the Committee in this respect, and the Committee was appreciative of the manner in which the lawyers for all the different interests conducted themselves in the hearings.

5.07A small number of institutions were the subject of a more limited form of investigation than by way of full hearings. In the case of St Joseph’s Industrial School, Salthill and St Joseph’s Industrial School, Glin, both run by the Christian Brothers, the institutions themselves and the system of management and the nature of the complaints were all very similar to the matters that had been investigated in all the other Christian Brothers’ schools; and, as a result, it was unnecessary to have full hearings. Instead, the discovered documentary materials were examined for information as to abuse during the relevant period. Significant documents were sent to appropriate parties for comment, where those parties had not produced the discovered material, and any comments received by way of submission were then taken into account in the chapters on these two institutions.

5.08A similar method was adopted in investigating Our Lady of Good Counsel, Lota. This institution was the subject of a series of six separate Garda inquiries, which were continuing while the Committee was pursuing its work. A limited number of witnesses had already been heard by the Investigation Committee prior to 2003, and that testimony, together with documentary evidence, formed the basis of the chapter on the institution.

5.09One category of institution that was not included in full Investigation Committee hearings comprised three schools for deaf children. It was clear that members of the deaf community wanted to participate. In the consultation period that took place in early 2004, Mr Kevin Stanley and other officials of the Irish Deaf Society attended meetings and offered assistance, and were enthusiastic about their members’ desire to be part of the investigation process. The numbers of persons (109 in total) who notified the Investigation Committee that they wished to participate in its proceedings in respect of deaf schools were as follows:

  • St Joseph’s School for Deaf Boys, Cabra – 65
  • St Mary’s School for Deaf Girls, Cabra – 23
  • Mary Immaculate School for the Deaf, Beechpark, Stillorgan – 21.

5.10Unfortunately, it proved impossible to arrange full hearings for these institutions. The principal difficulty was in getting statements from a sufficient number of former residents of these institutions. There had been a protracted and unproductive correspondence between the Committee and solicitors representing the great majority of the deaf complainants about the taking of statements, and the period of time that was necessary for that purpose, and the cost of doing so. The result was that little had been achieved even by late 2005. It was impracticable to prepare all the necessary materials and to arrange hearings in these cases. Obtaining statements from complainants was only the first step in putting all the pieces together to enable full investigative hearings to take place. Since that first step was not satisfactorily completed in a reasonable time, there was no question of all the other necessary procedures being completed so as to enable hearings to take place.

5.11The Investigation Committee had, since early 2005, been implementing a programme of interviewing witnesses who were not heard in private hearings, and decided to offer that facility to all of the deaf complainants. The Committee put in place appropriate interpretative services, and witnesses responded in considerable numbers. A total of 78 persons in this category were interviewed.

5.12In the circumstances, limited investigation of these institutions was also carried out by way of analysis of documentary material.

The programme of interviewing witnesses

5.13A scheme of interviews was introduced in early 2005, following the hearings into St Joseph’s Industrial School, Ferryhouse and St Patrick’s Industrial School, Upton. Selection of witnesses had previously been made in those investigations by examining the documents that had been submitted, and a proportion of the potential complainant witnesses had been called to testify. There remained a substantial body of witnesses who had the option of transferring to the Confidential Committee, but whose first choice was to contribute to the work of the Investigation Committee.

5.14In early 2005, the Committee devised another means of including complainants in the work of the Investigation Committee: in a progress report and outline of work to be done, the Committee published on its website details of an interview process that it was introducing. It proposed to invite complainants for interview, which would be carried out by members of the legal team.

5.15For those institutions which the Committee was not investigating by way of hearings, all the complainants were invited for interview.

5.16In respect of three large institutions – Artane, Letterfrack and Daingean – all complainants who were not called to give evidence before the investigation into these institutions were invited to be interviewed by a member of the legal team.

5.17In respect of the inquiries into the remaining institutions heard by the Investigation Committee, all complainants were invited to give evidence, and those that did not want to proceed to the hearing were offered an interview. Many complainants proceeded in this manner.

5.18The interviews had two primary purposes: first, to furnish a means of checking or cross-referencing, to ensure that all relevant topics arising in an institution had been properly considered; and, second, to give everyone who wished to do so a means of participating in the work of the Investigation Committee.

5.19The interview process was greatly valued, and witnesses participated in substantial numbers. A total of 552 people ultimately attended for interview.

The Investigation Committee’s method of investigation

5.20The Committee made clear, at the meeting of 7th May 2004, the difficulties of identifying and naming individual respondents accused of abuse. Having considered all the issues, the Committee abandoned the policy of naming individual abusers. This policy change paved the way for the Committee to concentrate on the area of investigating further into neglect and emotional abuse issues.

5.21The investigation into most schools consisted of a Phase I public hearing, which allowed the Congregation involved the opportunity of presenting their case as to how their institutions were managed. It also gave the Congregation the opportunity of making any concessions or arguments that it thought relevant before the hearing of the evidence in private.

5.22Most Congregations made concessions of some kind at these hearings, particularly in regard to questions of emotional abuse and neglect. They also furnished useful background materials which it would have been difficult for the Investigation Committee to assemble about the history of the Institution and relevant administrative details. Above all, the Phase I hearings outlined the position that the Congregation was adopting on the questions of abuse in the Institution.

5.23There was no cross-examination at the Phase I hearing. Counsel for the Investigation Committee took the Congregation witness through the evidence and invited responses, and the Congregation’s own counsel was then able to examine the witness further to clarify any matters. Complainants and their legal representatives were present at these hearings, but they did not have a role in questioning the witnesses.

5.24Phase II hearings, the private hearings into specific allegations of abuse in institutions, then commenced. When the private hearings were completed, the Phase III public hearings enabled the Congregations to respond to the evidence.

5.25The Phase III public hearings also included the Departments of Education and Science; Justice, Equality and Law Reform; and Health and Children, as well as hearings into the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC).

5.26At these Phase III hearings, legal teams that had represented substantial numbers of complainants were engaged by the Investigation Committee to cross-examine relevant witnesses. Counsel and solicitors on those occasions took the role of amicus curiae, which is that of a person whose role is to assist a court in a case where it is thought necessary to have interests represented when they are not parties in the action. The Committee expresses its gratitude to counsel and solicitors for performing this role so ably and helpfully. Submissions were sought and received from complainants and respondents heard following these hearings.


5.27The Rosminian Institute was unique among the Religious Congregations and Orders in its approach. Management and members were candid in their admissions, they were supportive of the work of the investigation, and they were sympathetic to their ex-residents. Other Congregations adopted a more defensive attitude and were more sceptical of evidence of abuse.

5.28Some Congregations appeared more concerned with discrediting the complainant than with finding out what had happened in its institution. No person or body should have been more concerned with uncovering instances of abuse than the Religious Congregations that ran the schools. However, some Congregations perceived allegations as an attack on the whole Congregation and adopted a defensive position, which militated against the truth emerging.


5.29Difficulties arose from the matters being investigated and the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the Commission and the Residential Institutions Redress Board.

5.30The events in question happened a long time ago. Most industrial schools had been closed by the mid-1970s. When the Investigation Committee hearings took place, many of the incidents recalled had taken place at least 40 years prior to that.

5.31The Investigation Committee heard from witnesses some of whom had endured lives of hardship and poverty, and many had been afflicted by physical illnesses and psychological problems. Some had experienced substance addictions that tended to impair memory. Many witnesses at private hearings acknowledged such misfortunes.

5.32Outside events had the potential to influence evidence given by witnesses. Following the ‘Dear Daughter’ programme in 1996, which documented allegations of abuse in Goldenbridge Industrial School, there was a flood of publicity about abuse in institutions. There were television programmes such as ‘States of Fear’, which were broadcast by RTE in April and May 1999 dealing with institutional abuse, which attracted enormous public interest and comment. The largest institutions such as Artane and Goldenbridge were often discussed in all the media, including the internet. Books of reminiscences appeared, and one major study, ‘Suffer the Little Children’ by Raftery and O’Sullivan,2 was published.

5.33The campaign for recognition and redress continued after the establishment of the Commission. Many meetings were held by victims’ groups in Ireland and the UK. They were also used to organise complainants to participate in the Commission’s work. These meetings were well attended. Members of the audience participated and, on occasions, recounted their experiences of abuse in the institutions. These meetings were another source of potential influence and suggestion to witnesses.

5.34Attending meetings to press for a Redress Scheme, and to provide generally for advantageous conditions for victims of abuse, was not wrong, and it was entirely to be expected that people would attend and would describe their experiences. Witnesses who attended the meetings, however, were very defensive and reticent about what went on. The Committee is satisfied that, at some of these meetings, individual accounts of abuse were recounted in detail and individuals were identified.

5.35Yet another source of potential pressure and influence on witnesses complaining of abuse was to be found in the developments that led to the enactment of the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Act, 2000.

5.36The story of the amendment to the Statute of Limitations Act, 1957 can usefully begin with the Taoiseach’s announcement of the package of redress measures on 11th May 1999, when this Commission was also announced. The Taoiseach announced that the Government would amend the 1957 legislation to enable victims to bring claims for sexual abuse, but it was not anticipated at the time that physical abuse would be included. The progress of the Amendment Bill through the Oireachtas was followed closely, and was discussed at meetings of victims groups all over Ireland and the UK. The Government referred the question to the Law Reform Commission, whose consideration and report also gave rise to public interest. The solution that was put in place in the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Act, 2000 was confined to sexual abuse. The Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002 was not so confined, and extended to the full range of abuse with which this investigation is concerned. There was an important period during which there was real concern that compensation might be restricted to cases of sexual abuse.

5.37The amendment to the Statute of Limitations conferred an entitlement to bring a late claim on persons who, by virtue of the trauma associated with sexual abuse, had been unable to bring a claim within the existing limitation period. In addition, it provided for an extension of time to claim for victims who had spoken about their experiences and who therefore would have had difficulty in proving the necessary psychological impairment required by the Act. Such a person qualified by fulfilling one of two conditions, namely: (a) the claimant had consulted a solicitor and had been advised that the claim was statute barred; or (b) the claimant had made a report to An Garda Síochana about sexual abuse within one year prior to the enactment of the legislation.

5.38People giving evidence about events that occurred many years ago in their childhoods might not be precise on detail. Many of them were young children in large institutions, in which the adults dressed the same and were known as ‘Sister’, ‘Brother’, ‘Father’ or by surnames, religious names or nicknames. In addition, staff came and went, and sometimes stayed only for very short periods of time.

5.39Potential distorting influences on evidence were not confined to complainants. While some ex-staff members were extraordinarily candid in their acknowledgment of abuses in institutions, others were unable to recall major incidents or practices that were features of them. There was a tendency to shut out unpleasant and embarrassing incidents. The inability of some former staff members to recall any unfavourable aspects of their experiences in institutions was not inspired by a desire to mislead the investigation. It was, rather, incapacity to accommodate the fact that people whose mission was spiritual and religious could have behaved cruelly, basely and self-indulgently, and that colleagues might have stood by or covered up such wrongdoing.

5.40It was not always easy for respondent witnesses to testify to the shortcomings, either of themselves or of their colleagues, when they had to do so in the presence of senior members of their own Congregations.


5.41In the Position Paper published in May 2004, the Investigation Committee considered the question of naming individuals who were believed to be guilty of committing abuse of children. The Committee subsequently decided to implement the policy that was set out in the Position Paper.

5.42The amending legislation in 2005 only permitted the naming of persons who had been convicted in the criminal courts of abuse of children. The legislation did not require that the person to be named should have been convicted of the specific abuse that was the subject of the report. In other words, if a person had been convicted of abuse of children of some nature at some time, it was permissible under the legislation for him or her to be named as being responsible for abuse in some quite different circumstances or at a different time.

5.43Even under the unamended legislation, naming some individuals was always going to be fraught with difficulty and inconsistency. The probability was that only a very small number of persons would actually be named. This issue was debated in the Position Paper, and outlined to the public meeting of the Investigation Committee. The supposed benefits of being able to name persons who committed abuse were outweighed by the disadvantages.

5.44The Report does not identify individuals by name in respect of any abuse that they committed.

5.45The anonymity of complainants is guaranteed under the Act.

5.46Although the process is called anonymising, that is a relatively convenient and pronounceable, but somewhat misleading, way of referring to the actual process, which is protecting persons living or dead by giving them pseudonyms. The mechanics of the process are that respondents are given names from a catalogue of names that have a common source. For example, all the Christian Brothers are given names of French origin. In other cases, Spanish or Italian names are used. As far as possible, the names have been chosen with a view to emphasising the fact that they are pseudonyms.

5.47Some names have not been anonymised. Officials of the Department of Education are generally described by the names they used in correspondence or reports.

1 In Re Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse [2002] 3 IR 459.

2 Mary Raftery and Eoin O’Sullivan, Suffer the Little Children (New Island, 1999).

Chapter 6
The Congregation of Christian Brothers


6.01This preliminary chapter deals with topics that are of general application to the consideration of abuse in industrial schools run by the Christian Brothers.


6.02Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762–1844), a wealthy import and export trader in the city of Waterford, opened a school for poor children in that city in 1802. He began recruiting men who shared his ambition to provide a free education for the poor Catholic children of Ireland. By 1803, a monastery was built in the city and more young men joined. In this way he founded the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, which became known as the Irish Christian Brothers.

6.03His inspiration had come from a remark made by the sister of the Bishop of Waterford, with whom he was discussing his ambition to become a member of a religious Congregation. A band of ragged boys passed by and, pointing to them, she exclaimed, ‘What! would you bury yourself in a cell on the continent rather than devote your wealth and your life to the spiritual and material interest of these poor youths?’ Inspired by these words, Rice talked to other friends, all of whom advised him to undertake the mission to which he was being called. He settled his business affairs in 1800, the most profitable year he had known, and two years later opened his first Christian school.

6.04The schools were open to all comers and were free to the poor. He developed a system whereby one Brother, sometimes with a monitor as assistant, would teach about 150 boys who were graded not by age but ability. He was adamant there should be no physical punishment, which he found contrary to his own spirit. In 1820 he wrote, ‘Unless for some faults which rarely occur, corporal punishment is never inflicted’.

6.05His schools were a success and, as Edmund Rice’s reputation spread, his Community grew rapidly in numbers. By 1806, schools were established in Waterford, Carrick-on-Suir, and Dungarvan, and by 1808 the Community had Houses in Dublin, Cork and Limerick. Initially, they adopted, with modifications, the Rule of the Presentation Order of nuns and, like them, were subject to their local bishops. In 1820, however, the Order now known as the Christian Brothers became the first Irish Community of men to be granted a charter by the Holy See1 and to be recognised as a Papal Institute. This new status meant that the Brothers were no longer under the authority of local bishops, and could develop their own internal management, under the overall authority of the Holy See, through the Secretariat of State for Religious. Br Rice was unanimously elected Superior General, and all the Houses were united under the new regime except for Cork, as the local bishop there refused his consent. In 1826, they too joined the greater Congregation, although one member, Br Austin Reardon, opted to remain under the old Order and founded the teaching Congregation of Presentation Brothers.

6.06From 1802 to 1868 the Christian Brothers remained a small group of men who managed only day schools for poor Catholic boys. It was the introduction in 1858 of the industrial school system into Ireland that led to the Congregation moving into the management of residential schools. The new industrial schools fitted in with their charism of educating and helping the poor. Moreover, the schools were being subsidised by the State, through a capitation system, whereby a sum was paid for each boy placed in the school. It was a system that for the first time would provide the Christian Brothers with a guaranteed income to feed, clothe, house and educate the boys.

6.07The Brothers opened their first industrial school in Artane in 1870. It was a purpose-built school for 825 boys, built to the highest specifications. From that date, there was a rapid expansion of the Christian Brothers throughout Ireland and Great Britain. In 1868 a small number were sent to Australia, and the Congregation rapidly flourished there. In 1875 they moved to Newfoundland, where they opened another school. By 1900 there were Christian Brothers’ schools in Ireland, Britain, Australia, Newfoundland, Gibraltar, New Zealand, India and Rome. Soon after that, the Congregation developed in Africa, the USA and later in South America. The Brothers are today a worldwide organisation with institutions in more than 26 countries on all populated continents.

6.08In Ireland, the Christian Brothers soon occupied the dominant position in the industrial school system. Between 1868 and 1894 they had control of six industrial schools spread across the country, certified to take in a total of 1,750 boys. In 1831 the residence of the Superior General of the Irish Christian Brothers and the centre of teacher training was moved to North Richmond Street (O’Connell Schools) Dublin from Our Lady’s Mount (North Monastery) in Cork. In 1874 it was transferred to Belvedere House in Drumcondra, now the residence of the President of St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. In 1875 the Brothers moved to Marino House, on the original Lord Charlemont demesne, and established their Generalate there. They recruited boys for their novitiates in schools across the country and sent them to their boarding schools, such as the one in Baldoyle, where they studied for the Leaving Certificate.

6.09In 1956 the Irish Province divided into two, St Helen’s Province and St Mary’s Province.

6.10The growth in numbers of Christian Brothers was remarkable. In 1831, there were only 45 Christian Brothers. By 1900, there were almost 1,000; and by 1960, there were 4,000 Christian Brothers in Ireland.2

6.11The six Christian Brothers’ industrial schools in Ireland were as follows:

Name of School Years of operation Certified number of boys
Artane Industrial School for Senior Boys 1870–1969 825
St Joseph’s Industrial School for Senior Boys, Tralee 1870–1970 145
St Joseph’s Industrial School for Senior Boys, Salthill 1871–1995 200
St Joseph’s Industrial School for Senior Boys, Glin 1872–1966 190
St Joseph’s Industrial School for Senior Boys, Letterfrack 1887–1974 165
Carriglea Park Industrial School for Senior Boys, Dun Laoghaire 1896–1954 250
Total 1,750

6.12The Congregation operated, in addition, two day/boarding schools, for orphans – namely, The O’Brien Institute and St Vincent’s, Glasnevin – and a school for the deaf, St Joseph’s School for the Deaf, Cabra, as well as over 100 primary and secondary schools.3 While the Sisters of Mercy managed a much greater number of industrial schools than the Brothers, they were diocesan congregations that were not under central management until the mid-1980s and were in effect independent institutions until then. The Brothers, by contrast, were a unitary organisation under central management and control from 1820.

6.13The Christian Brothers became a powerful and dominant organisation in the State and were responsible for providing primary and post primary education to the majority of Catholic boys in the country. Their greatest involvement was with non-residential education, and only a minority of Brothers were involved in industrial school work at any time.

6.14The extent of the Congregation’s involvement in residential care was reflected in the number of complaints (over 700) received by the Investigation Committee from former residents of its institutions, and in the number of hearings held (149) and interviews given (220).

6.15The Investigation Committee conducted full investigative hearings into four of the institutions: Artane, Letterfrack, Tralee and Carriglea Park. Limited inquiries by way of analysis of discovered documents took place into the remaining two industrial schools, Salthill and Glin, and St Joseph’s School for Deaf Boys, Cabra.

The Christian Brothers’ mission

6.16In 1923 the Christian Brothers set out a new Constitution and Rule that reiterated the mission of the Congregation:

The main end of the Congregation is that all its members labour for their own sanctification by the observance of the Evangelical Counsels and of these Constitutions. The secondary end is that they endeavour to promote the spiritual good of the neighbour by the instruction of youth, especially the poor, in religious knowledge, and their training in christian piety.

The Brothers conduct Schools in which they teach the poor gratuitously; Institutions for orphan and neglected children; Day Schools and Boarding Schools which are maintained by the fees of the pupils; and other educational works.4

6.17The majority of the Brothers who had worked in the industrial schools and who gave evidence made the decision to join the Congregation when they were 13 or 14 years of age. Some spoke of having joined the Christian Brothers at such a young age out of a spirit of adventure and a desire to do good in the world. They received instruction in theology and philosophy, and believed in the message of salvation through good works that was the cornerstone of the Christian Brothers’ mission.

Organisation and management

6.18Supreme authority in the Congregation is vested in the General Chapter5 which is held every six years. It is composed of former senior office holders, former Superiors General and delegates from each Province. The General Chapter is also the Congregation’s legislative body whose statutes are known as Acts of Chapter. Outside the periods when the General Chapter is in session, authority is vested in the Superior General and his Council as the governing body.

6.19The General Chapter elects the Superior General and four assistants to serve for a period of six years on the General Council. The Superior General may serve for no more than two consecutive terms. The assistants remain in office until a new General Chapter is convened.

6.20The General Council appoints the Provincials and their assistants, who in turn appoint Superiors to Communities. The basic organisational unit is the Community. Each Community is headed by a Superior, assisted by a Sub-Superior and a local council, all appointed by the Provincial Council. The Superior is appointed for a three-year term and may be reappointed, but, like his superiors, he may only serve two consecutive terms.

6.21When a Community of Brothers operated an industrial school, the Provincial Council ensured that their Superior was also the Resident Manager. These dual roles are relevant when considering the statutory demands of the position of Resident Manager. The practice also made it difficult for the Brothers to accept the recommendation of the Cussen Commission6 that the Minister for Education should control the appointment of Resident Managers. The Congregation was obviously going to guard its right to appoint Superiors of its own Communities.

6.22Brothers appointed to the position of Superiors, who thereby became ex officio Resident Managers of the institutions, assumed a very large responsibility but received no training for the role, even though the calibre of the manager affected the whole institution. A good manager not merely ran the school well, but improved the living conditions for staff and boys. A poor manager had a serious impact on an institution.

6.23Although the Congregation was well organised at a national and provincial level, local organisation was often unsatisfactory. There was no discernable management structure in place within the industrial schools looked at by the Committee. Individual post-holders were appointed by the Superior, but there was no system of monitoring or support once the appointment had been made, and there was no obvious system of consultation with younger members of the Community who were often responsible for the day-to-day running of the school. There was no formally recognised complaints procedure within the local Community. This was evidenced by the number of complaints communicated to the Visitor7 that had not been voiced by the Brothers to the Superior in the community.

6.24The lack of any safe, secure method of making a complaint was a serious difficulty for the boys. Boys could only speak about the actions of a Brother to another Brother and were naturally reluctant to do so, fearing that they would be disbelieved or reported back to the Brother about whom they complained of. In the 1940s, a sodality8 in Artane allowed boys to make complaints in a safe and confidential environment. Four sexual abusers were uncovered as a result, and were removed from the institution. This facility was discontinued and was never introduced into any other industrial school run by the Brothers. The obvious success of this initiative was not perceived as such by the Congregation, and it is probable that a great deal of the sexual abuse that continued unchecked for many decades in some schools could have been prevented by the introduction of a simple complaints mechanism.

Christian Brothers managers’ meetings

6.25Meetings were held annually by the managers of the Congregation’s six industrial schools together with the O’Brien Institute, St Vincent’s, Glasnevin, and St Joseph’s School for Deaf Boys, Cabra. They discussed general issues affecting the operation of their institutions, and little attention appears to have been focused on the affairs of individual schools. From a review of the minutes of these meetings held between 1936 and 1965, it can be seen that among the matters considered were:

  • Dealings with the Department of Education and its policy regarding the institutions.
  • Numbers in the institutions and the impact of decreasing numbers.
  • Matters concerning the welfare of the children, including health, education, and aftercare.
  • Financial affairs of the schools including the manner in which accounts should be maintained and presented, determination of the level of income to be taken by brothers (stipend) from the school income, payment of teachers; approach to be adopted in seeking increased grants from the Department.
  • Consideration of issues to be discussed at Resident Managers’ Association meetings.
  • Other significant issues that might affect the institutions from time to time, for example the response to the Cussen Report.

6.26These meetings were held in advance of the annual meeting for Resident Managers of all industrial schools and reformatories, which were convened by the Resident Managers Association. This association was a means whereby industrial schools could present a united front in negotiations with the Department of Education.


6.27The Christian Brothers contended that the quality of care provided in their industrial schools was the best they could provide, because the State funding was significantly below what was necessary to provide a proper standard of care.

6.28The funding from the State was by the capitation system, whereby a fixed sum was paid to the Congregation for each boy in the institution. Part of the grant was paid by the State and part by the local authority from whose area the child came.

6.29According to the Department of Education and Science in its statement furnished in advance of the Phase III hearings, the payment was intended ‘to cover the expenses incurred in maintaining the children in the schools, including clothing, footwear, food, general medical care, staffing and accommodation’. The Department of Education and Science also explained that, under the legislation that set up this system, ‘the school premises were owned and provided by the religious orders. The schools provided their own buildings, farms and plant without the aid of the State and local Authorities’.

6.30The main disadvantage of the capitation system was that the financial position of the institution was determined by the number of children committed. As a result, there was pressure on schools to maximise numbers and there was no incentive to allow early release of children.

6.31In their Opening Submission for the Artane hearings, the Congregation dealt with the question of funding in general terms, which applied to all their industrial schools. It made two important assertions: first, it stated that the Kennedy Committee found that the grant aid paid to industrial schools in Ireland was ‘totally inadequate’; and, secondly, it compared the capitation in the State to funding in Northern Ireland and found that the former rate was significantly below the allowance in the neighbouring jurisdiction.

6.32With regard to the Kennedy Report finding, however, it must be noted that, at the time of the publication of that report in 1970, numbers in industrial schools had fallen dramatically and therefore the system of capitation that depended on large numbers of children in care was no longer an appropriate method of funding such schools. Kennedy recommended that the capitation system be replaced by an annual agreed budget, and this was ultimately put in place.

6.33Throughout the 1940s and 1950s and for some of the 1960s, capitation was a reasonable method of financing because schools had large numbers of children and the fixed costs associated with the running of these schools could be spread across a larger pupil population.

6.34The industrial schools run by the Christian Brothers, with the exception of Letterfrack after 1954, had sufficient numbers of boys for economies of scale to be an important factor in assessing adequacy of funding. Farms provided food for the institutions and, in some cases, additional income. Trades such as tailoring and boot-making provided cheap clothing and could also be a source of additional income.

6.35The chapters on the individual schools reveal that food, clothing, accommodation, education and aftercare were poorly provided. When the Department Inspector raised any of these issues with a Resident Manager, the standard response was that funding was inadequate to provide a higher level of care.

6.36For most of the relevant period funding was adequate to provide basic care for children in industrial schools, particularly during periods of high occupancy. By the late 1960s, falling numbers made it impossible for all six industrial schools to stay open and, by 1973, only Salthill continued to operate.

6.37The Brothers who lived in the monastery, even those with little or no involvement with the school, were assigned a stipend out of the capitation grant. This money was not paid to them personally but put into a fund for the maintenance of the Community.

6.38The level of stipend to be taken from the school was determined internally by the Congregation and on occasion was discussed at the Annual Managers’ Meeting. The 1940 minutes stated:

The Community income is made up mainly by the brothers’ Stipends. The following scale was decided upon.

Artane: Manager: £500

Sub-Manager: £300

And each of the brothers (engaged in the institution) £120

For all other institutions:

Manager: £300

Sub Manager: £200

And each Brother: £120.

6.39The minutes went on:

The Community Expenses would not include ordinary “Rations” such as Bread, Flour, Meat, Milk, Butter, Fish, Eggs, Vegetables – Laundry, Fuel & Light. Any Balance (cr.) is to be treated as an Advance from Community to Institution as is done in case of ordinary House Loan A/c.

6.40By 1954, the stipend had increased to £250 per Brother, and was £400 per Brother in 1964.

6.41The stipend was the same amount irrespective of how much work the Brother did in the institution or in caring for the boys.

6.42Stipends were in effect, in the nature of salaries that the Brothers paid themselves out of the school income and amounted to a substantial proportion of it. These stipends could represent up to 15% of the total capitation grant received by an institution.

6.43The stipend was sufficient to enable some Communities, notably Artane, Carriglea and Glin, to invest money in the Congregation’s Building Fund and to make payments to the Congregation by way of annual Visitation Dues.

6.44Details of the Building Fund requested by the Committee were furnished between July 2007 and February 2008.

6.45The Congregation stated:

The Building Fund consisted of monies which were forwarded to the Provincial Councils by communities for use in refurbishing existing schools and building new schools. A Community submitted excess funds to the Building Fund, which funds could be called on for refurbishments and/or erections of new buildings.

6.46This contrasted with the Congregation’s Opening Statement for Artane in which they stated:

the Brothers, in keeping with their vocation, lived frugal lives and surplus monies thus, generated in the Community Accounts were lodged to a Building Fund established by the Congregation for use on capital expenditure on Artane. It is quite clear, therefore, that the financial contribution from the Community in Artane to the Institution was substantial.

6.47The Congregation was not in a position to say how much money in total was paid into the Building Fund by their industrial schools, but the accounts furnished show that Artane was consistently one of the largest contributors. Visitation Reports show payments into this fund by all the industrial schools at some point. There was also some evidence of payments out of this fund to the industrial schools, but these were relatively small sums and were generally concentrated in the period immediately prior to the closure of the institution as an industrial school.

Visitation Dues

6.48In the Phase III public hearing for Tralee, Br Nolan was asked to explain what the Visitation Dues were:

The Brothers in the Community maintained their House through taking a stipend and taking a salary from the money available. So also would the Provincial Council, they had no means of support other than putting a stipend on each House. It is a few hundred pounds. It changed with time of course. It was a levy on each Brother to contribute to the Provincial Council.

6.49The accounts for Artane show that the greatest expense in the House accounts over the period 1940 to 1969 was annual Visitation Dues. In that period the non-capital expenditure of the House was £236,000, and approximately one-third of this, £82,575, was sent to the Provincial towards the support of the Congregation by way of Visitation Dues.

6.50In all of the correspondence between the Department of Education and the Orders on the question of finance, the financial needs of the Community or the Congregation were never discussed. The Department of Education’s understanding of its role as set out above was to pay capitation grants in respect of youthful offenders and children committed to their schools under the provisions of the Children Acts, 1908 and 1941, and the School Attendance Act, 1926.

6.51The stipends paid to all Brothers, out of which Visitation Dues and payments to the Building Fund account were made, represented a drain on resources available for the maintenance of the children.


6.52Supervision of Communities was the responsibility of the Provincial Council for the region and was exercised by way of annual Visitations by a member of the Council. The Visitor stayed with the Community for a number of days, following which he sent a written report to the Provincial Council, which was copied to the Superior General. The Provincial or another member of the Council sent a follow-up letter to the Superior of the Community referring to salient points in the report, but the report itself was not given to the Superior.

6.53Visitations were a requirement of Canon Law, and their primary objective was to ensure that the Brothers were acting in the spirit of their vocation and observing the rules of the Congregation. In addition, the Visitor was required to inquire into the condition of discipline in the Community, its finances, and its premises. Although his function was primarily to inspect, the Visitor was also required to take immediate action if, during the course of his inspection, he encountered ‘anything of a serious nature … opposed to the religious spirit’ in the Community.

6.54Visitations proceeded according to a formal pattern laid down in the Constitutions of the Order. The Visitor had a preliminary meeting with the Superior and then he had individual meetings with the Brothers. These conversations were confidential, and the Superior was expressly prohibited from attempting to influence what Brothers said in their conversations with the Visitor. The Visitor then met the Superior for a second time to discuss his administration of the Community. The Visitor did not routinely speak to the boys, and only met individual boys on exceptional occasions.

6.55Visitation Reports for Communities attached to industrial schools followed the same general pattern, dealing with topics of Community observance and usually including comment on some or all of the following topics: health and diet, schools, premises, trades, aftercare, statistics, recreation, and finances.

6.56The rules of the Congregation required that, if ‘serious irregularities’ reported at the time of the Visitation had not been remedied within a period of two months, the Brothers who reported them were to write to the Provincial or the Superior General directly and inform him of their continuance.

6.57The Visitations were thorough, and the reports provided a good deal of detail about the operation of the various Communities. Although their purpose was primarily religious and concerned with the Community, the reports usually contained information about the industrial school and the children. Some Brothers were candid in reporting problems to the Visitor, as is demonstrated in the individual chapters on institutions. The system also enabled a Brother to circumvent his Superior by making a complaint to the Visitor if he felt that the former would not believe him. A number of cases of sexual abuse became known in this fashion.

6.58Visitors often made frank observations and they could be severely critical in their reports, although the summaries that the Provincials sent to the Managers were usually much more discreet in their comments.

6.59Visitation Reports are the single most valuable source of documentary evidence about life in the Brothers’ industrial schools. They were written during inspections or shortly afterwards. The writers were senior members of the Congregation. Reports were intended for internal use by the Council of which the Visitor was a member. Where they contain criticisms of Brothers or institutions, the reports can therefore be considered reliable.

6.60The Visitation Reports often contain information and comment that are much more critical and disapproving than the Department of Education Inspector’s reports, which were also supposed to be conducted annually and were focused on the health of the boys and the conditions within the school.

6.61The system had its limitations. In Communities where there were no personnel problems, the staff tended to close ranks. Visitors were more likely to get a realistic picture of an institution when there were problems in the Community, such as when relations were strained among the Brothers. Some Brothers testified that they were reluctant to complain to the Visitor for a number of reasons, including lack of familiarity with the Visitation system or feeling too junior to report. Others feared they might jeopardise their careers by complaining or that the complaint would get back to their Superior who would react badly to it. Furthermore, there were no objective standards applied to these reports and so different Visitors inspecting within months of each other could come to quite different conclusions as to the adequacy of the management.

6.62The major deficiency of the Visitation system was that, while it was able to identify problems in an institution, it did not provide solutions or ensure that changes were put in place. In some cases, the Visitation Report was highly critical of a particular Resident Manager or member of staff, but the Council did nothing to remedy the situation, and the Provincial in his follow-up letter did not even mention the problem. A member of the current Provincial Leadership Team was asked to explain this failure to act on Visitors’ complaints, and he attributed it to the fact that the Visitation was a personal inspection, the report was a discussion document, and the Provincial Council might not necessarily agree with all of its conclusions.

6.63Even if this interpretation is accepted as applying in certain cases, it does not explain why the Provincial authorities remained inactive in cases where they and the Visitor were united in their criticisms of a particular staff member. The records of the Congregation do not disclose any instance when a Superior/ Resident Manager was removed from his post for failing in his duties.

Joining, leaving and transferring

Joining the Congregation

6.64Christian Brothers were recruited when they were very young. Most of the Brothers and former Brothers who gave evidence joined in their early teens, many when only 14 years of age. Brothers known as Postulators travelled around the country visiting primary and secondary schools to recruit boys. The new recruits were then sent to boarding schools operated by the Congregation, where they studied and sat for their Intermediate and Leaving Certificates, before beginning their preparation for life in religion. Brothers who were not suitable for teacher training became Coadjutor Brothers and worked as cooks, gardeners, farmers or general support staff in the schools.

6.65Many of the Brothers and former Brothers who gave evidence to the Committee described the education and standard of care that they received in these schools as excellent. Conditions were good, the quality of care they received was of a high standard and, while life was extremely regimented, there was no corporal punishment.

6.66One former Brother described his experiences as follows:

[it was a] well run [boarding school] … much better run school than the one I had left … It was immensely pleasant and companionable and I have nothing only good memories of it. I had no trouble about it I think in my mind … When I went to the juniorate, to Old Connaught, there was no corporal punishment, there was no sense of fear. They were much better. I think I had a particularly bad set of teachers in [a named National school], but there was good teaching and everything was structured. I think again, a good boarding school operates on keeping you busy all the time and we were certainly kept busy all the time …

6.67Other Brothers described a similarly positive experience. One Brother said that ‘the staff were very good, they were very good teachers … they were excellent teachers’. Another former Brother, who was critical of many aspects of the training process, said that;

‘I have very happy memories of Baldoyle. It was a very friendly place. We got on very well with each other. It was happy go lucky. We were very well treated. I have no particular axe to grind about … Baldoyle’.

6.68In his article ‘Seven Years in the Brothers’, Professor Tom Dunne described the contrast between the juniorate he attended and his old schools as ‘remarkable’:

Here there was no corporal punishment and bullying was not tolerated. We were treated fundamentally as adults who had taken on immense responsibilities, and as new members of the Community. The teachers were all Brothers, and were among the best the Congregation had. It was all profoundly civilised, carefully disciplined and immensely caring.

6.69A boy could not enter the Novitiate until he was 15 years of age, at which point he wore the habit of the Congregation. When he had completed his Leaving Certificate, he spent a year in the Novitiate studying religion. He took his first religious vows on the first Christmas Day after the completion of the Novitiate. These were temporary vows and were renewed annually.

6.70Having completed the Novitiate, the temporarily professed Brother was sent to the Congregation’s Teacher Training College in Marino to study primary school teaching. The course was two years in length, but the Congregation was given a dispensation from the Department of Education whereby its members left the college when they completed their first year to work in schools run by the Congregation. After a number of years working in the field, the Brothers returned to college to complete their second year and become fully qualified National Teachers. This arrangement with the Department delayed the acquisition of the National Teacher qualification.

6.71The rules of the Congregation provided that a temporarily professed Brother could not take perpetual vows until he was 25 years old and had made temporary vows for at least six years. In this regard, the rules of the Congregation differed from the requirements of Canon Law, under which an individual could make permanent vows at 21 years of age.

6.72The combination of these provisions meant that young Brothers were unable to acquire their qualifications as teachers until they were well advanced towards a binding commitment to their vocations. These young, temporarily professed Brothers were often sent to industrial schools to teach for a number of years before returning to Marino. They were put in charge of large classes of boys and were also expected to perform supervisory duties in the afternoons and evenings and throughout the weekend. They had neither the teacher training nor the childcare training to equip them for this task.

Leaving the Congregation

6.73An individual could leave the Congregation voluntarily or he could be dismissed. The rules governing the departure and the dismissal of religious are contained in the Constitutions of the Congregation and the Code of Canon Law 1917.

6.74The rules draw a distinction between Novices, temporarily professed Brothers, and perpetually professed Brothers. Novices could leave voluntarily at any time, as they had not taken any vows. The General or Provincial Councils could dismiss them for ‘just reasons’, and there was no requirement to inform the Novice of the reasons for his dismissal. The decision to dismiss the Novice was taken by the General or Provincial Council.

6.75A temporarily professed Brother could leave voluntarily at the expiration of his annual vows. The Superior General or the General Council could dismiss him for ‘grave reasons’. He was entitled to be told the reason for his dismissal, and had the right to have an opportunity to defend himself and to appeal to the Holy See. The Congregation also had the power to refuse to permit a Brother to renew his vows for ‘just and reasonable motives’. The evidence before the Committee indicated that the latter was the preferred method of removing temporarily professed Brothers.

6.76Having taken perpetual vows, a perpetually professed Brother could only leave the Congregation voluntarily by applying to be dispensed from his vows. In Pontifical Congregations such as the Christian Brothers, only the Holy See could grant a dispensation from perpetual vows. This power was sometimes delegated to an Apostolic Visitor, who could grant a dispensation where he considered it wise and necessary to do so. If Rome granted it, the local Bishop formally executed the indult. The discovery material indicated that Brothers who wished to be dispensed applied first to the Provincial Council who, if they voted in favour of the request, would forward it to the General Council. If they in turn voted in favour, it was sent to the relevant Secretariat in the Vatican. A dispensation was not automatically granted.

6.77The dispensation procedure was often utilised in cases of suspected sexual abuse. Where the authorities were satisfied that a particular individual had committed the acts complained of, he was encouraged to apply for a dispensation instead of having to undergo the dismissal procedure.

6.78This method of dispensation was also employed in cases where the dismissal procedure had been instituted and the General Council had taken the decision to dismiss the Brother but the decree of dismissal had not been issued. The Brother would be invited to pre-empt the dismissal by applying for voluntary dispensation and could leave the Congregation without stigma.

6.79If a Brother was accused of a serious offence under Canon Law or the rules of the Congregation, and the authorities were satisfied as to the truth of the allegation, but the Brother refused to apply for a dispensation, they were left with no option other than to institute formal dismissal proceedings. A perpetually professed Brother could not be dismissed unless he had committed an ‘external grave delict’, had received two warnings about his conduct and had failed to correct his behaviour. These admonitions were known as Canonical Warnings, and the immediate major Superior administered them personally or had them administered by a colleague acting on his instructions. The warning was composed of two parts: the first was a call to correct the offending activity and to do the appropriate penances; and the second was a threat of dismissal. In addition, the Superior was ‘bound’ under Canon Law to remove the offending Brother ‘from the occasion of relapse even by transfer if it is necessary to another house where vigilance is easier and the occasion of delinquency is more remote’. The Canon Law set out what constituted a ‘grave delict’ and it included sexual offences against minors. The rules required that each of the three offences must have been of the same type, or, if different, have been ‘of such a nature that when taken together they manifest the perversity of the will resolved on evil’. The rules also provided that one continuous offence could give rise to dismissal if it ‘from repeated admonitions, has virtually become threefold’.

6.80If a Brother had been issued with two Canonical Warnings and had committed a third delict, his case was forwarded to the Superior General and the General Council, who then considered whether he should be dismissed. The Brother was given the opportunity to defend himself, and Canon Law required that his responses be entered in the records. The General Council then voted on whether the Brother should be dismissed. If a majority of the votes was in favour of dismissal, the Superior General issued a formal decree of dismissal, which was forwarded to the Holy See for confirmation. The Brother had a right to appeal the decision to the Holy See. Even if the dismissal was confirmed, the Brother remained bound by his religious vows until he applied for, and was granted, a dispensation by the Holy See.

6.81Canon Law and the Constitutions of the Congregation also provided for immediate dismissal in the case of ‘grave external scandal, or of serious imminent injury to the Community’. In this situation the decree of dismissal was issued by the Provincial with the consent of his Council, or ‘if there is danger in delay’ by the local Superior with the consent of his Council and the Local Bishop. The case was then forwarded to the Holy See for judgment.9

6.82The dismissal process which took place in the General Council, and which was often described as a canonical trial, is different from the formal canonical trial provided for in the Code of Canon Law, which describes the procedure for the dismissal of religious priests or members of non-exempt religious orders, and the procedure for the dismissal of members of diocesan congregations.

How Brothers were transferred

6.83The Congregation was a large national organisation that moved its members around periodically. The regularity with which Brothers were moved depended on the functions they performed and where they were working. Teaching Brothers were moved more regularly than Coadjutor Brothers.

6.84Industrial schools were perceived as hardship postings and they had a high turnover of staff. The vow of obedience meant that Brothers had to accept their postings no matter how unpleasant they found them to be.

6.85Young Brothers were often appointed to teaching positions in industrial schools. The posting of Brothers happened at the same time each year, at the start of a new academic year. Brothers transferred outside of this period often excited comment, because the sudden transferring of a Brother could signal a serious punishment. No contemporaneous information exists concerning the criteria that were used to assess the suitability of Brothers for particular postings. However, the records of the Congregation show that, on a number of occasions, individuals who were accused of sexual abuse were transferred to other residential or day schools. In some cases, Brothers who had been sexually abusing children were, in their later careers, appointed to senior positions within the Province. When asked at the Phase I hearing for Letterfrack how this had happened, Br Gibson explained that, because the leadership in the Congregation changed every 12 years, there was no memory within the organisation of offences committed before that. He acknowledged that there was a personal file for each Brother and concluded that these files were not consulted in making appointments.

6.86If Br Gibson’s theory is correct, it means either that the Provincial Council made its decision to fill senior posts without reference to the Brother’s history or to his personal file, or that the Council made its assignment in the knowledge of the man’s previous trouble.

Impact of religious life on institutional care


6.87Christian Brothers took the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, as well as two additional vows, namely ‘perseverance in the congregation’, and, for teaching Brothers, ‘teaching the poor gratuitously’. They differed in this regard from the Coadjutor Brothers, who did not teach, and whose commitment was to domestic chores in communities.


6.88The vow of poverty required Brothers to deprive themselves of the right of disposing of anything of monetary value without the permission of their Superiors. They were not allowed to accept, take or retain anything for themselves save what they were allowed by their Superiors. They were required to give to the Congregation whatever they acquired by their industry or ability while under temporary or perpetual vows.


6.89Constitution 87 relates to the vow of chastity. It ‘not only obliges the Brothers to celibacy, but also imposes upon them the obligation of avoiding everything contrary to the sixth10 and ninth11 Commandments of God’12. In addition to the injunctions against adultery and coveting one’s neighbour’s wife, the Brothers were to restrict communication with women to a minimum. Constitution 89 spelled out what was required:

The Brothers, in their interviews with the mothers or female friends of their pupils and in all conversations with females, must observe great reserve and modesty and make the conversations as brief as possible.

6.90Constitution 91 deals with relations between Brothers and their pupils. It states:

Whilst the Brothers should cherish an affection for all their pupils especially the poor, they are forbidden to manifest a particular friendship for any of them. They must not fondle their pupils; and unless duty and necessity should require it, a Brother must never be alone with a pupil.13

6.91The meaning of the word ‘fondle’ was discussed during the public hearings into Letterfrack Industrial School, when Br Gibson, on behalf of the Congregation, argued that the word did not have a sexual connotation, notwithstanding its location in the chapter of the Constitutions dealing with chastity.

6.92A circular letter from the Superior General, Br P. J. Hennessy, in 1926 went into the nature of the vow of chastity in some detail. He wrote:

In a discourse on “The Education of the Child”, Pere Lacordaire says: “It is necessary, above all, to love one’s pupil: to love him in God, not with a weak and sensual affection, but with a sincere affection which knows how to preserve firmness”.

The child’s spiritual endowments and the end to which he is destined naturally cause the thoughtful religious to “love him in God”, while his natural charms tend to excite that “weak and sensual affection” that may easily prove to be ruinous to the child and teacher. Here is a DANGER SIGNAL that should never be lowered and should ever be heeded. The teacher who allows himself any softness in his intercourse with his pupil, who does not repress the tendency to “pets”, who fondles the young or indulges in other weaknesses, is not heeding the danger signal and may easily fall. Disastrous results for teacher and pupil have sometimes resulted from such heedlessness and effeminacy. Chapter VIII, Part I, of our Constitutions in its different articles, sets forth salutary precautions in this connection.

6.93Assertions by some members of the Congregation that they had no awareness of the possibility of Brothers sexually abusing boys were not supported by the Acts of Chapter or the documentation.

6.94Br Hennessy went on to exhort teachers to impress on their pupils the importance of purity:

They must rigidly refrain from all unnecessary freedoms with their persons at all times. In bed they ought to fold their arms over their breasts in the form of a cross, and before falling asleep pray to their Guardian Angel to preserve them from every dangerous thought or act during the night.

6.95As early as 1887, the Superior General was explicit in pointing out the danger of sexual activity amongst the boys:

With vigilance in the playground is intimately connected watchfulness in regard to the conduct of boys in and about the water-closets … Much harm may be done, and sin not unfrequently committed, in those places, if the necessary precautions be not taken, and if wholesome discipline be not strictly enforced … A serious responsibility rests on the Brothers in this matter, if through their carelessness or want of proper caution any of their pupils should come to learn evil they knew not before.

6.96Although these advices were sent out to all Communities, they do not appear to have formed part of the training Brothers received. Some Brothers spoke of their lack of any awareness of the possibility of peer abuse among the boys in their care. The Committee heard evidence, however, that peer abuse was a constant and serious problem in industrial schools.


6.97The vow of obedience required Brothers to obey their Superiors in all things that pertained, directly or indirectly, to the life of the Congregation, as well as their vows and the Constitutions of the Congregation. They owed their entire obedience to the Superior General of the Congregation and to their immediate Superiors. The reason for this total obedience was explained as follows:

The motive of obedience should be the spirit of faith whereby the Brothers consider their Superiors as the representatives of Jesus Christ in their regard; hence they must always show them honour, esteem and reverence.14

6.98This vow of obedience permeated every aspect of life within the Congregation and was something the Brothers and former Brothers who gave evidence to the Committee spoke about at length. Apart from the obvious implications of the vow, the main way in which it affected Brothers was in their interactions with their seniors, in particular their reluctance to criticise them. The chapters on specific schools disclose cases where the obligation to be subject to the will of the Superior and to serve the interests of the Congregation discouraged or prevented Brothers from reporting abuse, or making protests about objectionable behaviour, or even making suggestions as to improvements. In some circumstances, it inhibited the reporting of suspicions about sexual misconduct on the part of other Brothers.

6.99The importance of the vow is emphasised by Constitution 62, which requires the General Council to be careful not to admit to the profession of vows by any Brother who in his conduct shows a ‘want of submission, and due respect for, those placed over him’ or a ‘litigious and critical spirit’. A Brother who deviated from this duty to obey was quickly reminded of his position. One former Brother described his experience of obedience thus:

I think the vow of obedience was conceived of as being partly like military discipline. Indeed, the priests who gave the Brothers their retreats and so on, and the 30-day retreat we had in the novitiate, all from Jesuits, and they’d famously have a military metaphor for what they’d do. I think there was a certain amount of that, this was like the army and you just obey.

But that’s not what I understood as the vow of obedience, I think the vow of obedience was an internal – if I can use the kind of language that I think would have learned – an internal resignation of your will to the will of your Superior. The most important thing about obedience was not what you did but how you thought. I certainly would have believed that when I was that age, yes.

6.100The same witness described some of the more unusual ways in which obedience was tested while the Novices were in training. He recalled how Novices were made to walk about with no coats or hats in bad weather, and he went on to describe one incident when he was put to the test. He told the Committee:

The one I remember in terms of work was being told to move a pile of stones in part of the garden, I think, an old shrubbery from there to literally the far side of the table and spending several days doing it with an old wheelbarrow, when it was all finished he came around and said, “That is very good now. Excellent. Now would you move them all back again please”. You were meant to say, “certainly, Brother”, which I did being a very good boy…. It was a bit silly really but we just accepted it.

6.101This unnecessary labour had a function: it was an exercise in discipline and obedience. The vow of obedience taken by all perpetually professed Brothers required them to obey their legitimate superiors. The Superior was empowered to impose ‘such penances or humiliations as his faults or the usage of the Community may require.’15

6.102The Brothers and former Brothers who gave evidence recounted a number of examples of the punishments, often humiliating, that were meted out to Brothers who disobeyed. A number of respondent witnesses described how their Superiors verbally admonished them. Discipline seemed to be harder on the younger Brothers.


6.103Brothers were required to exercise discipline in their daily lives. They rose early for prayer and Mass, and were required according to the rules of the Congregation to live an asectic and spiritual life with few comforts. They practised fasting, and mortification of the flesh, in order to perfect their communion with God. Visitation Reports contained long and detailed accounts of the Brothers’ religious observances, and any laxity on the part of the Superior in enforcing the Rule was a matter for comment.

Retirement from the world

6.104The Christian Brothers were obliged ‘not to maintain any intercourse with externs’ without permission from their immediate Superior. Brothers were not allowed to read newspapers, listen to the radio, visit friends or attend outside functions or sporting events without express permission. Walks had to be taken in the company of at least one other Brother.

6.105Correspondence from lay people, particularly containing complaint or criticism, was treated with suspicion and hostility. The documents revealed an anxiety on the part of the Congregation to avoid scandal or adverse comment, which dominated its relationship with the outside world.

6.106The injunction against undue familiarity with lay people was even more strictly enforced in the case of women. Brothers were instructed to keep all conversations with mothers or female friends of the children in their care to the minimum. One consequence of this was that the Christian Brothers’ institutions became all-male worlds. Numerous witnesses gave evidence to the Investigation Committee about the problems caused by the lack of female involvement in the day-to-day operation of the schools.

Modesty and silence

6.107According to Chapter XIII of the 1923 Constitutions, ‘The Brothers shall observe silence at all hours out of recreation. If, however, duty or necessity require a Brother to speak at such times, he should do so as briefly as possible and in a subdued tone’. This necessity for silence affected the general atmosphere of the schools and was often imposed on the children as well as the Brothers. Justice Cussen16 was particularly critical of the practice of imposing silence during meal times and recommended that it be discontinued. Some complainants recalled silence during mealtimes into the 1950s, and many recalled that there was a general rule of silence when moving through the building and in the dormitories at night.

6.108A consultant psychiatrist who regularly visited Artane in the 1960s told the Committee:

On average my general impression, well; with the greatest respect to everybody, it was a daunting institution. The abiding impression I had was that during the school hours my biding impression was the silence. The silence. So you had all these children, young boys, and virtually not a sound.

6.109In his evidence to the Committee, he said, ‘it was one of an intimidatory type of silence’.

6.110Numerous complainants spoke of the insistence on silence in the daily tasks of eating and preparing for bed. Silence was a rule strictly adhered to in everyday life. Whistles were used in some cases to signal to the children when they were to move from one activity to the next.

6.111There were several warnings in the Visitation Reports referring to the neglect of the rule of silence in the school.

Impact of vows on institutional life

6.112The adherence by the Christian Brothers to their vows, and the monitoring of such adherence by senior Brothers, led to the application of these principles to the day-to-day care of the children. The virtues of obedience, chastity and hard work had to be inculcated in the children for the good of their souls, and for the good of society as a whole.

6.113Obedience and discipline were part of the life of the institutions. The daily timetable provided the framework for a closely controlled and well-orchestrated routine. The whole system was regimented, but Artane with its large numbers was particularly so.

6.114The regimentation and discipline were needed not just to keep order: it was, the Christian Brothers believed, a necessary lesson to be learned by boys who had never been properly controlled by their parents.

6.115There were, however, doubts within the Congregation about the efficacy of the industrial school regime as the best way to prepare children to become upright and decent citizens in a Christian society. These reservations were sometimes expressed in Visitation Reports but were not acted upon by the authorities.

6.116This concern, that the needs of the boys were not being met by the school, clashed with the philosophy of the Congregation and the way of life they advocated for themselves. The boys needed to be prepared for the day ‘when they pass through Artane gates into the wide world’, but the Brothers needed to keep their minds on the spiritual way of life and withdraw from that wide world.

6.117The importance of all the vows taken by the Brothers was emphasised in a circular letter dated 3rd October 1958 from the Superior General to each Christian Brothers’ Community. The Superior General wrote:

It is evident that in many of the houses of our Province the rule of silence is not being well observed. The observance of silence has always been regarded as essential to the Religious Life …

Silence is necessary for the practice of recollection without which there can be no spirit of prayer or true holiness of life…

The cause of these defections [from the Brothers] is to be found in the loss of the religious spirit due to such secularizing influences as too great intercourse with externs, frequenting places of public resort and undue preoccupation with the news of the day.

Our rule warns us against the danger to vocation of holding too great intercourse with externs. The sentiments and outlook of people who live in the world are, of necessity, very different from those of religious. A Brother who frequents the company of seculars either by visiting them in their homes or by holding long and unnecessary conversations with teachers, parents, or domestics will be in danger of imbibing the spirit of the world and losing his esteem for his vocation …

Too great preoccupation with the newspaper or with radio programmes can also be a cause of the loss of the religious spirit by diverting attention from the affairs of the soul and diminishing interest in the spiritual life.

6.118These are values for a spiritual life of religious meditation, but they do not form a basis for training young boys to enter the outside world.

6.119To counteract the attraction of the outside world the Brothers lived a life of religious and secular study. It was not surprising that they applied the same way of life to the boys in their care. Through moral teaching, religious observance and hard work in the school and in the workshops, they sought to change and reform the children. Young boys from poor families were confronted with this regime, and found it arduous. It not merely clashed with the culture from which they came, but it placed them in an all-male world that did not meet the emotional and developmental needs of children and adolescents.

6.120The strict regime, the routine that took away all initiative and placed all its emphasis on following orders, led to the boys becoming institutionalised. Many left to join the army, or drifted into other institutionalised occupations, and far too many ended up in institutions like prisons or in psychiatric care.

Evidence of Brothers

6.121A recurrent complaint made by Brothers in their evidence to the Committee and found in the documentation was the unequal division of work.

6.122In his evidence at the public hearing into Letterfrack during Phase I, Br Gibson stated:

You see the Brothers who were teaching in the school, who were mainly the young Brothers, they were with the boys almost 24 hours a day; in other words, from 6:00 to 10:00 at night. They would have had very little free time during that period. They slept then in small bedrooms at the end of one of the dormitories. Often those rooms were very simple. There wasn’t heating for a lot of the time. That was their place of living and then they went up to the house for a short period of recreation at night-time, but effectively speaking they were on the job seven days a week.

6.123The vow of obedience made it difficult for these Brothers to voice their disquiet. Junior Brothers were in awe of their seniors in the Community. Each Community that operated an industrial school had senior Brothers who did not work in the school or act as carers but who nevertheless exercised authority and influence over those who fulfilled those arduous duties. Many Brothers spoke of how they resented this unequal burden of labour when they were juniors in the institutions, but felt they could not challenge the system by asking the senior Brothers to do more. Some junior Brothers felt that, because of their lack of seniority, there was no point making suggestions for reform.

6.124Many of the Brothers who gave evidence complained about the difficulties they had in carrying out the onerous dual responsibilities of teaching and caring, which inevitably had an adverse effect on the children.

The failure to train Brothers in childcare

6.125In their Opening Statement on Tralee, the Christian Brothers defined the purpose of industrial schools as being:

To cater especially for neglected, orphaned and abandoned children, to safeguard them from developing criminal tendencies and to prepare them for industry.

6.126To achieve this end, children were removed from the backgrounds of neglect and poverty, given a basic education and were taught a trade. In the process, it was believed that they were improved by hard work and religious observance. These objectives remained central to the Christian Brothers’ thinking, and became the basis of the training given to the new recruits. The teaching Brothers were trained as national school teachers, and received no special training in childcare. Many Brothers deplored this fact.

6.127The Brothers explained that this failure to give specialist training was due to the fact that ‘there existed no special training system in Ireland for carers in Industrial Schools’ and that there was no awareness of the emotional needs of children. They had a ‘physical care philosophy’.

6.128In fact, ideas on how to provide better care were being developed abroad. As early as 1943, Dr Anna McCabe, the Medical Inspector of Industrial Schools, attended a course in England and recommended the establishment of a child guidance clinic, but her advice was ignored. The Carysfort Conference of 1951 revealed that there was expertise in the State on care issues. Members of the Sisters of Charity went to England to do Home Office courses and returned with schemes to reorganise the system of care homes they provided.

6.129No such training was undertaken by the Christian Brothers until, in the early 1970s, Br Burcet17, who had worked in senior positions in both Letterfrack and Artane, attended the course in the School of Education in Kilkenny in 1973, and implemented some of what he had learned in the last remaining industrial school operated by the Brothers, Salthill. He recalled his frustration in Artane in the mid-1960s when he was trying to change teaching methods and to introduce psychological expertise. He felt that he was engaged in an uphill struggle and that there was no understanding of the importance of this kind of approach among the Leadership of the Congregation.

6.130New ideas had the potential to undermine the institutions and the Brothers who worked in them. It was this fear of change that ensured that the institutions run by the Christian Brothers remained, in all essential respects, unchanged from their foundation in the 19th century to their closure.

6.131One effect of the belief that teacher training and the religious way of life were an adequate basis for training and caring for children was that the Christian Brothers never passed on their expertise in a formal way. They were experienced in dealing with boys in institutions; their own members had taught and cared for boys for years. They should have been in a position to pass on information and advice to those coming after them, yet they produced no written texts, nor did they give formal lectures on the subject even to their own members. Brothers testified that they were given no guidance on childcare issues during their training in Marino. Brothers learned techniques of control from older Brothers, in an ad hoc way.

6.132It is unfortunate that a Congregation dedicated to the education of the poor never devised a system of education for their own members, which would have prepared them for the demanding care work they did in these schools, in addition to their teaching duties.

How the Brothers responded to the allegations of abuse

6.133During the Investigation Committee’s Emergence hearings, Br David Gibson, then Province Leader of St Mary’s Province of the Christian Brothers, outlined the response of the Congregation to the issue of child abuse in Ireland.

6.134He said that allegations of child abuse first arose as an issue in the 1980s, when four allegations of child abuse were made against Irish Christian Brothers. Following an official inquiry into child abuse at an orphanage run by the Congregation at Mount Cashel in Canada, the Canadian Leadership highlighted the issue at the 1990 General Chapter of the Congregation. The Province Leader from Canada presented a graphic picture of what it was like to have to deal with allegations from the past in a public inquiry and the subsequent litigation under the full glare of media exposure. He also referred to the need to look at institutions and the protocols that were in place to deal with the issue of abuse.

6.135After the General Chapter concluded, the Congregation leader urged its various Provinces to issue guidelines and protocols on child protection. The leadership teams of the Irish Provinces drew up guidelines based on international best practice and published them in 1993.

6.136Between 1990 and 1996 the Congregation received approximately 30 allegations of child abuse. Because of these complaints and the increasing publicity, the Congregation established an independent advisory group to which it passed the complaints, and received advice on how to respond. A further 52 complaints were received between 1996 and the Christian Brother Public Apology issued in March 1998.

6.137Br Gibson said that the Congregation had great difficulty in coming to terms with the fact that Brothers could have abused children. ‘It was something totally contrary to the whole vocation of a Brother and yet we were getting detailed accounts of how Brothers abused children’. It had particular difficulty in accepting that members of its Congregation had engaged in sexual abuse, ‘[This] was creating the greatest problem and difficulty for us to come to terms with’.

6.138It is difficult to understand why allegations of abuse should have come as such a shock to the Congregation. The documentation made available to this Committee disclosed that allegations of child abuse, and particularly child sexual abuse, were a recurring and persistent problem for the Congregation.

6.139In 1995, St Mary’s Province organised seminars about the nature of child abuse which were conducted by Dr Art O’Connor, a consultant Forensic Psychiatrist in the Central Mental Hospital, and Ms Kate Keery, a social worker from Temple Street Children’s Hospital, and they were attended by individual Brothers. A similar exercise was carried out in the Southern Province.

6.140Child abuse was a major issue at the 1996 General Chapter of the Congregation, which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Chapter issued a document entitled ‘New Beginnings with Edmund’ in which it stated:

There are signs of that death [in not living the Gospel vision] in our congregational story. Such signs include undue severity of discipline, harshness in Community life, child abuse, an addiction to success, canonizing work to the neglect of our basic human needs for intimacy, leisure and love. To-day we have been made painfully aware of these aspects of our sinful history.

6.141The Congregation appointed a full-time Director of Child Protection Services, and set up an office called the Westcourt Child Protection Service to deal with allegations of abuse.

6.142On 14th April 1997, on the occasion of his receiving the Freedom of Drogheda, the Congregation Leader, Br Edmund Garvey, expressed an apology and asked for forgiveness from former pupils who had suffered abuse at any of the schools or institutions run by the Congregation.

6.143In October 1997 the Congregation asked Dr Robert Grant, a psychotherapist, to come to Ireland to speak to the Brothers and school principals on the issue of child protection and abuse. During its meetings with Dr Grant, the Leadership Teams considered making a public apology acknowledging certain failures on the part of the Congregation and expressing a willingness to meet with complainants and to deal with their complaints.

6.144According to Br Gibson:

He [Dr Grant] was emphasising the need to really take this on board, that child abuse had taken place in our institutions. Through his help but also from our own realisation of this, we felt the time had come to make some form of apology.

6.145In order to consider what form the apology should take, the Leadership held a retreat in November 1997 and invited an Australian Brother, Br Paul Noonan, to attend. Br Noonan had been leader of the Melbourne Province in Australia when it responded to allegations of child abuse in Australian Christian Brothers’ institutions and had issued its own apology in 1993. Br Noonan outlined the impact of the apology and encouraged the Irish Provinces to follow suit. The Australian apology included the following:

We have studied the allegations available to us, and we have made our own independent inquiries. The evidence is such as to convince us that abuses did take place, abuses that in some cases went well beyond the tough conditions and treatment that were part of life in such institutions in those days.

While the extent of the abuse appears to have been exaggerated in some quarters, the fact that such physical and sexual abuse took place at all in some of our institutions cannot be excused and is for us a source of deep shame and regret. Such abuse violates the child’s dignity and sense of self worth. It causes psychological and social trauma that can lead to lasting wounds of guilt, shame, insecurity and problems in relationships.

6.146There followed a paragraph entitled ‘Our Apology’, which read as follows:

We, the Christian Brothers of today, therefore unreservedly apologise to those individuals who were victims of abuse in these institutions.

We do not condone in any way the behaviour of individual Brothers who may have perpetrated such abuse.

In apologising, however, we entreat people not to reflect adversely on the majority of Brothers and their co-workers of the era who went about their work with integrity and deep regard for the children entrusted to their care.

Their work and dedication are reflected in the numerous students who, despite deprived backgrounds, went on to take their places as successful members of Australian society. We are deeply grateful for the very many expressions of thanks and support we have had from former students.

6.147Br Gibson said that the Irish Leadership Team decided to issue a public statement:

because we felt that there was a need for healing and we felt that no healing would be possible unless we were prepared to accept the fact that it happened, number one, and to say that we know it happened, we are sorry it happened and to be open and honest with that.

6.148He added that the Congregation intended its public statement to be more than an apology: it was to set out various mechanisms to promote healing, such as mediation, counselling and reconciliation. The leaders engaged in a widespread consultative process before issuing the apology. It met with individual Brothers, the advisory group, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI), the Government and legal experts. The statement was issued on 29th March 1998 and read:

Over the past number of years we have received from some former pupils serious complaints of ill-treatment and abuse by some Christian Brothers in schools and residential centres.

We the Christian Brothers in Ireland wish to express our deep regret to anyone who suffered ill-treatment while in our care. And we say to you who have experienced physical or sexual abuse by a Christian Brother and to you who complained of abuse and were not listened to, we are deeply sorry.

We want to do much more than say we are sorry. As an initial step we have already put in place a range of services to offer a practical response and further services will be provided as the needs become clearer.

6.149The Congregation subsequently received a further 260 complaints which ranged from ‘allegations of a harsh regime or of inadequate schooling to very serious allegations of abuse’. In consultation with the independent advisory group, the leadership teams asked 18 individual Brothers against whom allegations were made and who remained in active Ministry to withdraw from work. Three subsequently returned to work.

6.150The Congregation in 1998 established an independent pastoral service, to respond to the needs of those alleging abuse and to provide practical and financial support to those coming forward, but did not proceed with a mediation and conciliation scheme on the advice of a task force.

6.151Another part of the Brothers’ reaction to the issue was its contribution to the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme. In its statement to the Commission prior to the Emergence Hearings, the Congregation stated that it had wished to make ‘a meaningful contribution’ to the scheme, but this decision was not based on a sense of culpability or negligence but on a pastoral desire to bring healing and closure. Other reasons included:

  • A greater number of former residents would get redress from the scheme than they would through the courts;
  • The experience would be less adversarial and less stressful;
  • The money would go directly to the former residents;
  • It would be faster than the courts; and
  • The scheme would be set up on a statutory basis.

6.152Br Gibson described a change in attitude in the Congregation following the ‘States of Fear’18 television programmes in 1999 and the publication of Suffer the Little Children19 in 2000, when the Brothers became more sceptical and disbelieving of claims of abuse. He said that the Congregation was ‘alerted … to the danger of exaggerated allegations, false claims, and false memory’. It believed that many of the allegations contained in the programme and book were ‘inaccurate and grossly exaggerated’, and the Leadership Teams became concerned that ‘every allegation was being viewed as the absolute truth’. The Congregation also complained that their submissions were not taken into account by the Government in the drafting of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Act, 2000. ‘The Act that was passed failed to provide protection to those who could be wrongfully accused.’

6.153This account of the Brothers’ odyssey on abuse, particularly sexual and physical, traces their journey from shock and dismay at the allegations, through a period of acceptance, which gave way ultimately to scepticism and suspicion, which were the characteristics of the stance taken by the Congregation in the Investigation Committee’s proceedings.

6.154A closer examination of the Brothers’ March 1998 public statement of apology shows that it was not at all apparent what conduct was regretted. The ‘formal apology’, instead of making clear the Congregation’s regret for abuse that had happened in its institutions, gave rise to considerable problems of interpretation and called into question the nature of their attitude to the complaints. Indeed, it was not even clear that the statement could properly be called an apology. It did not expressly acknowledge that abuse had occurred and did not accept any Congregational responsibility for what had taken place in its institutions.

6.155If the Brothers intended this document to have substantial meaning, they should have made it clear that they were apologising for abuse that they believed and accepted had happened. This they notably failed to do. A public apology that required scrutiny to discover whether it actually contained a meaningful expression of regret failed in its purpose.

6.156This first public step that was taken by the Brothers was couched in guarded, conditional and unclear terms, and did not actually acknowledge that Christian Brothers had committed abuse of children in their care or that the Congregation bore any responsibility. This was before ‘States of Fear’ was broadcast in 1999 which was, according to Br Gibson, the catalyst for a more defensive approach by the Congregation.

6.157The statement compared unfavourably with the Australian version, which may have some difficulties of interpretation but which did expressly admit that abuse happened and apologised to victims.

6.158The Australian Brothers also stated that they had conducted their own independent inquiries, which had yielded convincing evidence. If the Irish branch had examined the records and consulted members and former Brothers, it would also have discovered convincing evidence that serious cases of abuse had occurred in the Irish institutions.

Rome Files and documentary evidence

6.159In the Emergence hearings in July 2004, Br Gibson described how files, which came to be known as ‘The Rome Files’, came to the attention of the Leadership Team in Ireland.

6.160In 2003, the Leadership Team took the decision to employ an archivist to look at all the documents in the possession of the Congregation. This archivist was asked to go to Rome to look at the files there that related to the Irish Communities for any references to abuse. He explained that, in the early 1960s, a decision was taken to move the Congregation’s headquarters from Dublin to Rome. The management team brought with them the relevant archives for their own work, and left in Ireland the files and records that dealt with the Christian Brothers in Ireland.

6.161Br Gibson explained:

However, when our archivist went to Rome, she came across their minute books of their Council decisions, the General Council decisions. In those, she came across details of allegations of abuse in the institutions in Ireland that did not exist in our files … Yes, all of these dealt with incidents of child abuse in our institutions between, say, 1930 and when they closed.

6.162Br Gibson outlined the number of allegations recorded in respect of residential schools:

… we came across details of incidents of abuse in our institutions in Ireland. We came across eleven incidents of child abuse in Artane, ten in our day schools, three in Letterfrack, two in Tralee, two in the OBI,20 and two in Glin. Now, what we came across was that there had been information given to the Leadership Team at the time when they occurred. These allegations had been investigated. The investigation included getting the boys to write out what had happened to them and the boys had done that in some cases – well, in one case at the moment we have one incident of that. Then they had at the end of what they called a trial, they had a decision made, and the decision was either to give a Canonical Warning to the person, they were dismissed from the Congregation or they were rejected for the application for vows that year. Now, we wouldn’t have the details of all the allegations, but a lot of material has emerged there which we didn’t know about …

It shows that there were individual cases of abuse. It wasn’t, in a sense, systematic or widespread, but over 30 years in Artane there were eleven cases that had been discovered at the time they had occurred.

6.163Br Gibson went on to state that, in 1990, the Leadership Team in Ireland was not aware of the existence of these files at all. He asserted that it was only when he saw these files that he understood the comments that he saw in the Constitutions and Acts of the Congregation emphasising that a Brother should never be alone with a child. He said:

That makes sense in the light of this discovery of complaints where children were abused in the institutions.

6.164He confirmed that there was no mention of the children in these records:

The focus was on the culpability of the person who did it and I am not sure how much was done for the children who suffered.

6.165The Rome Files were made available to the Committee after the Emergence hearings had been completed. They contained details of applications for dispensations or disciplinary hearings in respect of more than 130 Brothers. At least 40 of these cases referred specifically to improper conduct with boys. In the majority of cases, the actual crime being investigated was not detailed, and phrases such as ‘evidenced unsuitable moral character’ or ‘grave misconduct’ or ‘caused scandal’ were used when recommending a dispensation.

6.166The Rome Files were by no means exhaustive. Brothers who left the Congregation before any allegations came to the attention of the authorities would not appear in the Rome Files.

6.167In addition, the Brothers who left following allegations of abuse did not appear in these files. For example, Mr Brander21 a former Christian Brother, did not feature although he received a Canonical Warning for sexually abusing boys in 1953 and was ultimately dispensed from his vows in the late 1950s.

6.168The Rome Files make it impossible to contend that the issue of abuse and, in particular, sexual abuse of boys was not an urgent and continuing concern to the Congregation. In circumstances where the issue of abuse in institutions had been the object of so much media attention from 1995 onwards, it is surprising that these files were only discovered to the Committee in 2004.

6.169The scale of the problem as revealed in these documents was very serious. When other features of abuse are taken into account, there is reason to believe that the amount of such abuse was substantially greater than is disclosed in these records. First, there was the recidivistic nature of child abuse; secondly, children were frightened and reluctant to speak about it; and thirdly, many adults experienced difficulty in dealing with it.

6.170In light of the investigations that had taken place in other jurisdictions and the evidence contained in their own archives, together with the complaints received, the Leadership Team in this country could be in no doubt that sexual abuse of children in their care had occurred at an unacceptably high level in their institutions.

6.171In the circumstances, although it was legitimate to protest about exaggerated allegations and false claims, which were undoubtedly made in some instances, it was also the case that an attitude of scepticism and distrust of all complaints was unwarranted and unjustified.

The Congregation and the Commission

6.172The Christian Brothers, like every other Congregation coming to the investigation, had to decide what position to adopt on the various issues that arose including:

  • The quality of life generally for the children in its institutions;
  • How it would approach the issue of whether abuse of children took place in the institutions; and
  • How it would conduct itself at the private hearings.

The Christian Brothers on the nature and quality of institutional life

6.173The apologies issued by the Christian Brothers of Australia and Ireland said nothing explicit about the nature and quality of life in their institutions. The evidence of the Irish Christian Brothers to the Investigation Committee helped to clarify their position on this matter.

6.174The Christian Brothers submitted that their schools provided positive experiences for the boys in them and that they offered a generally good standard of care, education and training when considered in the context of the time, having regard to shortages of resources and finance, and lack of training for the Brothers. Br Gibson expressed this in his evidence in Phase I of the Letterfrack hearings. He said:

I think also it is important to remember that we are talking about a time in the 40s, 50s and 60s where now there is a tendency to judge life at that time from the viewpoint of how life is now. What I would be hoping to show is that the Christian Brothers provided a very necessary service to the State in caring for children who themselves were marginalised. The financial support provided by the State will show that it was grossly under funded and that the Brothers had to go to enormous lengths to provide adequately for the needs of the pupils.

I suppose what we are pointing out in fact is that the funding level was very difficult and it meant that literally the Brothers had to provide a quality education and a care of children on funding that was very inadequate.

The emotional impact of residential care, and we will deal with that later on, was not really understood and certainly separation from home and from the family, however bad the home was, and unfortunately some of them were very inadequate, it wasn’t fully understood the impact of that on children separated from their families.

Well, I suppose what I would say is this: Brothers were trained to be teachers. There was no training for residential childcare. There was no State training, there was no State funding … I think the first course in childcare, serious course, was in Kilkenny in 1970 and one of our Brothers went on that course when it started. There wasn’t any form of childcare formation. There were occasional day courses or day seminars in childcare in the 1950s, but other than that there was no proper training available and certainly no funding for it. I would say the Brothers who went to these institutions were chosen specially, a lot of them were of the highest calibre.

6.175This view, that the emotional needs of children and the effects of residential care and separation from family were not really understood, was reiterated in the oral and written submissions made by the religious Communities. Issues raised in these submissions include the lack of any appreciation for the emotional needs of children in care, the inadequate funding from the State, and the lack of childcare training until the 1970s. Each of these is examined in the chapters dealing with individual institutions.

Philosophy of care

6.176The Congregation accepted that a focus on physical care was not sufficient to care for a child fully and properly, but they stressed the prevailing economic and legal climate in which the industrial schools operated as being the reason for this emphasis. In particular, they emphasised the extreme poverty of the country during the relevant period. They contended that there was no awareness anywhere prior to the early 1960s of the need for developmental or emotional care of children. The Closing Submission for Artane quoted one senior member of staff who served in Artane from 1954 to 1969:

I knew absolutely nothing about this, the philosophy of Artane when I was there was a physical care philosophy. Look after the health of the boys, look after their physical education, like by drill and so on. Look after their health and so on. But it was a physical education philosophy. There was no understanding and I had no understanding at the time about any kind of emotional education, psychological education, I had no understanding of that at the time.

6.177In 1927, the Superior General, Br P. J. Hennessy, set out the obligations on Superiors of orphanages, industrial schools and schools for the deaf and dumb:22

Because of their forlorn and afflicted condition, the children of our orphanages, industrial schools and schools for the deaf and dumb are specially dear to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord, and the Brothers who are assigned to labour in these schools may truly feel that they are specially privileged … Superiors and Brothers must hold in respect the inmates of these institutions, manifest sympathy in their lowliness and afflictions, and at all times treat them with consideration and kindness. Severity and sternness would produce ruinous results on the character of these afflicted ones.

The Superior, showing himself as a kind father, should set the standard of conduct to his Brothers in their regard. He should be generous in supplying their temporal needs – abundance of wholesome, well-prepared food of which pure milk should be a large constituent, decent clothing suitable to the season, tender care in their ailments, and kindly provision for their recreation and pastimes. He should, as far as he can, secure for them suitable employment when they must leave the school, and they should know that kindly sympathy in difficulties they may encounter after having left school will be gladly extended to them by Superiors and Brothers.

6.178The circular went on to recommend that the Superior should address the boys once a week and give guidance on the importance of cleanliness, truthfulness and honesty, and should impress upon them the meaning of ‘moral courage’ and the ‘love of truth’.

6.179Although the words ‘emotional care’ were not used, the obligation of love, respect and consideration for their vulnerability outlined by Br Hennessy encompassed much of what would now be regarded as ‘emotional care’. In advocating that the Superior ‘should set the standard of conduct to his Brothers’ by being ‘a kind father’, it is clear that the idea was to nurture children through love, kindness and good example, and not just through punishment for infringement of rules.

6.180The contention in the Opening Submission for Artane was that emotional needs were not considered at all in the caring of children, because such needs were not recognised in society as a whole. It was clear, however, from the Cussen Report which was published in 1936, and even from earlier Department of Education23 Annual Reports dating back to 1926, that the vulnerability of children who were removed from their parents and placed in care was recognised and understood well before the 1940s. These reports advocated the requirement for something more than mere physical care.

6.181The 1926 Department of Education Report stated:

When children have to depend entirely on a school for what their homes should give them, much more than efficient instruction and material comfort is of importance, and it will be obvious that, apart from arrangements for education and physical wants, there is good reason to avoid any exaction of a hard and fast uniformity in other phases of school activity and to encourage whatever may relieve the institutional features of such schools.24

6.182This Report went on to state:

Interwoven with all activities of the schools is the moral training of the pupils, each child’s circumstances having to be taken into account – physique, intelligence, habits, recreations, surroundings and the effect of home influences before and after the school period being recognised as factors in the formation of character. Individual tendencies are noted, and, together with character developments, are briefly recorded to enable responsible members of the staffs to draw out the best qualities and to overcome the weaknesses of their pupils as well as to aid managers in making prudent decisions for disposal on discharge.

6.183In 1936 the Cussen Report stated at paragraph 69:

It must be borne in mind that the children committed to these schools have been deprived of parental control, where such control existed, and that, in many cases they are children requiring special study and care. It is, therefore obvious, that the person in whose charge they have been placed should be carefully selected for the work which, because of its difficult and peculiar nature, demands qualifications and gifts that might not be considered indispensable in ordinary schools.

6.184The Congregation correctly pointed out that an emphasis on physical care was echoed in the Department of Education inspections. The inspection reports dealt with material and physical aspects of the care of the children with little mention of their emotional well-being. Emotional well-being could have been assessed by talking to the children and the Department Inspectors did not generally do this.

6.185The Christian Brothers stated that the failure of the Department to address this aspect of the work being carried out ‘… gives an indication of how even at that time, the Department viewed the purpose and function of industrial schools’.

6.186The Department of Education’s Annual Report for 1924–1925 set out its function:

These schools came under the control of the Department of Education on 1st June 1924. The function of the Department is to certify that the schools are fit for the reception of the young persons and children committed to them. This is carried out by inspection and while the Certificate is in force, State contributions in the form of Capitation Grants are made towards the maintenance of the inmates.25

6.187The Report went on to state:

In Saorstát Éireann all Reformatory and Industrial Schools are conducted by voluntary managers, who own the Schools and are responsible for the upkeep of the buildings, the appointment of the staff, the expenditure of the funds and all details of the school management.

6.188The Department did not assert control over the daily management of the schools or the way in which care was provided. The Department was at fault because it failed to supervise the institutions to ensure that the emotional needs of the children, which it had recognised from 1925, were being met. That did not exempt the Congregation from responsibility for its own failure in this regard. Moreover, the Christian Brothers had been educating children and managing industrial schools since the preceding century and were therefore, in a position to identify the failings of the system and to address them.

The Christian Brothers’ position on whether abuse occurred in their schools

Physical abuse

6.189Br Reynolds gave evidence in public to the Investigation Committee on 15th September 2005 regarding Artane. He prefaced his evidence with his general view that the picture presented of Artane from the late 1980s through media coverage and publicity was largely negative and seriously unbalanced. He stressed the need for balance because, ‘the Congregation’s position is that Artane in the whole and in the round was a very positive institution’.

6.190This was a position adopted in the Submissions in respect of the four Christian Brothers’ schools examined in detail by the Committee.

6.191The basic stance that their institutions were not abusive and provided a positive experience for the boys led Br Reynolds to be sceptical of evidence to the contrary. As far as the Congregation were concerned, when something was documented it was more likely to make some concessions but not otherwise. An example of this was when he was asked about boys being punished for bed-wetting. Even though individual Brothers had conceded that this occurred and many ex-residents had testified about their experience, he was unable to accept that punishment for bed-wetting was a feature of life in industrial schools: ‘Yes, they may have happened in instances, and all I am saying is I haven’t any documentary evidence’.

6.192Evidence from Brothers and ex-Brothers was regarded as potentially fallible unless backed up by documentation. For this reason, in preparing their Submissions, the Congregation stated that they took no account of the statements of complaints made by former pupils. They confined themselves for this exercise to the archive material. He accepted that they had cross-checked documented evidence with people in the Congregation as a separate exercise, but these results did not form part of the public statement, and were a matter for private hearings. He was challenged about the limited picture that the 11 instances documented in their records for Artane gave of the situation, and his response was that he depended only on what he could find in the documentation and these were presented to the Commission, and thereafter it was up to the Committee to decide.

6.193On the issue of corporal punishment, the Christian Brothers submitted that the industrial schools were no different from other schools in that they all accepted the use of corporal punishment.

Rules and regulations governing corporal punishment

6.194The official rules and regulations governing corporal punishment are set out above. For the convenience of the reader they are repeated in this section. There were two sets of rules for the use of corporal punishment, one consisting of the rules and regulations produced by the Department of Education,26 and the other was set down by the Congregation.

6.195The 1933 Department of Education Rules and Regulations for Certified Industrial Schools were aimed at reducing corporal punishment to a minimum and to controlling as far as possible such punishments as were inflicted. Regulation 13 stated:

Punishment shall consist of:—

  1. Forfeiture of rewards and privileges, or degradation from rank, previously attained by good conduct.
  2. Moderate childish punishment with the hand.
  3. Chastisement with the cane, strap or birch.

Referring to (c) personal chastisement may be inflicted by the Manager, or, in his presence, by an Officer specially authorised by him, and in no case may it be inflicted on girls over 15 years of age. In the case of girls under 15, it shall not be inflicted except in cases of urgent necessity, each of which must be at once fully reported to the Inspector. Caning on the hand is forbidden.

No punishment not mentioned above shall be inflicted.

6.196This regulation was prefaced by a clause which counselled caution in its use. It said:

The Manager or his Deputy shall be authorised to punish the Children detained in the School in case of misconduct. All serious misconduct, and the Punishments inflicted for it, shall be entered in a book to be kept for that purpose, which shall be laid before the Inspector when he visits. The Manager must, however, remember that the more closely the school is modelled on a principle of judicious family government the more salutary shall be its discipline, and the fewer occasions will arise for resort to punishment.27

6.197The 1946 Rules and Regulations for National Schools applied to the education28 provision within the industrial and reformatory schools.

Instruction in regard to the infliction of Corporal Punishment in National Schools

96.(1)Corporal Punishment should be administered only for grave transgression. In no circumstances should corporal punishment be administered for mere failure at lessons.

(2)Only the principal teacher, or such other member of the staff as may be duly authorised by the manager for the purpose, should inflict corporal punishment.

(3)Only a light cane or rod may be used for the purpose of corporal punishment which should be inflicted only on the open hand. The boxing of children’s ears, the pulling of their hair or similar ill-treatment is absolutely forbidden and will be visited with severe penalties.

(4)No teacher should carry about a cane or other instrument of punishment.

(5)Frequent recourse to corporal punishment will be considered by the Minister as indicating bad tone and ineffective discipline.

6.198This rule did not permit the use of the leather strap in the classroom.

6.199In November, 1946 a circular Cir. 11/46 prepared by Michael Ó Síochfhrada, the Department Inspector, gave more detailed guidelines. The title of the circular was ‘Discipline and Punishment in Certified Schools’. It impressed upon Resident Managers their ‘personal responsibility to ensure that official regulations’ on matters of discipline and punishment were ‘faithfully observed by all members of the staffs of their schools’. The circular stated corporal punishment should only be used as a last resort where other forms of punishment had been unsuccessful as a means of correction.

6.200The Circular went on to stipulate:

  • Corporal punishment should be administered for very grave transgressions and in no circumstances for mere failure at school lessons or industrial training.
  • Corporal punishment should in future be confined to the form usually employed in schools, viz., slapping on the open palm with a light cane or strap.
  • This punishment should only be inflicted by the Resident Manager or by a member of the school staff specially authorised by him for the purpose.
  • Any form of corporal punishment which tends to humiliate a child or expose the child to ridicule before the other children is also forbidden. Such forms of punishment would include special clothing, cutting off a girl’s hair and exceptional treatment at meals.

6.201The Circular attempted to marry the provisions of the 1933 Rules and Regulations for Certified Schools with the new 1946 Rules and Regulations for National Schools. In so doing a certain amount of ambiguity arose with regard to the use of a leather strap in the classroom which was clearly not permitted in the classroom by the 1946 Rules and Regulations.

6.202In December 1946 Cir.15/46 prepared by Michael Breathnach, Secretary of the Department of Education and entitled ‘Circular to Managers and Teachers in regard to the infliction of Corporal Punishment in National Schools was sent to all national schools’. It appears from this document that two additions were made to Section (1) and (3) which did not appear when the original 1946 rules and regulations were circulated to the schools:

96.(1) Corporal Punishment should be administered only for grave transgression. In no circumstances should corporal punishment be administered for mere failure at lessons.

(3) Only a light cane or rod may be used for the purpose of corporal punishment which should be inflicted only on the open hand. The boxing of children’s ears, the pulling of their hair or similar ill-treatment is absolutely forbidden and will be visited with severe penalties.

6.203The circular did not authorise the use of a leather strap as an implement of punishment in national schools.

6.204In 1956 a further circular from the Department of Education Cir. 17/56 entitled ‘Circular to managers and teachers of national schools in regard to corporal punishment’ was issued. This circular was in response to publicity which had been given to the matter of corporal punishment in national schools and was issued to re-affirm the Department’s policy with regard to corporal punishment and to give guidance to those ‘who may be disposed to contravene Rule 96 of the Code’. The Department stated:

In re-issuing that rule, set out hereunder, opportunity is being taken to announce an amendment printed in italics, of Section (3).

6.205The full rule 96 was then set out with the amendment to Section (3) was as follows:

(3) Only a light cane, rod or leather strap may be used for the purpose of corporal punishment which should be inflicted only on the open hand. The boxing of children’s ears, the pulling of their hair or similar ill-treatment is absolutely forbidden and will be visited with severe penalties.

6.206This amendment is significant in that it authorised at an official level the use of the leather strap into national schools after a ten year gap. The evidence of the Investigation Committee would indicate that the leather strap was used in Christian Brother schools throughout this period.

6.207The Christian Brothers had their own rules and regulations in their Acts of Chapter and circular letters and, from the earliest days of that organisation, minimal use of corporal punishment was advocated. In the regulations made at the annual meetings of the Managers between 1881 and 1906, the position was clearly stated:

8. No instrument of punishment is to be allowed in the institution except the strap of leather. No boy shall be punished therewith on any part of the body save on the palm of the hand.

10. Extraordinary punishments are to be inflicted by the Manager only, or by some one specially appointed by him, and in his presence.

6.208The dangers of excessive or abusive physical punishment were well understood by the Congregation. In 1900 the Superior General, Br Moylan, wrote on the topic of corporal punishment in his first circular letter:

Though the Rule (Const 180, Acts of Chapter 65; D and R Chap L.1) contains definite instructions relative to the use of Corporal Punishment in our School, the Chapter desired I should refer to it in this Circular. Indeed, there are few matters I wish to urge with greater insistence upon the attention of the Brothers and especially of the young Brothers, than the evil done by the use of injudicious punishment when correcting faults of their pupils.

Corporal punishment is always degrading, and is more or less so according to the nature of the corrective used. Apart from the physical pain endured, the child’s nature shrinks from the shame which its infliction inspires; the boy’s incipient manhood revolts against it. Given in excess or when undeserved, it does harm which runs through a whole lifetime; it is never forgotten and sometimes never forgiven. The remembrance of such punishment sinks into the retentive memory of childhood, and there remains in clear outline and with every aggravating detail, when even the wrongs of after years have been well nigh forgotten.

Corporal punishment should be resorted to only when every other means of correction has failed. In some instances it should not be employed at all, as it serves only to render the delinquent more obdurate, and to hurry him more rapidly along the evil course from which it was intended to turn him aside.

6.209Br Moylan continued with an uncompromising indictment of unfair or excessive punishment that echoed through the century that followed and has immediate resonance with the work that was undertaken by the Commission:

He does far worse who punishes when punishment is not deserved, or exceeds what the child’s own consciousness of justice tells him should not be overstepped. Such chastisement is brooded over and resented as a wrong which, perhaps, even years of kindness may not entirely obliterate. Sometimes it does incalculable injury. Long after it is recalled with bitterness, and associated unhappily not merely with the teacher who inflicted it, but with religion itself.

6.210Br Moylan’s words were not generally adhered to, as was clear from the circular written by his successor, Br Whitty, in 1906:

At the General Chapter of 1900, Acts were framed to lessen the amount of corporal punishment in the schools. Conditions were prescribed for the use of it; and various restrictions imposed to prevent its abuse. In many schools, and even in many establishments, these regulations faithfully were carried out, in the proper spirit, and with the best results. In other schools – the minority truly, but still, I regret to say, too large minority – it was not so. In these schools much of the old spirit continued to prevail. The restrictions, laid down by the Chapter, were either ignored, or but half observed, and even that grudgingly. The Brothers in these schools set up a standard to suit their own ideas of what was, and what was not, legitimate punishment in given cases. These Brothers also decided for themselves the proper times and occasions for administering corporal punishment-and not in accordance with Rule. This course of action was very improper, very censurable and could not have the blessing of God.

6.211Br Whitty went on to recount the consequences of such behaviour as including discontent in the classrooms and even petitions from parents calling for the removal of Brothers.

6.212He concluded with a strong exhortation to his members to restrict corporal punishment ‘within the narrowest limits’:

The Brothers generally would do well to bear in mind that the growing spirit of the times is opposed to corporal punishment in the schools. The tendency is to abolish it. In some countries it is positively forbidden, and illegal, for the teacher to punish a child for any cause. He must find other and more rational methods of dealing with him. Other countries are much ahead of Ireland in this respect; but even in Ireland the same tendency is manifesting itself – to restrict corporal punishment in schools within the narrowest limits. It would not be to the credit of the Brothers, as educators, to be found at the rear of this movement when they should rather lead the way.

6.213The 1920 Chapter was even more specific. It set down guidelines for corporal punishment which included the advice that it should not be administered within one hour of starting or finishing school and that numbers of boys should not be punished at the same time. It stated that:

the strap … shall not exceed 13 inches in length; 1¼ in width and ¼ inch in thickness; in junior schools the strap is to be of smaller dimensions … No child shall be punished on any part of the body save on the palm of the hand.

6.214The rules were revised in 1930 and stated:

It must be the aim of every Brother to reduce corporal punishment to the minimum. Frequent recourse to corporal punishment indicates a bad tone and ineffectual discipline …

Corporal punishment should be administered only for grave transgressions – never for failure in lessons.

The principal teacher only, or a Brother delegated by a Superior, shall inflict the corporal punishment. An interval of at least ten minutes should elapse between the offence and the punishment.

Only the approved leather strap may be used for the purpose of inflicting the corporal punishment. The strap is to be left on the master’s desk except when in actual use.

The boxing of children’s ears, the pulling of their hair and similar ill treatment are absolutely forbidden.

The particulars required by the headings in the corporal punishment book should be entered in that book before the infliction of the punishment.

6.215Residential institutions were specifically brought within these Acts of Chapter relating to corporal punishment, which were the rules applying to Christian Brothers throughout the period relevant to this inquiry.

6.216The prohibition on striking a child on any part of his body other than the palm of the hands, which was reiterated in the 1910 and 1920 Chapter, was omitted in the 1930 rules and did not appear again in any of the rules set down by the General Chapters until 1966.

6.217As long as corporal punishment was tolerated, the possibility of abuse existed and this was recognised by Br Noonan, Superior General, in 1930:

The opinion amongst educators that corporal punishment should be altogether abolished in schools is hardening. While admitting its decline in our schools, the Committee felt, and the Higher Superiors are aware, that abuses have arisen; and they will recur, I fear, as long as our regulations give any authority for the infliction of corporal punishment. Let us aim at its complete abolition in our schools and anticipate legislation which would make its infliction illegal.

6.218The 1930 rules were adopted verbatim in 1947 and in the 1960s, and circulars were sent to all institutions requesting moderation and decorum in the use of the strap. In 1966, for example, the Acts of General Chapter stated:

It must be the aim of every Brother to reduce corporal punishment to a minimum. It should be administered for serious transgressions only – never for mere failure in lessons. Only the approved leather strap may be used for the purpose of inflicting corporal punishment. Not more than two strokes on the palm of the hand are to be administered on any occasion. The strap is to be left in the Master’s desk except when in actual use. The Department’s regulations should be borne in mind.

6.219This was the first time that Government regulations were referred to, but the recommendation was that they should be borne in mind rather than adhered to as a legal obligation. This was addressed in 1968 when the Acts of Chapter stated:

Government regulations must be observed in the administration of corporal punishment and it must be the aim of each Brother to reduce it to a minimum.

6.220Abolition of corporal punishment did not occur in Irish schools until 1st February 1982, when a Department of Education circular stated that any teacher who used corporal punishment was now to be ‘regarded as guilty of conduct unbefitting a teacher’ and would be subject to ‘severe disciplinary action’.

6.221Although this circular could have provided grounds for a civil action against a teacher who acted in breach of it, it was not until 199729 that physical punishment by a teacher became a criminal offence.

6.222For over 100 years the Acts of Chapter recommended that corporal punishment should be minimised and ultimately abolished. It is inexplicable, therefore, that Brothers who were in serious breach of the Congregation’s own rules were tolerated and protected by the Congregation. Complaints by parents or lay-persons were discounted, even when these complaints reached the Provincial Leaders, notwithstanding the clear understanding the Congregation had of the danger posed by abuse of this rule.

6.223As already cited a submission made by the Christian Brothers and other Congregations on the subject of corporal punishment and physical abuse is that the historical context is essential to any investigation, and particularly the fact that such punishment was permissible and widespread in schools and homes at the relevant time. The chapters that follow recount details of corporal punishment which by any standards, at any time, amounted to physical abuse.

Punishment book

6.224Under the 1933 Rules and Regulations for Certified Industrial Schools, all such schools were required to keep a punishment book in which all serious punishments were to be recorded.

6.225There was no evidence that the Christian Brothers kept such a book in any of their residential schools during the relevant period. To require exclusive reliance on records and documentation was a difficult position to justify, because the Brothers themselves failed to keep the records that were required by law, and which were intended to allow external inspectors to see that regulations were being complied with.

6.226However, such documents that do exist are an important source of information. In the chapters on each individual institution that follow, a detailed examination of the records precedes the oral evidence heard by the Committee in the hearings.

Sexual abuse

6.227The Congregation’s approach to allegations of sexual abuse of pupils was broadly similar for all its schools. It was set out by Br Michael Reynolds in a representative capacity in September 2005 and may be summarised as follows:

  • The Congregation accept that there were instances when members of the Congregation and members of staff engaged in the sexual abuse of boys while in their care.
  • That such instances took place is a matter of great regret to the Congregation.
  • That there was no systemic sexual abuse of boys in their institutions.
  • Brothers who did sexually abuse boys betrayed the trust given them and thereby caused pain to the great number of Brothers who honoured this trust and devoted themselves to the education and welfare of the boys in their care.

6.228It is stated in the Congregation’s Artane Opening Statement that:

  • The Congregation endeavoured to ensure the safety of the children in its care, whether in day schools or in residential institutions.
  • Brothers, during their training as teachers, were not given specific instruction in child protection, and such instruction is relatively new in the training of teachers and others involved in the education and care of youth.
  • The issue of sexual abuse was seen as a moral one where such abuse was seen as a grave moral failing. It was the cause of scandal and a moral danger both to the child and to the abuser.
  • Long-term psychological damage caused by sexual abuse was not understood by society at the time.
  • The recidivist nature of child sexual abuse was, likewise, not understood by society at that time.
  • The response of the Congregation to instances of sexual abuse was conditioned by this inadequate understanding of the issue.
  • Procedures were in place for dealing with abuse, but they were of their time and were therefore very inadequate by current standards.

6.229The Congregation’s statement describes how Brothers guilty of child sexual abuse were dealt with:

  • A Brother not yet a finally professed member of the Congregation was usually dismissed.
  • A finally professed Brother was summoned to the Provincialate and either given a formal Canonical Warning or dismissed.
  • A repeat offender was dismissed.

6.230The source material referred to and analysed by the Congregation in making its submission was identified as contemporaneous documentation extracted from the Provincial Archives of the Christian Brothers in Ireland and the General Archives of the Christian Brothers in Rome. As in the case of its submission in relation to corporal punishment, the Congregation does not in this submission place reliance on other possible sources of information such as the recollections and accounts of those who lived and worked in the institutions during the relevant period, nor on the accounts contained in the statements of complainants furnished to the Commission.

6.231The documents extracted from the Christian Brothers archives in Rome were not comprehensive; in most cases, they did not contain statements of the evidence; they sometimes referred to the offence under scrutiny in oblique terms and they referred only to those cases where the allegation against the Brother was considered well founded.

6.232Having analysed the documented cases, the Congregation concluded that the approach to sexual abuse was that it was seen as a moral issue. Such abuse was seen as a grave moral failing on a number of grounds:

  • It was morally wrong, sinful in itself.
  • It was a cause of serious scandal to and endangered the morals of the child.
  • It damaged the reputation of the individual offender, the institution and the Congregation.

6.233Its analysis of these cases also leads the Congregation to comment that there was no adequate understanding either of the emotional impact which sexual abuse caused the child or of the recidivistic nature of the abuser. The Congregation agreed with a suggestion by counsel for the Commission that the fact that the abuse was a crime should have been added to this list.

6.234It was submitted by the Congregation that, while the approach to instances of sexual abuse of children was very inadequate by present-day standards, the manner in which the Congregation did respond was characterised as follows:

  • There was no cover up of the issue.
  • When personnel became aware of the issue they reported it to the Congregation authorities.
  • Structures in place made it possible for boys to bring such issues to the attention of the Resident Manager or other personnel, and this in fact happened.
  • The Congregation removed the abusers from the institution and in most cases from the Congregation.
  • The Congregation Visitor was attentive to the dangers of sex abuse.
  • Guidelines and recommendations were issued to assist with child protection.

6.235In its investigations into individual schools, the Committee found that the Congregation’s response to sexual abuse fell short of the measures outlined above.

6.236After the conclusion of the evidence given in Phases I, II and III hearings, the Congregation furnished written submissions setting out its position in relation to various aspects of the evidence heard by the Investigation Committee.

6.237In essence, the submissions made by the Christian Brothers at this stage in relation to allegations of abuse were that the quality and reliability of the evidence given by complainants during the Phase II hearings had been undermined owing to a broad range of significant factors. The effect of these undermining factors was to render much of the evidence (particularly in respect of sexual abuse) implausible, inconsistent, contradictory, and therefore unreliable.

Assessment of evidence

6.238The Congregation emphasised in its submissions the impact that publicity and lobby groups had on the reliability of evidence about abuse. It also outlined concerns regarding the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Act, 2000 which, it submitted, affected the reliability of allegations of sexual abuse.

6.239Many witnesses were questioned closely by counsel for the Christian Brothers about their association with lobby and support groups. There was a clear implication by the Congregation that active association with a lobby group was indicative of a lack of objectivity on the part of the witness.

6.240The Committee recognised there were grounds for concern that some complainant witnesses had been influenced by events at meetings. For example, lists of names of Brothers who were present in the institutions were distributed at some meetings so that ex-residents would be able to name abusers. Issues such as this diminished the credibility and reliability of the testimony of some witnesses.

6.241The Christian Brothers were able to cross-examine all the complainants who came forward, and the issue of collusion was fully explored by their counsel. Evidence of some witnesses was discounted by the Committee where these issues arose.

6.242The Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Act, 2000 was also cited by the Congregation as a significant factor, in that it granted extension of time for bringing claims for damages in respect of sexual abuse in circumstances that did not apply to other forms of abuse including physical abuse. One of the conditions for getting an extension was making a complaint to the Gardaí.

6.243In their final Submission for Artane, the Christian Brothers stated:

it is likely that complainants were aware of the possibility of this requirement being incorporated into the pending legislation. Indeed … many complainants went to the Gardai at the suggestion of their legal advisors.

6.244The Submission went on to state:

A substantial number of the other allegations of sexual abuse which were made to the Commission (including allegations where the complainant ultimately chose not to give evidence) were first made to the Gardai around 1999/2000 also and it is not unreasonable to infer that some of these complainants may have been influenced by the prevailing perception as to what they would have to allege so as to be eligible to make a claim for compensation.

6.245Matters affecting weight and transparency of evidence were not confined to complainants. On the respondent side, some members and ex-members of the Congregation were reluctant to speak openly and frankly about their memories of the industrial schools in which they worked. They were reluctant to criticise the Congregation or their colleagues, and the defensive attitude which was adopted by the Congregation in its Opening Statement was mirrored by some of the respondent witnesses.

6.246These and other considerations were relevant in assessment of evidence, but the occasions of determining facts that were merely asserted on one side and denied on the other, with no accompaniment of documentary or circumstantial material or corroboration, were greatly reduced by the Committee’s method of investigation.

Impact of allegations on respondents

6.247The Committee was satisfied that some allegations of abuse were false. A small number were not the result of contamination or exaggeration but were deliberately manufactured for the purposes of compensation or to cause maximum damage to the Christian Brothers.

6.248Respondents spoke to the Committee about the impact that allegations of sexual abuse had on their lives.

6.249One Brother had an allegation of sexual abuse made against him which was never pursued by the complainant. This Brother had come in to the Investigation Committee to answer this charge, but was not given an opportunity to do so because of the failure of the complainant to attend, and expressed his distress at having the allegation hang over him for four and a half years.

6.250Another Brother described an allegation of sexual abuse that was made against him as ‘hurtful’. He went on to say that there had never been an allegation against him in all of the subsequent 40 years that he had been a teacher. ‘Yes, I feel deeply hurt that these allegations come from a period in my life where I literally cared for the uncared for’.

6.251After two years, a decision was made by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that no prosecutions would take place. He spoke of the impact the allegations had:

This has had impact not alone on me … But it has impacted on me and my family. It has impacted also on a true and loyal staff, that any one of those could find themselves where I am today. This has got to be stopped. How I don’t know, but it will have to be halted.

6.252This man was reinstated to his teaching position shortly after the DPP’s decision, when the Board of Management of his school declared itself satisfied, after an investigation, that this be done.

6.253Another Brother described the experience of being accused of wrong-doing in 1997, some 40 years after he had left the Institution:

It was eight years of torture and disappointing because I felt I had dedicated myself when I was in Artane to the people there and done great work and I was the same in every school I was in and this was a horrible way to finish my career.

6.254This former Brother was in his mid-60s when these allegations were put to him. He was married with two children. Eventually, some seven years after the initial interrogation, the DPP made a decision not to prosecute.

6.255Allegations of sexual abuse are difficult to verify. Length of time and the inherent secrecy of the act make it hard for complainants to prove their case, even on the ‘balance of probabilities’. To prove such a case beyond reasonable doubt, as is required by the criminal law, is even more difficult. In the same way as it is difficult to prove abuse, so it is also difficult to prove that abuse did not occur.

6.256In one case before the Committee a Brother was reinstated on the strength of a DPP decision. Counsel for the Congregation stated that there was ‘an infrastructure put in place … to determine what is the correct thing to do’.

6.257In subsequent correspondence with the Investigation Committee, it emerged that no such procedures had been followed in this case and that the decision had been taken by the Provincial Leadership Team. The decision was based on the fact that the only allegations against this man were from the two years he had spent in Artane and that the Leadership Team ‘were satisfied that they had no concerns that Br Romain30 posed any childcare dangers to children or pupils under his stewardship’.

6.258The Congregation stated that they were guided in this case by the 1987 Regulations and by the Irish Bishops Advisory Committee which issued ‘A Framework for a Church Response’ (Green Book 1996) ‘which was being adhered to by the Congregation’. In fact, the Green Book set out a detailed procedure for dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse and these do not appear to have been applied in this case.

6.259It is in the interests of both genuine complainants and accused that allegations be investigated expeditiously and in an independent and transparent manner.

The private hearings – Phase II

6.260At the private hearings the Congregation of the Christian Brothers was usually represented by senior and junior counsel, who were attended by the firm of Maxwells, Solicitors. At least one senior member of the Congregation, and on most occasions more than one, was present on each day of the hearings and heard all the testimony of both respondents and complainants. Individual respondents were represented by either senior or junior counsel or by both. They, too, had their own solicitor in attendance. Complainants were represented for the most part by senior counsel. Solicitors for the complainants were also present. Some members of the Investigation Committee legal team was present throughout.

6.261The Congregation provided their own responses to all the complainant statements. Most were signed by former members of staff and they generally took the form of a blanket denial of the allegations.

6.262There were several problems with these response statements:

  • Some of the statements were signed by Brothers who were not in the School at the time. The fact that they had signed the document gave the impression that they were in a position to affirm the facts asserted in statements, but in reality they were in no position to do so.
  • Brothers who signed the statements gave evidence to the Committee that contradicted the facts asserted in the response statements.
  • Some statements simply omitted relevant facts, while at the same time making assertions that were known to be incorrect or misleading.

6.263The Christian Brothers began making their response statements using a policy of denying that a Brother was ever in the institution when a complainant had got a name even slightly wrong, or had used a Christian name or a nickname rather than the Brother’s surname.

6.264Counsel explained the reason for this approach as follows:

I understand that in the early statements instructions were given that the Brothers were known only by their surnames. We now know after only a few days it was a mixed bag.

6.265In circumstances where the individual respondent either admitted abusing the complainant, or elected to ask no questions, the Congregation was still entitled to cross-examine the witness, and in most cases it availed itself of this opportunity.

6.266The records provided by the Congregation, whilst limited and incomplete in some respects, were more extensive and detailed than the materials in the archives of other Congregations, and contributed significantly to the overall picture of these institutions. The structure of the chapters on the institutions, proceeding from documented cases of abuse to the uncorroborated evidence, reflects this approach. The documented cases were examined for behaviour described and for the way the cases were managed. This illuminated attitudes the Congregation had at the time to Brothers who broke the rules.

6.267The documents originally discovered to the Committee were added to on several occasions. A public hearing on discovery issues, arising out of the investigation of Carriglea Industrial School, took place in November 2006 after prolonged correspondence failed to produce requested material. The Congregation supplied this additional material subsequent to that hearing, which included recordings and notes of interviews with Brothers about their experiences in industrial schools. A further substantial body of documentary evidence was furnished in March 2007, when the Congregation’s solicitors notified the Committee that it had decided to waive its claim to withhold documents from discovery on the grounds of privilege.

6.268The contemporary records of the Congregation, and in particular their Visitation Reports, allowed an in-depth investigation of the industrial schools under their control, and this was helpful to the work of the Committee.

1 The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, commonly known as the Pope.

2 B. Coldrey, Faith and Fatherland. The Christian Brothers and the Development of Nationalism, 1838–1921 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1988), p 22.

3 There are currently 122 schools in the Christian Brother network in Ireland, according to the Marino Institute of Education website.

4 Constitutions (1923).

5 The general assembly of representatives from the Congregation of the Christian Brothers.

6 Commission of Inquiry into the Reformatory and Industrial School System Report, 1936 (the Cussen Report) (Dublin: Stationery Office).

7 A Visitor was a Congregational Inspector who reported back to the leadership of the Congregation. See Supervision/Visitations below.

8 An association where the main object is the well-being and improvement of a different group of persons, such as men, women and children, or more specially, priests, youths, church helpers, prisoners, immigrants, nurses, married people, couples, etc.

9 Cn 653.

10 You shall not commit adultery.

11 You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife.

12 Congregation of the Christian Brothers 1962, Chapter VIII ‘Chastity’, p 23 section 81.

13 Const 8 of the 1923 Constitutions.

14 Const 97 of the 1923 Constitutions.

15 Congregation of the Christian Brothers 1962, Chapter XIII ‘Mortifications & Humilitations’, p 30 section 128.

16 The Cussen Report 1936 – Commission of Inquiry into the Reformatory and Industrial School System, para 74.

17 This is a pseudonym.

18 There were three programmes broadcast by RTE in 1999 in the ‘States of Fear’ series: ‘Industrial Schools and Reformatories from the 1940s-1980s’, ‘The Legacy of Industrial Schools’, and ‘Sick and Disabled Children in Institutions’.

19 Suffer the Little Children, by Mary Raftery and Eoin O’Sullivan, 1999, New Island.

20 O’Brien Institute.

21 This is a pseudonym.

22 P394 Circular Letters 1821–1930

23 Department of Education Annual Report 1925/1926.

24 Report of the Department of Education for the School Years 1925–26–27 and the Financial and Administrative Year 1926–1927, p 83.

25 Report of the Department of Education for the School Year 1924–1925 and the Financial and Administrative Years 1924–25–26, p 84.

26 Rules and Regulations for the Certified Industrial Schools in Saorstát Éireann Approved by the Minister of Education under the 54th Section of the Act, 8 Edw VII., Ch 67, clauses 12 and 13 (see DES chapter).

27 Rules and Regulations for the Certified Industrial Schools in Saorstát Éireann Approved by the Minister of Education under the Children Act, 1908.

28 The Department submit this wording ‘education provision’ in other words the internal national school.

29 Section 24 of The Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997 provided:
the rule of law under which teachers are immune from criminal liability in respect of physical chastisement of pupils is hereby abolished.
With the removal of this immunity, teachers are now subject to section 2(1) of the 1997 Act which provides that:
a person shall be guilty of the offence of assault, who without lawful excuse, intentionally or recklessly, directly or indirectly applies force to and causes an impact on the body of another.Teachers who physically chastise pupils may now be guilty of an offence and liable to 12 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of £1,500.

30 This is a pseudonym.

Chapter 7
St Joseph’s Industrial School, Artane (‘Artane’), 1870–1969



7.01St Joseph’s Industrial School, Artane was established under the Industrial Schools Act (Ireland), 1868 by the Christian Brothers at the request of the then Archbishop of Dublin, Cardinal Cullen. It opened on 28th July 1870 with the aim of caring for neglected, orphaned and abandoned Roman Catholic boys, and it operated as an industrial school until its closure in 1969.

7.02The Industrial School was located in a north-eastern suburb of Dublin some five kilometres from the city centre in an area which was, at that time, open countryside amenable to intensive farming. The application for a certificate in June 1870, to the Chief Secretary for Ireland, stated that Artane Castle plus 56 acres of land had been purchased for the purpose of setting up an industrial school. The request was approved and the School was licensed to accommodate 825 boys on 9th July 1870. From an original intake of three pupils, it quickly grew in scale, housing 700 boys by 1877, and reaching its certified size of 825 boys before the end of the nineteenth century. During its existence, approximately 15,500 boys were cared for and educated in Artane.

7.03In 1870, the buildings consisted of a large dwelling house with out-offices, gardens and 56 acres of arable land. The property had been purchased for £7,000, and it was proposed that dormitories, classrooms etc. would be erected for a further £1,600. Three boys were admitted in the beginning and then tarred sheds were put up to accommodate 40 boys. The Congregation’s Opening Statement described how the ambitious scheme developed thereafter:

Public personages of all shades of opinion gave the school generous support. To raise funds for the provision of permanent buildings a petition signed by a large number of people was presented to the Lord Mayor. A public meeting was called by the Lord Mayor in response to this petition and substantial voluntary funds were soon received. From this response and from newspaper articles of the time it is clear that there was strong public support for the work of the school. The design, atmosphere and work ethos of the school received much acclaim from numerous eminent persons in public life and many visitors were impressed with what they witnessed.

7.04Although the initial proposal was that £1,600 would be spent building dormitories and classrooms, an Annual published by the Brothers in 1905 recorded that buildings costing over £60,000 had been erected at Artane by that time. The land associated with the School increased from 56 acres to more than 350 acres by the early 1940s.1 In 1934, some 147 acres were under meadow and tillage, with the remainder being used for grazing, apart from land occupied by buildings and playgrounds. The main building still stands today.

7.05Artane was conceived on a grand scale. Dormitories accommodated up to 150 boys, sleeping in ordered rows of beds with no personal space. The dining area or refectory accommodated all 825 boys at one sitting. A submission in 1934 to the Cussen Commission into industrial schools boasted that a ‘magnificent corridor 365 feet long runs the whole length of the building’.

7.06The undertaking comprised the School, the trade shops and the farm, in addition to the Community house. The trade shops and the farm constituted a substantial business enterprise, of which the farm brought in a large yearly income.

7.07The Investigation Committee engaged a Consultant Engineer, Ciaran Fahy, to examine and report on the buildings and accommodation in Artane, and his report is annexed at Appendix 1 to this chapter.

7.08The Rules and Regulations of Artane were similar to those of other industrial schools and required it to provide for the physical needs of the boys committed to the School, who were to be supplied with suitable accommodation, clothing, food, and instruction. Recreation was to be provided and they were allowed to receive visitors and to correspond with outsiders. They were to receive religious instruction, a secular education and industrial training. The School was also required to develop a spirit of industry, pride and discipline amongst the children.2

7.09The number of children detained in Artane from 1937 to 1969 was as follows:

1936 n/a 1944 820 1952 732 1960 421 1968 230
1937 679 1945 820 1953 696 1961 395 1969 211
1938 737 1946 811 1954 739 1962 367
1939 772 1947 797 1955 650 1963 341
1940 820 1948 830 1956 566 1964 319
1941 817 1949 803 1957 496 1965 314
1942 817 1950 776 1958 426 1966 307
1943 810 1951 749 1959 446 1967 230

7.10These boys were ordered to be detained in Artane by the courts for reasons of inadequate parental care, destitution, neglect, truancy or the commission of minor offences. It is clear, however, that poverty was the underlying reason why children were sent to Artane, whatever the statutory category grounding the detention.

7.11The reasons for committals during the period from 1940 to 1969 were as follows:

Improper guardianship School Attendance Act Destitution Homelessness Larceny Other crime
1374 1045 720 227 229 90

7.12Other admissions to Artane were insignificant in number in the 1940s but they increased substantially later. Health Board and voluntary admissions increased from 13 in the 1940s to 113 in the 1950s, and 136 in the 1960s. These admissions were not included in the number of children in respect of whom a capitation grant was payable by the Department of Education. They were either privately funded to attend the School or paid for by the Health Board, and in the latter years they accounted for an additional 50% of boys in Artane.

7.13During June 1969, the 211 boys who were still detained in Artane were moved out and the Institution closed on the 30th of that month. 120 boys were discharged to their parents or godparents or placed in jobs. Of the remainder, 26 boys were transferred to Ferryhouse, and the others went in small numbers to different institutions around the country. These dispositions were agreed after much discussion and many meetings between the School authorities and the Department of Education.

7.14In the years leading up to the closure, and particularly during the late 1960s, there was a dramatic decline in the number of children who would potentially have made up the population of industrial schools. Legal adoption, fostering and boarding-out were among the principal reasons for the decline. In addition, attitudes of the public and a number of State officials had become unsympathetic to industrial schools as a means of caring for deprived children. Improvements in economic and social conditions and benefits also contributed.

7.15Artane, as the biggest industrial school, was most vulnerable to these developments. The Superior was a member of the Kennedy Committee that began work in 1967 and was expected to report in mid-1968. He was privy to the thinking of the Committee and was able to inform his colleagues in the Congregation that the Committee was going to recommend the closure of Artane.

7.16Br Reynolds, Deputy Leader of St Mary’s Province of the Christian Brothers, said at the Phase I hearing that it was clear at the time that the Kennedy Committee would recommend the closure of industrial schools. The Opening Statement stated:

it was becoming clear to the Congregation that the future of Artane Industrial School was uncertain and had been under discussion from the middle nineteen fifties. Eventually, in or around 1967 the Congregation took a decision in principle to close the institution.

7.17Br Reynolds added that he thought that the decision ‘could have been taken in 1967’, with the timing being left to the Provincial to decide. On 23rd January 1968 the Provincial informed the Minister for Education that the School would close on 31st August of that year. At a meeting attended by the Minister in March, the Brothers agreed to a deferment until 31st December 1968, to give the Department time to arrange alternative accommodation for the boys. One further extension until 30th June 1968 was subsequently agreed.

The Cussen Report and Artane

7.18The beginning of the relevant period of this inquiry coincided with the publication in 1936 of the Cussen Report into Industrial and Reformatory Schools.3 The Congregation had made a written submission to the Cussen Inquiry, with a detailed account of the system of care and an unapologetic defence of all aspects of the Institution.

7.19The Congregation was worried that the Cussen Commission would call for changes in Artane, and there was relief when that body’s visit to the School went off successfully and the Brothers were reassured by their belief that the Commissioners seemed pleased by what they saw. The Brothers knew that talk of change was in the air and they were hoping to persuade the Commissioners to approve the existing state of affairs. Br Strahan, who wrote the submission for the Congregation, concluded it with the request that Artane should remain as it was:

Whether judged by the greatness of its successes, or by the small proportion of its failures, or by the world-wide fame it has attained, we submit, Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, that not only should Artane be allowed to stand untouched, but that it should be cordially and generously supported.

7.20The submission responded to the suggestion that the School was too big, by arguing that it had succeeded beyond all expectations and that:

in its largeness lies its chief merit and advantage; for it is its size and its multiplicity of activities that afford exercise to those following the various trades, etc., within its own precincts. It is only in a large school that such a variety of trades could be established to meet the immediate demands of the Institution.

7.21Acknowledging that ‘the air has become charged with reports of even drastic changes’ because of recent legislation in England, Br Strahan emphasised the differences between the countries and the fact that the new ideas were as yet unproven. He wrote that the legislation dealt ‘with a different people, a people of different temperament, of different religious opinions’.

7.22The submission painted an idyllic picture of life in Artane, describing in detail the facilities for education, training, recreation, aftercare and the living conditions of the boys as being in all respects of the highest quality. No significant faults were admitted. However, in spite of the writer’s zeal in defending every feature of the Institution, something of the impersonal nature of the School crept into the submission. The mealtime routine was described as follows:

After mid-day we hear a bugle-call and see the assembling of the clans from farm and shops and band room and knitting room, as they form in companies before dinner hour. We see them walk in perfect order, but with free step, and await in silence till the presiding Brother pronounces Grace. We see them sit down in perfect silence until given leave to chat …

7.23Some issues that were of real concern to the Commissioners in the Cussen Inquiry were discussed very favourably in the Christian Brothers’ submission, but it transpired when the Report was published that they were anything but convinced. The recommendations made by the Cussen Commission rejected some important parts of the submissions that the Congregation had put forward. The proposal to split up Artane into four units, the criticism of education, and the dissatisfaction with supervision and aftercare of children leaving Christian Brothers’ industrial schools went directly against the arguments in support of the Institution. Some other recommendations were not specific to Artane but were no less applicable and were also implicitly adverse findings.

7.24The Commission concluded that the School was too big by a factor of about four, and recommended that it should be divided. Paragraph 72 of the Report stated:

In our opinion the best results can be obtained only where the number under any one Manager does not exceed 200 pupils. We think that in no case should the number exceed 250. It is necessary in this connection to refer specifically to the case of Artane Industrial School, which is certified for 800 boys and where there are on an average about 700 boys. It is in our view impossible for the Manager in an Institution of this size to bring to bear that personal touch essential to give each child the impression that he is an individual in whose troubles, ambitions, and welfare a lively interest is being taken. We strongly recommend, therefore, that Artane should be divided into separate Schools, the pupils being segregated according to age and attainments. Each school should contain not more than 250 pupils under the control of a sub-manger, whose appointment and removal should be subject to the approval of the Minister …

7.25Artane was also singled out for criticism of the education provided. The Commission noted with regret at paragraph 92 of the Report:

… that in Artane Industrial School, with over 700 pupils, only the minimum standard of literary education required by the regulations is provided, and pupils, however promising, cannot, as a rule, proceed beyond sixth standard.

7.26The Commission commented on supervision and aftercare of children discharged from industrial schools, and was critical of this aspect of care in schools run by the Christian Brothers. Paragraph 120 said:

We are not satisfied as to the adequacy of the methods of supervision and after-care of children discharged from these schools, particularly in the case of boys leaving the Industrial Schools which are under the management of the Christian Brothers.

7.27On this subject, the Brothers’ submission had described a very satisfactory situation, which was obviously not accepted by the Commissioners:

The school keeps in touch with the ex-pupils by letters, enquiries, meetings, when on holiday, reports from employers, etc., for at least two years, and generally for three years after they leave school, and taking into account how greatly they were handicapped in earlier life, it is most gratifying to find the small percentage of those who have failed to make good.

7.28The Cussen Report made other observations and criticisms that were not specific to Artane or to Christian Brothers’ institutions, and they are discussed as they arise in considering the evidence.

7.29The concerns expressed by Cussen were well founded. In particular, the excessive numbers of boys in the School continued to have a detrimental effect on the capacity of the Institution to provide a caring environment and on the lives of those who lived and worked in it, and contributed greatly to the problems that emerged over the years. The Congregation has conceded that, because of the numbers and because of the need for constant vigilance, Artane was run on a highly organised basis, even to the point of regimentation.

7.30The recommendation to divide the Industrial School was not implemented, although, in the last years of Artane’s existence when the numbers had dropped to a fraction of previous decades, the boys were segregated into two groups according to their ages. The documentary records of the Christian Brothers and the Department of Education did not disclose the reason for rejecting the proposal to divide the School. There was no record of discussion or debate or of any explicit decision in that regard. Although the Congregation in its submissions has blamed the Department of Education for failure to implement this recommendation, it must also bear responsibility. If the Brothers had proposed such a change, it is difficult to see how the Department could have reasonably opposed it. When the division was made in 1967, admittedly a much smaller alteration in view of the reduced population, it was an internal decision of the Congregation.

Management and staff

7.31The hierarchical nature of the religious leadership in Artane had consequences for the management of the School. Evidence before the Committee pointed to a rigid and simplistic management structure, whereby all the power and all the decision-making function lay with the Resident Manager. Individual Brothers spoke to the Committee about their own feelings of helplessness and frustration at their inability to effect change. Older Brothers had authority over younger colleagues, and this allowed a system to develop whereby all the heavy workload of the Institution fell on a small number of young, inexperienced Brothers who were obliged by their vows of obedience to carry out instructions without question.

7.32The Institution was not adequately staffed. The day-to-day operation was left to a small number of largely inexperienced and untrained Brothers who were required to work for up to 14 hours a day, seven days a week. Other Brothers lived in the Community and participated to varying degrees in the Institution, for example in administrative work, while some Brothers did not participate at all in the running of the School due to age, ill-health or even, according to one Brother, because of disinclination. These Brothers were supported by the School, but did not participate in its work.

7.33The Brothers working in the Institution were not instructed in childcare. Their tuition was the teacher training for national schools which was provided by the Congregation at its own Marino training college. Brothers attended teacher training in Marino for one year and were then sent out to a Christian Brothers’ school for experience for a number of years, before returning to complete their second and final years. Many young Brothers were sent to Artane as their first posting in this interim period, when they were wholly unqualified to care for children and had completed only half of their course as teachers. The Investigation Committee heard evidence from former members of staff of Artane that they were shocked by their first experience and overwhelmed by the scale of the task imposed on them.

The investigation

7.34Phase I of the hearings into Artane took place on 15th September 2005 with a public session at the Alexander Hotel, Merrion Square, Dublin 2. Evidence was heard from Br Michael Reynolds, who described life in the Institution and outlined the Congregation’s view as to how the Institution operated.

7.35Phase II commenced on 26th September 2005 in the offices of the Commission and continued in private in accordance with the legislation until 16th December 2005. The Investigation Committee invited 78 complainants to give evidence as part of the Artane inquiry, of whom 48 attended and gave evidence. 26 respondents, either Brothers or ex-Brothers gave evidence. In addition, the Committee heard from two other witnesses who were in a position to give general information about the Institution.4

7.36In Phase III of the Investigation Committee’s inquiry into Artane, Br Reynolds returned to give evidence on behalf of the Congregation at a public hearing which took place on 22nd and 23rd May 2006. This session focused on issues that arose as a result of the private hearings into Artane and the documentary material furnished to the Commission.

7.37In addition to oral evidence, the Investigation Committee considered documentary discovery material received from a number of sources, namely the Christian Brothers, the Department of Education and Science, An Garda Síochána, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Archbishop of Dublin and the Health Service Executive.

7.38There are Department of Education General and Medical Inspection Reports for most of the period of the investigation. Files from the headquarters of the Christian Brothers in Rome yielded evidence of cases of sexual abuse considered by the Congregation to have been admitted or proven against individual Brothers. Visitation Reports of the Christian Brothers were another valuable source of information. Infirmary records were scant and were shown to be misleading in some cases. There was a statutory requirement to maintain a punishment book, which was to be examined by the Department of Education Inspector, but no such book was maintained.

7.39An unusual feature about Artane was that there was independent evidence as to conditions there. The evidence was firstly that of Fr Henry Moore, who was chaplain to Artane by appointment of the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr J.C. McQuaid, from 1960 to 1967. Fr Moore was the author of a confidential report on conditions in Artane, which he wrote in 1962 at the request of the Archbishop. He also gave evidence about the Institution to an Inter-Departmental Committee on juvenile crime in the same year, as a result of which controversy arose between officials of the Department of Justice and the Department of Education. Fr Moore was exceptionally qualified to comment on residential schools and the Christian Brothers, because he had spent nearly 10 years as a resident of St Vincent’s Glasnevin, an orphanage operated by the Christian Brothers. Fr Moore’s evidence is discussed in detail later in this chapter.

7.40The Investigation Committee also heard evidence from Dr Paul McQuaid, consultant psychiatrist, who was a regular visitor to Artane in the late 1960s.

7.41The Investigation Committee engaged experts to prepare reports on Artane. Mazars, a firm of accountants and financial consultants, analysed the accounts of the Institution and produced a report which was provided to the Congregation for comment and response. The issues concerning Artane are analysed in the Mazars’ report which is dealt with in Vol IV. As indicated above, Mr Ciaran Fahy, consulting engineer, prepared a report on the buildings and lands of the Institution, which was similarly sent for comment and which is also annexed (to the chapter).

Concessions and submissions

7.42The Investigation Committee received submissions from the Christian Brothers in relation to Artane in February 2007. A number of complainants and individual respondents also made written submissions on the oral and documentary evidence that emerged during the inquiry.

7.43The Christian Brothers made similar submissions regarding Artane as they made in relation to other institutions. In particular, they submitted that:

an analysis of all the evidence before the Commission strongly suggests that, at a time of significant economic deprivation in the State, the Congregation fully and properly discharged its legal and moral obligations to care for the boys in Artane and that it did so notwithstanding limited financial and related support from the State. Further, in spite of considerable restrictions, the Congregation adopted a progressive and reforming approach to childcare which became particularly apparent in the 1960s. When one takes all of the evidence before the Commission into account, there can be no doubt that, at all times, the welfare and best interests of the boys was the paramount concern of the Congregation and of its members who worked in Artane. The evidence would also suggest that the quality of care which was thus provided to the boys was, in all the circumstances, of a particularly high standard.

7.44The Congregation accepted that the regime was mainly one of physical care and did not encompass much in the way of emotional attention. The Brothers denied that the Institution was generally an abusive one, and their fundamental contention was that Artane was a positive Institution which generally was a force for good.

7.45With regard to sexual abuse, they acknowledged that such incidents had happened, and they greatly regretted them. They said that, as a Congregation, it did not tolerate such behaviour and the available evidence, they claimed, showed that they responded appropriately according to the norms of the time, even if present standards would condemn them.

7.46As to allegations of physical abuse, the Congregation was also generally defensive. It maintained that this issue had to be seen in the context of the time, when corporal punishment was permitted, not only in industrial schools but in all schools, and was also common in homes across the country. Moreover, the Christian Brothers’ own rules forbade excessive punishment and encouraged a minimalist approach to the physical punishment of children. Where excessive punishment occurred, it was disapproved of, and the records of the Congregation showed that, where instances came to light, they were the subject of comment and criticism. A Disciplinarian was employed in the School to deal with all serious breaches of discipline, and that promoted consistency of treatment.

7.47They maintained that there was overall a good relationship between Brothers and boys in Artane, and the picture of a frightening regime with a climate of fear was a misrepresentation of the situation.

7.48The positions adopted by individual respondents were more consistent with the evidence of the complainants.


7.49In accordance with the legislation, the Committee was required to determine what abuse took place in Artane, how it happened, how much of the particular abuse was perpetrated, and why it happened. This chapter addresses the different forms of abuse, which can be summarised as physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and emotional abuse. The method adopted in this and other chapters, in dealing with specific abuse, is first to analyse documentary material which may be considered reliable, and then to proceed to the oral evidence given by complainants and respondents, and to relate it where appropriate to the documented evidence. A further question has also to be considered, namely whether the Institution provided a safe, secure environment for the boys who were detained in it.

7.50With regard to the oral evidence of complainants, the Congregation in its submissions drew attention to features that it maintained detracted from the credibility and reliability of testimony of abuse. It pointed out that the events in question happened many years ago, and witnesses’ memories were less reliable because of the lapse of time. They also pointed to interference of independent recollection by reason of contact with other former residents and by attendance at meetings promoted by campaigning groups. Other relevant features included media publicity and issues of compensation. These problems were exacerbated in the investigation of Artane because it was the biggest institution and one of the most controversial.

7.51Any investigation of an institution such as Artane has to be aware of the possibility that evidence may be lacking in credibility or reliability for many reasons. Memories can indeed be affected by lapse of time. Witnesses whose credibility is not in issue may nevertheless be mistaken in their recollection of particular events. Influences may operate even subconsciously. A tendency to exaggerate the details of events also cannot be overlooked. Some witnesses intentionally set out to give untruthful evidence. The campaign for recognition and redress for wrongs alleged to have been committed in the past was not a reason to reject the testimony of everybody involved. The fact that witnesses attended meetings or spoke to others was relevant in considering the value of their evidence, but was not a basis for rejecting it as necessarily unreliable.

7.52There can be no general rule, in Artane or elsewhere, either to accept or to reject the evidence of witnesses who may have been affected by factors tending to reduce the reliability of their evidence. Each witness has to be considered individually. As with evidence in a civil or criminal trial in court, the Committee may accept or reject the whole or any part of the testimony offered.

7.53Grounds for questioning reliability of evidence were not confined to complainants. Respondents also were subject to lapses of memory and potential distortions of recollection. In some cases, the reliability of evidence could have been affected by the gravity of the allegations made against respondents themselves or against their colleagues; loyalty and affection for others, and for the Institution and the Congregation, may also have had a distorting influence on their testimony.

7.54The approach taken by the Committee, of proceeding from analysis of documentary material containing contemporary accounts of incidents and then, where possible, assessing the oral evidence by reference thereto, tended to lessen the occasions where it was necessary to choose between witnesses asserting and denying particular events.

7.55The Committee was satisfied that its approach yielded an accurate picture of the Institution and the matters which it was required to determine.

Physical abuse


7.56The role of corporal punishment in the management of the Institution is central to this topic. The Congregation accept that it was part of the disciplinary regime, but it also contends that Artane was no different in that respect from other schools, and that corporal punishment was also a feature of home life for many children at the time. Against a background of widespread use of corporal punishment, they contend that the system of discipline in Artane was not stricter than it was in primary schools. They do, however, concede that there were cases of excessive punishment by Christian Brothers in Artane. Some of those were documented in the Congregation’s records that were made available by way of discovery of documents to the Investigation Committee. The Brothers point to these records as evidence that the Congregation did not overlook or condone excesses in physical punishment. They also accept that there may have been more cases, but they are reluctant to go further by way of concession on this issue than was required by the documentary material in the Congregation’s archives. In coming to their position on physical abuse, the Brothers did not take into account the allegations that were made by complainants in their written statements.

7.57The spokesman for the Christian Brothers at Phases I and III of the hearings was Br Michael Reynolds, who conceded that:

There are three and possibly four cases there where I would say yes, there was certainly very severe punishment administered. I am not saying that is the totality of it, I am saying that is what I can work out of on record. I would say the discipline was quite strict and corporal punishment was used and so on. What I am saying is I don’t think that even in relation to physical punishment that it was an abusive institution by the standards of the time.

7.58He was then asked if he accepted that it probably went further than that and he replied:

I do, yes. Unfortunately I am doing that in one sense off the top of my head or from a gut feeling rather than saying – if I was challenged on that I can’t stand it up with documentation because I haven’t got it, but I am not saying that in the absence of documentation that nothing else happened other than what was documented here.

7.59In relation to documentary sources, Br Reynolds was unable to explain the absence of a punishment book, which was required by regulations to be kept, but he accepted the obvious point that such a record would have assisted the inquiry. Indeed, as appears from the discussion of this matter below, maintaining that book would also have tended to reduce excesses.

7.60The Congregation’s concessions stopped far short of what the complainants alleged and did not even match the admissions of individual respondents. Among the latter witnesses were Brothers and former Brothers who expressed sympathy with the boys and agreed with much of their evidence, and a number of them were also prepared to admit their own failings and frustrations and to criticise the system generally. The Congregation engaged a barrister, Mr Bernard Dunleavy, to report privately on a number of institutions, including Artane. In the course of this research, some Brothers were much more candid in interviews with Mr Dunleavy than were the Brothers who appeared before the Investigation Committee.

7.61Complainants alleged that the regime of discipline was unlawful, cruel and unjust. They claimed that it was impossible to avoid punishment in Artane, and that punishment was administered inconsistently, irrationally and capriciously by different Brothers. They alleged that, even if a boy obeyed all the rules and did what he was told, he could encounter a Brother who was in bad form or who had some other excuse for administering punishment. A boy might be punished for anything or for nothing. They maintained that there was a pervasive climate of fear in the Institution that came about because of the unbridled use of corporal punishment.

7.62Although Artane had an appointed Disciplinarian to deal with serious offences, all Brothers carried leathers and administered punishment for a wide variety of infractions, and other adults were also permitted to punish. Witnesses did not generally complain about punishment that they felt was deserved, even if it was severe.

7.63One long-serving Disciplinarian was acknowledged, by all the former residents who spoke about him, to have been strict but fair even though he sometimes punished them severely. This Brother was named and accused of physical abuse in many complainants’ statements, but the Investigation Committee did not find that the evidence at Phase II supported such a conclusion.

7.64The Investigation Committee had to choose between conflicting accounts of the regime in Artane on the fundamental issue as to whether uncontrolled corporal punishment was a feature of the system, so that physical abuse was systemic, or whether there were occasional contraventions of the rules that did not undermine a proper system of management.

7.65The material available to the Investigation Committee in considering this issue included:

  • The evidence of former residents and members of staff.
  • The evidence of Dr Paul McQuaid, Consultant Child Psychiatrist, who did some work and research in Artane.
  • The report written by Fr Henry Moore in 1962, together with his evidence to the Investigation Committee.
  • Department of Education discovery.
  • Garda Síochána discovery.
  • Contemporary documents including the Visitation Reports compiled by the Christian Brothers during the period under review.
  • Letters on the subject of corporal punishment provided by the Christian Brothers.

Documentary evidence

Br Noonan’s attempts to limit corporal punishment

7.66Br Noonan was Superior General of the Congregation from 1930 to 1949. He was anxious to reduce the reliance on corporal punishment and he admonished those who were intemperate in its use. There are some grounds for believing he did keep down its excessive use during his tenure of office. Letters written by him make it clear that the management of the Congregation knew excessive and frequent use of corporal punishment was a problem from the beginning of the period of this inquiry.

7.67A Visitation Report in the early 1930s described an extraordinary penalty imposed on a Brother in the refectory:

Br Sebastien5 erred on two occasions in punishing boys severely. The Superior reproved him publicly and ordered him to make a public apology, on his knees in the Refectory … Br Sebastien was honestly penitent and determined to amend. Indeed he is on the whole a good young Brother.

7.68The severity of the punishment meted out to the boys to warrant this extraordinary reprimand was not disclosed, but Br Sebastien did not mend his ways and continued to punish boys excessively. Evidence of his subsequent conduct was found in a letter to him in 1937 from the Superior General, Br Noonan, who made it clear that he deplored severe physical punishment:

In order to make your life more pleasing to God by fidelity to your obligations I wish to point out two rather serious faults mentioned in the suffrages I received about you. One is your severity to the boys. This is indefensible; it is in every way against the canons of the teaching profession. Punishment in a moderate way is allowed; but severity is altogether to be avoided. It injures the boy’s feelings and never produces real improvement. Let Christ be your Model; He was meek and kindness itself, yet He was the greatest Teacher the world has ever known. Do not imagine you have discovered better methods in harshness and severity.

7.69The second fault referred to in the letter concerned his vow of poverty.

7.70In a similar letter in 1935, Br Noonan wrote to Br Jules6 in Artane:

You incline to the harsh side in school both in language and in inflicting bodily pain. Pupils hate sarcasm and they have a keen sense of what is just and fair in punishment. If you would secure respect for yourself and for your teaching be kind and just towards your pupils. It is said you are a poor student yourself. Perhaps it is due to your failure to make preparation for your work as a teacher that your pupils are made to suffer doubly.

7.71Br Jules previously worked in Tralee in the 1930s, where his behaviour had also come to the attention of the Provincial and a Visitor. Whilst in Tralee, he was accused of beating a boy severely. When he was asked for an explanation of this severe corporal punishment, Br Jules wrote to the Provincial claiming that the Industrial School Inspector had advised him to give the boy special physical training to remedy a physical defect. The boy failed to perform an exercise on this occasion, though formerly he had been capable of doing so, and he had therefore been punished. Br Jules acknowledged that this punishment was excessive in the circumstances.

7.72Less than a month later, the Visitor commented that Br Jules had his:

boys in a state of terror. He maintains a harsh, unnatural discipline. His boys show this. At times, he has been very severe and has treated individual boys in a cruel manner. He does not seem to realise that he is severe or if he does he will not admit it. Br Karcsi7 is being drawn to follow his bad example however, Br Karcsi is by no means so bad … Were it not for the occasional outbreaks of severity on the part of Br Jules, and his general harsh manner in dealing with them, the school would hold a high place amongst our Institutions.

7.73Br Jules had been due to take his perpetual vows, but was rejected. The following year, it was noted that he was too exacting in school. He showed ‘little devotedness to study’ and was ‘troublesome, crossgrained’. It was concluded that he ‘has not had good record – doubtful candidate’. He was, however, ultimately allowed to take his vows.

7.74He moved from Tralee to Artane, where he stayed until the 1950s. He later worked for six years in Glin.

7.75Br Beaufort8 was on the staff of Artane throughout the 1940s and early 1950s, having previously worked in Tralee,9 where he received a letter from Br Noonan, Superior General of the Congregation, warning him about his temper and the risk he posed of causing serious bodily harm to the boys:

A still more dangerous weakness in you was mentioned in the suffrages. You are passionate in your dealings with the boys. In fact at times you show so little control of your temper that you are in danger of inflicting serious bodily harm on the boys by your manner of correcting them. Watch yourself and pray to God to give you some of His meekness and forbearance. Never punish a boy in any way except what is permitted by the Rule. Forgive easily the small failings of your pupils and in this way more good will be done than by harsh treatment.

7.76The Investigation Committee heard evidence from complainants about Br Beaufort. A witness recalled an example of his temper, when he suffered the kind of serious bodily harm apprehended by Br Noonan. Br Beaufort thought that the boy was laughing at him in class and responded impetuously:

he jumped straight at me, picked me up, threw me like a dog around the place. I hit desks, hit the floor. I landed after some time on the floor. The commotion of boys screaming had brought Br Quintrell,10 who was in 11 school, which was the next school, he flew in and pulled him off. I know I was unconscious, and I know to God that if it hadn’t been for him coming in, I do not think I would be here today, in all honesty. The attack was vicious. Moments later, he was apologising, crying.

7.77At the time of this incident, the boy was recovering from injuries to his hand sustained from an accident in the carpenter’s shop, which was confirmed by the infirmary records. The wounds opened in the assault by Br Beaufort. In addition, the witness complained of lacerations and injuries to his left eye and neck. Some of his teeth were broken, he lost one tooth on one side of his mouth and two on the other. He was brought to the infirmary after the attack and when he had quietened down he was taken to the dormitory. Until this incident he had had no difficulty with Br Beaufort, whom he described as friendly.

7.78Another witness, who was in Artane from 1945 to 1950, claimed that Br Beaufort oscillated between kindness and impetuous violence.

7.79In conclusion:

  • Notwithstanding the opposition of the Superior General to excessive and intemperate punishment and clear guidance given to Brothers, the problem persisted.
  • The Superior General expressed himself in the restrained, admonitory language of pastoral counselling rather than issuing direct instructions.
  • In circumstances where every Brother in Artane was given a leather for corporal punishment of the boys, it is difficult to see how these excesses could be avoided. Restricting the leather to the Disciplinarian would have had a direct effect on preventing capricious and excessive punishment, and Br Noonan could have directed that this be done.

Letter of complaint to the Department of Education by former resident

7.80In 1946 a former resident of Artane (from 1929 to 1935) began to correspond with the Department of Education regarding conditions at Artane. Initially, his complaints related to the primitive sanitation system in operation in the Institution. Then, in a letter dated 6th November, he wrote:

It is 11 yrs since I was in Artane and I dont forget one minute of it, neither do others, the injustices done to others and myself, I will see; wont happen to others:

Boys beaten, under the Shower Baths by Staff Mr Byrne,11 Boys heads beaten on the Handball Alley Wall by Bro Acel12 And a Drill Master who used say “do it where you Stand” when a Boy ask to go to the W.C.

7.81In a memorandum dated 8th November 1946, the Assistant Secretary in the Department of Education agreed with the Inspector that no action was required in response to this letter. No response was sent to the former resident and no comment was sought from the Resident Manager.


  • The attitude of the Department of Education to a serious complaint was dismissive. No attempt was made to establish the veracity of the complaints.

Br Maurice13

7.83A Visitation Report in the late 1930s was critical of a Brother for his free use of the ‘slapper’, which was a shorter and thinner strap than the leather. The Visitor noted that the boys were:

well disciplined and I am happy to be able to say that there was no evidence of undue or severe corporal punishment. I was assured by practically all the Brothers that there is very little corporal punishment indulged in. I did come across one case of the free use of the slapper. This was in the class room of Br Maurice. He gave about 16 slaps one after the other. I walked in just at the end. The slaps were not severe and the effect could only help towards demoralising the poor lads. I had a word with Br Wiatt14 and asked him to help Br Maurice to establish his control without having recourse to the useless method of indiscriminate slapping. But it is indeed satisfactory to find that there is very little corporal punishment and that in recent times there has not occurred any instance of undue severity. Br Eliot15 is Master of Discipline and is doing very well in this position. He is very anxious to do his best and he is succeeding very well in his exacting duties. There is still too much reliance on the slapper and not enough on personal influence. The only member of the staff who has succeeded in getting along with the boys without having recourse to corporal punishment is Br Dennet.16 His personal influence is very great, and his single-mindedness and truly Christ-like attitude in his dealing with his boys is having a marked effect for good on them.

7.84In view of the content of this section of his report, it is hard to understand how the Visitor could have been assured that there was very little corporal punishment indulged in. The comment that it was ‘satisfactory to find that there is very little corporal punishment’ was contradicted by the criticisms he went on to make. He noted that only one member of the staff had ‘succeeded in getting along with the boys without having recourse to corporal punishment’, and there was ‘too much reliance on the slapper and not enough on personal influence’. Furthermore, his comment, ‘It is indeed satisfactory … that in recent times that there has not occurred any instance of undue severity’ implied that there had been such instances in the past.


  • At the very least, this report showed there was a problem regarding the use of corporal punishment in Artane. Only one Brother could maintain discipline without using the leather.

Br Eriq17

7.86Br Eriq worked in Artane for less than a year in the late 1940s. He left in April, not August, which was the usual time for Brothers to be moved. Br Eriq had previously worked in Tralee in the late 1930s, where three consecutive Visitation Reports were critical of his severity towards the boys. A full account is contained in the Tralee chapter.

Br Olivier18

7.87The Inspector of Industrial Schools wrote, in July 1949, asking for details of an incident involving Br Olivier, and the Resident Manager replied three days later:

Last year [the mother of a boy] happened to visit the School the very day her second son … had a black eye. She mentioned the matter to me, and I investigated it there and then. Apparently the Brother losing his temper in class gave the boy a blow on the face with the palm of his hand, and next day the skin was discoloured. (Of course the discolouration disappeared within a few days.) I spoke to the Brother implicated (Br Olivier) and made it clear that such should not happen again. And as far as I know nothing has happened since then.

7.88Br Olivier gave evidence to the Investigation Committee. He did not recall being reprimanded by the Resident Manager for using excessive violence, but he thought that an elderly teacher had told him to keep his temper in check.

7.89Br Olivier served in Artane in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He said that all Brothers were issued with a leather strap to maintain discipline, and commented:

The danger with that is this; that it could be used excessively … depending on the type of person you were. You could be somebody with a short fuse like myself, I have to admit I had the short fuse, and there would be times perhaps when … you would be inclined to use it. You see it was the only armoury you had … In fairness I would say though that the Rules of the Congregation laid down, I am just thinking back and I want to be fair to the Brothers as well, rules are there maybe to be broke, but it was specified that corporal punishment should never be used for failure in lessons, that type of thing.

… I could go a week, a month, without ever giving a slap to a fella, it could happen. I am not trying to make myself out that I am a saint or that I wouldn’t use it, I certainly would indeed, and I’m awfully sorry …

7.90He said he did not adhere to the rules regarding corporal punishment very often. He did not recall the rules being brought to his attention while in Artane. He had never seen a punishment book:

I could have slapped a fella maybe on the face or something like that. I might even hit a fella a punch in the back. It could have happened.

7.91Several witnesses complained about Br Olivier’s excessive use of physical punishment. One witness said he used to punch boys on the jaw without warning. The Brother responded to this allegation by saying:

Yes. That could be. I am not denying it. I cannot remember any specific case … but I am not denying that such a thing could have happened.

7.92Another witness told the Committee, ‘life with Br Olivier was one long beating … for one reason or another’.

7.93This witness described in detail an incident which he believed was a punishment for trying to get out of playing hurling, the sport in the charge of Br Olivier. The witness described how he developed a blister on his finger and tried to lance it with a needle, as he had seen his grandmother doing. He said that Br Olivier, however:

… accused me of deliberately trying to harm myself to avoid going training. He said he would cure it for me. That evening in the dormitory, him and Br Boyce19 called me into the boot room … they had a kidney shaped utensil and boiling water. They got hold of me and I realised what they were going to do and I tried to make a run for it. The pair of them got hold of me and Br Olivier got my finger and shoved it in. I screamed and roared and tried to pull it back and they held it. After 10 or 15 seconds the pain went. It just went numb and it was bearable. They held it in for a while and out it come. That’s when he told me to walk the passageway, gangway which was linoleum in the centre of the dormitory. As time went on it swelled, it swelled. He obviously went to bed.

7.94The night watchman found the boy, who had not gone to bed because of the instruction from the Brothers to ‘walk the passageway, gangway’, and told him to go to bed:

The next morning I got up my finger was a white ball of flesh, waterlogged. I reported sick, I reported to Br Cretien20, which you had to do to get to see the nurse. I told the nurse what happened. I was treated at least a month or six weeks until eventually all the skin peeled off. Sometimes the nurse would cut it. After some weeks I was like a plucked chicken, bare skin. In time the skin grew back on the nail. To this day that finger, especially in cold weather, is numb, there is no feeling in it. I swear they must have burned the nerve ends.

7.95Br Olivier gave his account of the incident:

… I was trying to help him, I was trying to cure him. That was a common thing long ago in the country, a bread poultice, you know, in water, like, before it comes to the boil. That’s what I tried to do with him. He looked upon it as a penance I think, but I didn’t mean it as a penance.

7.96The complainant told the Investigation Committee that there was no bread involved. The records show he was treated in the infirmary for a septic finger and that the Artane general practitioner saw him to treat the finger on two occasions, although the witness did not recall being seen by the doctor.

7.97The Investigation Committee was faced with two conflicting versions of the motivation for this incident. On the one hand, Br Olivier claimed it was an attempt to treat a septic finger. On the other hand, the complainant firmly believed he was being punished for injuring himself to avoid games.

7.98If the main motive was treatment, then the treatment should have been administered with due care, to ensure no further injury would result. There was an infirmary with a trained nurse available, and no explanation was offered as to why this facility was not used. The two Brothers opted to use instead a ‘hot poultice’ and clearly did not ensure the water was of a low enough temperature to prevent scalding.

7.99There were, however, elements of punishment to the whole procedure. The boy was so terrified that he tried to make a run for it. Despite being in obvious pain, he was then made to walk the corridor. Normal resources for treating sick children were not used, suggesting the Brothers did not take the injury to the finger seriously. Given these facts, it is not surprising the boy believed he was being punished, rather than treated, for his affliction.

7.100Moreover, the respondents’ defence was more cautious than a totally innocent explanation of the incident would suggest. In cross-examination, the complainant was initially told that Br Boyce had no recollection of the event, casting doubt on whether it had taken place. When he gave evidence, however, Br Boyce recalled the incident and said the water was not boiling. It turned out that both Brothers could recall the event, but insisted the motive was driven solely by concern to cure the finger.

7.101The occurrence of the event was no longer in dispute. Nor was it in dispute that he was treated for some weeks for a septic finger. The boy’s feeling that it was more punishment than treatment does not seem surprising. Subsequent events proved he needed care and professional treatment.

7.102A second, subsequent incident happened some considerable period later when the boy again failed to attend training. Br Olivier, he said:

took me into the washroom. What we used to do if a Brother was going to beat you that night we tried to hang on as long as we could with our trousers on and our clothes. If you stripped off you only had a night-shirt. You didn’t have pyjamas. I thought he is not going to come, good. I stripped off. Sure enough he came in.

He brought me into the washroom. He told me to kneel down on the floor and he stood over me with his arms folded. He was quite cool and calm and he said ‘I have told you now more than once to come out and I am going to give you the hiding of your life’ real calm. He was enjoying it. He said ‘hold your hand out. Hold your left hand out and don’t drop it until I tell you’. He took this leather strap out and he gave me four or five straps. I couldn’t hold it out any longer because the strap was starting to go up my arm. I had welts on it. I dropped it. He said ‘I have warned you not to drop your hand. Now, put your other hand out’ and I did. He started to beat me again. Again I dropped it. He said, ‘I did tell you’ and he went berserk. When you seen this man when he lost his temper he was like a wolf. His jaws literally went out and he bared his teeth and he just lashed at me. I was running trying to get away from him. He hit me, it didn’t matter where, legs, back, head, anywhere. During that I must have passed out because when I came around there was water running on my head and the taps from these baths were about that wide … real old fashioned taps. I must have thought I was dreaming it. Then I thought I was drowning. I drew back and I cracked my head on the nozzle of the tap so I had blood coming down, I had tears, I was soaking wet. He wasn’t finished then. He threw me on the ground and he said ‘you’ll walk that floor for the rest of the night. Of all nights I thought the watchman would come but the watchman didn’t come that night. Nobody came and I walked that passage until 6.30 the next morning. I was so terrified of going to bed that he might come back and beat me again. I walked the whole night without sleep, I swear to God ….

The injuries, you just put up with them. I was black and blue but I just had to put up with them … I never missed a session after that, I can assure you.

7.103In evidence, Br Olivier queried the complainant’s recollection in relation to this incident, as Br Olivier said that he would not have been training boys of the complainant’s age at this time.

7.104Br Olivier did not recall the incident but, with honesty, again said ‘I am capable and I am ashamed to say I am capable of that’. His approach was clear and candid, because he refused to say that it did not happen simply because he could not remember the incident. He was willing to take responsibility for his general behaviour, even though the details of the complainant’s account did not make sense to him or trigger a memory. There was no dispute that such an incident could have happened, and the likely explanation was that the complainant was mistaken about the time lapse between the events he described.

7.105Br Olivier was also involved in a shocking incident that began when a 12-year-old boy accidentally defecated on the floor in the sports dressing room. The Brother came on the scene and some of the excrement ended up on his shoes. The Garda statements made by the witnesses differ as to how this happened, and the precise sequence of events, but what is admitted in statements made by Br Olivier is that he told the boy to lick the excrement from his shoes and he did so. The Brother, in his statement to the Gardaí, said that he was shocked when the boy did this and told him to stop: ‘I only said it out of frustration. I didn’t mean him to do it’.

7.106In the 1990s, Br Olivier wrote an apology to the former resident. A copy was furnished to the Committee by the Congregation. Br Gibson had asked him about a statement made by the former resident. Br Olivier’s letter to the man was as follows:

Br Gibson … brought to my attention a statement you made to him some time ago.

I am deeply saddened to learn of your pain and hurt and I sincerely offer you my humble apology for my part in causing any of the above pain and hurt.

I hope you find in the goodness of your heart the courage to forgive me and I promise to remember you always in my prayers.

I pray and hope that you will find peace of mind and happiness in your life.

May God bless and protect you always.

Sincerely yours.

7.107In his written response to the Investigation Committee, Br Olivier gave a full account of the incident as he remembered it, and repeated this apology. He wrote:

On the day in question I was playing football with another Brother in a field far away from the dressing room.

When we finished playing we returned to the dressing room to change and I noticed [the complainant] coming out of the dressing room. I asked him what he was doing there and he said he had to go to the toilet. I brought him back in and noticed the floor and my shoes were covered in faeces. I told him to clean up the mess and he replied he had nothing to clean it with. I spontaneously told him to lick it, meaning my shoes. To my horror he proceeded to do so and I immediately told him to stop and to go back to the class or he would be late. I did not give him any beating or bath and I proceeded to clean my shoes and the floor myself.

On the day in question I was not on duty. I also wish to state that I never refused anyone permission to go to the toilet in my entire teaching career.

I repeat the unqualified apology I made to [the complainant] sometime ago when this incident was brought to my attention.

7.108He was specific in his statement that the apology was for asking the boy to lick excrement off his shoes. In that sense, it is indeed an ‘unqualified apology’. However, the Christian Brothers, in their response to the complainant’s allegations, wrote:

[The complainant] describes in detail an occasion, while out training, he had stomach cramps, and accidentally defected himself. He claims that he was terrified that Brother Olivier would find out, so he hid his soiled clothing. Brother Olivier ultimately found the clothes and stained his shoes on the soiled clothing. [The complainant] alleges that Brother Olivier made him lick his boots clean. This alleged act took place in front of an ‘entire group’. [The complainant] continues that the group was asked to leave and he was then “subjected to a beating from Brother Olivier which lasted about 5 minutes”. In relation to the allegations made against Brother Olivier I would like to refer to a letter dated the … addressed to [the complainant] from [Br Olivier] In this letter [he] wrote “I am deeply saddened to learn of your pain and hurt and I sincerely offer my humble apology for my part of the above pain and suffering”. While this letter acknowledges [the complainant’s] alleged pain, the letter is not intended to be an admission of the allegations made against Brother Olivier.

7.109There is a marked contrast between the apologetic position taken by Br Olivier and that of the Congregation. The Brother admitted the essence of the complaint, namely that he told the boy to lick excrement; the Congregation adopted an exculpatory position, despite the fact that the Brother and the complainant agreed that the incident essentially did take place. Br Olivier made an unqualified apology in his letter for the purpose of making amends, whereas the Congregation’s submission put the best gloss on a situation that had the potential for embarrassment for the Brother and the Congregation. The effect was to detract from the force of the apology that was always meant to be ‘unqualified’.

7.110The former resident did not proceed with his complaint before the Investigation Committee.


  • The Brother’s spontaneous response to the unfortunate and embarrassing incident when the boy defecated was an abuse of power. When he was confronted about it years later he was able to admit what had happened and to apologise to the victim. The Congregation’s failure to do the same was regrettable.

Br Cyrano21 – a broken arm

7.112In the mid-1950s, the mother of a boy in Artane wrote to the Department of Education to ask if she could be allowed to see her son, who had sustained a broken arm and head injuries during the previous week. She also asked if the incident could be investigated. She wrote:

I heard during the week that my boy Thomas22 Artane School had an arm broken as a result of a blow with a brush by one of the brothers I call to the school yesterday and the superior admitted that one of the brothers had given him a blow and that his arm was broken I did not see the boy23 but I believe he was attending another hospital for treatment the superior said he had it xrayed and seen the result the arm is in Plaster of Paris I also heard that his head was bandaged during the week Im very worried over it and I called on Sunday to see him and was not allowed If it could be arranged for me to see him to ease my mind. In any case please have the matter investigated and let me no the result.

7.113The Department asked for a full report on the incident and asked if arrangements could be made for the mother to visit her son. The boy’s father, who was resident in England, also wrote to the School asking for a report on the matter. It is clear from a letter from the Department of Education to the School that a report was furnished but it has not survived. In this letter, the Inspector of Industrial Schools wrote:

The incident referred to should have been reported immediately to this Office and the boy’s parent should also have been notified of the boy’s injury without delay and the parent should have been allowed to see the boy when she requested.

In connection with the administering of corporal punishment in the school, I am to refer to the Circular no. 11/46 of the 1st November, 1946 “Discipline and Punishment in Certified Schools” (copy enclosed) and I am to suggest that the terms of that Circular should be brought to the notice of the School Staff from time to time.

7.114Given the seriousness of the injuries to the boy, these reprimands are slight. The Department’s powerlessness to take further action is evident in this case.

7.115The incident was then raised in the Dáil and was covered by the Press. The TD, Captain Peadar Cowan, regretted having to raise the matter in the Dáil, but he said that:

the House will want an assurance from the Minister, and the country will want an assurance from him, that punishment, if it is to be inflicted on those sent to industrial schools, will be inflicted by some person of experience and responsibility. If punishment were to be imposed in a fit of hot temper, it would be exceptionally bad and, in fact, as in this case, it would be dangerous.

… The very fact that the incident did occur shows how necessary it is that this House, through the machinery of the Department of Education and through the Minister charged with that responsibility, should have the closest supervision of schools such as this, where children, many of them without parents at all, are sent to be brought up.

7.116The Minister for Education agreed, ‘I think the punishment should be administered … by a responsible person in conditions of calm judgment’.

7.117The Minister then added:

Apart from my high regard for the Brothers concerned, the community concerned, there is also a very constant system of inspection for all such institutions. I personally have visited practically all of them … I know in that particular school how deep is the anxiety for the children’s spiritual and physical welfare. This is an isolated incident; it can only happen again as an accident.

7.118This response implied that the regular inspections of the School included consideration of the administration of corporal punishment. There is, however, no evidence that the inspections conducted on the Department’s behalf included an examination of the use of corporal punishment. Punishment books were not kept. Neither the General Inspection Report nor the Report on Medical Aspects of School Accommodation referred to this matter on the standard printed inspection form. There are no references to it in the general observations and suggestions section. Although one of the Brothers in this incident recalled being interviewed by Dr McCabe24 about it, no report from her survives in the records. The report from Dr McCabe following her next annual inspection made no reference to the incident, or to the question of punishment in the School.

7.119In one newspaper, under the headline, ‘Boy Wasn’t Beaten, Say Teachers’ the journalist wrote:

A boy in a school for delinquents had his arm broken when he resisted a beating, the Dáil was told before it broke up this week, but teachers at the school gave a different version of what happened … Captain Peader Cowan told the Dáil that the boy resisted [being] slapped on the hands with the leather … The boy, said Captain Cowan, grabbed a sweeping brush to resist the punishment, but was struck on the arm by it as two Brothers wrested it from him … When I visited the school yesterday, teachers told me the story had been exaggerated. The boy was hurt when he attacked the Brother with a brush, they said.

7.120The Congregation referred to this incident in its Opening Statement. They commented:

Although there are differences of opinion concerning precisely how the injury was caused and when the mother was allowed to see the boy, it is quite clear that the boy was injured and that his arm was broken. The Brother in question was transferred out of Artane.

7.121At the first public hearing on 15th September 2005, Br Reynolds, speaking for the Christian Brothers, was asked if he found it appropriate for the Congregation to effect such a transfer under the circumstances, and he replied:

It wasn’t appropriate. I would say it wouldn’t have been uncommon in various places at the time. Certainly that one is the most serious incident we have and it was handled badly I would say from all aspects of it. The other thing that gives some sort of indicator or is indicative of society at the time and what surprised me when I read it that even Peader Cowan, the TD who alerted the Dáil to it at the end of it said, “this is an isolated incident and it won’t happen again” and so on. That came as a surprise to me, but I am taking that as indicative of the times as well. It’s probably indicative of the attitude that somebody who did something of that nature could be transferred elsewhere.25

7.122The boy whose arm was broken is now deceased. The only witness available to the Investigation Committee was Br Michel,26 who was involved in the incident with Br Cyrano. Br Cyrano made a statement at the time, in which he said:

As I was asking Br Michel something about the Easter tests he mentioned that a boy … had caused him trouble that morning. He asked me what should he do and I told him that it would be better to give some punishment as he would only cause trouble again. I closed my door and began writing on the black board. During this time I could hear the boy talking and saying “I won’t give in if you keep at me for a week”. The boy was making remarks similar to this but I could not hear them to make them out. My own class stopped their work when they heard the noise next door. I knew from this that the boy was resisting punishment. I continued writing on the board and suddenly the door was opened in a hurry. A boy from Br Michel’s class entered saying that [he] wanted me immediately. I dropped the chalk and went in. As I entered I saw Br Michel and the boy in a corner. Br Michel was holding the boy who in turn had a brush raised as if to hit [him]. I lost my temper and in the spur of the moment I caught the brush and hit the boy. But how often or where I hit him I can’t say for definite. Then I gave the brush to another boy and told him to leave [it] at the far end of the room. As I was going back to my own room again I noticed the boy looking at his arm. I asked him to bend it which he did. I then left the classroom and went back to my own.

7.123Following the incident, a fellow pupil took the boy to the infirmary. The infirmary record read as follows:

… Injury to arm (Accident in schoolroom) Iodex dressing and crepe bandage. Head dressed and bandaged. Taken back to school by boy who brought him to the infirmary.

7.124This treatment indicates that the boy had lacerations to his arm and head, in addition to the fracture that was later diagnosed. The severity of the beating must have been obvious.

7.125A doctor did not see him until the next day, when the entry in the infirmary record read:

… Examined by Dr [name] – sent to Mater Hospital. X-rayed. Result: fracture. Put in plaster. To return [date]. Admitted to Infirmary.

7.126The boy continued to attend the Mater Hospital on a daily basis, and he was finally discharged two months after his first attendance.

7.127Had the mother not written asking for an investigation into the matter, these two infirmary records would have been the only written evidence of the incident. It was simply recorded as an ‘accident’, and no Brother was mentioned as being involved.

7.128Six days after the mother’s letter of complaint was written, Br Cyrano, who had struck the blows, wrote to the Provincial of the Congregation:

I am very sorry for all the damage I have done to the Brothers of Artane Community and to the Brothers in general. I have been very much upset and worried since it has happened. I will never forget it all my life. I would like if you would give me a change, as I would never really settle down again in Artane. As a favour I would be very much obliged if you considered my case, in making the change …

7.129These two contemporary documents within the records of the Congregation contain no details at all about the nature of the incident and the personnel involved. The infirmary record wrongly described it as an accident, with no indication that the fracture was the result of a deliberate blow, and the Brother’s letter expresses concern about the damage done to the Congregation rather than concern about what had happened to the boy. Even so, the fact that he was so upset and worried, and felt he would never be able to forget it, did not accord with Br Reynolds’s assertion that the attitude of the times to such incidents was not to view them as seriously as they would be viewed today.

7.130This document also revealed that Br Cyrano was transferred out of Artane at his own request, because he felt he could never settle down there again. The assertion that his transfer was the result of action taken by the Congregation, to remove him from his position in Artane, misrepresents what actually happened.

7.131Br Michel, the other Brother involved in the incident, appeared before the Investigation Committee and also expressed his remorse, describing it as ‘one of these things that I have to carry with me to the end of my life’. He said:

… a thing happened which I have found very difficult to bear ever since. It is 51 years ago now. In the classroom one morning, a young lad and myself – he wasn’t responding to the slaps that I was giving him, as far as I can recollect it now, and I was a young man, he was quite a hefty fellow. At any rate he decided to rush to the side of the classroom and grab a brush and went to strike me with it. Now I was absolutely nervous, didn’t know what to do and did the wrong thing, unfortunately. I called in another Brother, and he grabbed the brush from this young man and it all happened on the spur of the moment, regretfully. He did strike the young chap and he caused some injury to him. The matter was investigated at the time by the inspector for industrial schools and, regretfully, that other man was transferred out of the place.

7.132This Brother did not know that the transfer was made at the request of his colleague and thought it followed the Inspector’s investigation. Under questioning, he added:

It happened very very suddenly and in actual fact I didn’t realise there was any harm done, if you know what I mean, at the time until sometime afterwards, some days later.

7.133This young Brother had seen a boy hit several times with a brush, causing visible injuries to his head and arm and he ‘didn’t realise there was any harm done … at the time until sometime afterwards, some days later’. This simple statement indicates how a violent incident did not seem to be extraordinary in Artane. The extent of the harm done only emerged after the complaints had been made.

7.134Br Michel blamed himself for the incident. He said, ‘I was young, I was timid. I hadn’t the control I should have’. He then uttered the following apology, ‘I wish to apologise profusely to people that I offended and I feel I have done my best to put that before the Commission’.

7.135Neither of the Brothers escorted the boy to the infirmary: a fellow pupil took him. Br Cyrano, who struck the blow, appears to have suspected a fracture, because he wrote in his statement that he saw the boy looking at his arm and asked him to bend it, but he did not pass on that concern to the infirmary. The obvious severity of the injuries should have resulted in a full medical history being taken and a thorough examination.

7.136The TD who raised the matter in the Dáil took up the case as a solicitor and wrote making a claim. In correspondence, it was suggested that a payment could be made to the parents by way of settlement. The Christian Brothers at the time were willing to make a settlement in order to avoid proceedings, but they were advised that a payment would not prevent a claim being made when the boy reached his majority, and that payment should not be made to the parents. No agreement could be reached, and the matter apparently ended without any payment being made.

7.137In conclusion:

  • Young, inexperienced Brothers were left to cope with difficult children without adequate training, and without the support and supervision of a good management system.
  • There was no ordered system of discipline: control was maintained by force.
  • The gravity of inflicting serious injury on a boy was not apparent to the Brothers until an external complaint was made.
  • It should have been routine for the parents and the Department to be notified of a serious injury to a child, however it was caused. Failure to disclose such a serious incident immediately suggests that there was a policy of concealing damaging information.
  • Injuries inflicted by Brothers should have been fully investigated.
  • The infirmary record was wrong, and was not subsequently amended as it should have been.

Death of boy after fall

7.138An Artane boy’s death in the early 1950s was recalled by complainants and respondents as a tragic and traumatic event that affected everyone in the School at the time and left a lasting impression for years after the event. Many former residents, including some complainants, alleged the boy fell because he was being chased and punished by a staff member. For this reason, the Investigation Committee investigated the incident in full.

7.139At bed-time, around 8.30pm, Stephen Cavanagh27 fell some 14 feet to the ground and suffered injuries including gum and lip lacerations. He was brought to the Mater Hospital, where he underwent an operation under general anaesthetic to repair the lacerations of his mouth. His condition deteriorated after the operation and he did not respond to treatment, and he died in the early hours of the next day. A post-mortem examination was carried out and an inquest was held in the hospital the next day, resulting in a verdict of accidental death.

7.140A boy who was acting as monitor at the time of the incident told the inquest what he saw: the deceased went up the stairs to the dormitory with the other boys and then came back out onto the stairs and went to do a ‘circus trick’ in which he leaned his body on the handrail and slid down a short distance ‘when he seemed to overbalance and fall face downwards to the floor below’, which was a distance of over 14 feet. The injured boy had damaged his teeth and ‘put his hand to his left side as if he was hurt’. He was able to go into the dormitory to get his boots before he was taken to the hospital.

7.141A Brother who was on duty on the first-floor landing described in evidence to the Committee how the injured boy was being partly carried by another boy and was brought to the infirmary before being removed to hospital. He said there was no question of the boy being pushed or being pursued at the time and that ‘he just accidentally fell over the staircase’.

7.142The treating doctor at the Mater Hospital gave evidence to the inquest that the boy was admitted to the hospital at 9pm on the evening of the accident, with a history of having fallen about 14 feet and that, on examination, he was conscious and suffering from shock, with a laceration of the lower lip and lower gum, four upper front teeth missing and a bruise over the right lower jaw. The doctor decided to operate to repair the injury to the boy’s lip and gum, which he performed at around 12.30am. He described the anaesthetic that was given and said that an endotracheal tube and pack were placed in position. He continued: ‘After the operation was completed, his breathing became embarrassed, for which he was immediately treated, but in spite of this he did not respond, and died’. The doctor expressed his agreement with the evidence given by the pathologist as to the cause of death.

7.143The pathologist described the boy’s condition when he carried out the post mortem. Externally, there was a lacerated wound on the lower lip and the four central upper teeth were broken. There were superficial skin lacerations and bruises on the lower jaw near the chin. Internally, there were no fractures of the jaw or skull bones detected: ‘Both lungs were oedematous. The lower lobes, and the posterior half of the upper lobes of both lungs were congested with blood. The thymus gland was enlarged. The heart showed slight thickening and contraction of the cusps of the mitral valve. The veins on the surface of the brain were distended with blood, otherwise no abnormality was detected in the brain. All other organs examined appeared normal’. The pathologist then gave his opinion as to the cause of death which was embodied in the jury’s verdict: ‘Death in my opinion was due to cardiac and respiratory failure, secondary to acute congestion of the lungs following the injuries accelerated by general anaesthesia and probably predisposed to by the presence of an enlarged thymus gland’. The coroner added that he regarded the supervision of the Brothers as adequate.

7.144A Sergeant from Raheny Garda Station visited the School on the day following the accident and inspected the scene, and spoke to the boy who was acting as monitor, and gave evidence to the inquest about the location of the fall.

7.145The inquest concluded with a verdict of accidental death.

7.146The Resident Manager reported the matter to the Department of Education in a letter that was received six days after the accident, in which he briefly described the incident and expressed his understanding that the boy died when he ‘reacted unfavourably to the anaesthetic’. Dr Anna McCabe visited Artane two days later to get details of the accident. She reported the following day in a short note, in which she recorded that the inquest found that the ‘cause of death was attributed to anaesthesia’. She went on to say: ‘No negligence was attributable to the School’.

7.147— The evidence in this case does not support a conclusion that the Christian Brothers were at fault for the boy’s death. The precise reason why the boy died remains somewhat unclear because of the multiplicity of medical complications cited by the pathologist.

Br Gerrard28

7.148In the mid-1950s the father of a boy wrote to Br Gerrard, who was in charge of the boys’ kitchen, to complain about the treatment his son had received while working there. He wrote:


It has come to my notice about my son’s hand which is sepiet; and also the method used in your kitchen. My son is no robber and I hope you will be able to answer for the character you have given him, have you got any authority to use a rod with iron through it. You have noticed I hope I have not giving you the title of brother, as I don’t think you are fit to be one. I will make regular inspection of his body either at home or in the school. I have already wrote to the authorities about the matter.

I will expect a reply and explanation from you as soon as possible.

If the child concerned has suffer any Punishment through this letter I hope you will be prepared to face a court of Inquiry as I will demand it from the Ministry of Education.

I am not going over your head yet that’s why I am writing to you, hoping you will have a explanation of your conduct.

You will want to look after that childs hand if you don’t Artane will be getting into trouble for neglect by outside factors. Trusting you will reply soon as I am fed up listening to the treatment dealt out at Artane by others who have complained.

7.149The father received no response from Br Gerrard, and wrote to the Superior the following month:

I have already sent a letter to Bro Gerrard concerning an Enquiry about my Son; which he did not reply to in fact it is nearly a week ago, as you Know silence is to admit of guilt.

I wish you would remind him and ask him to reply so I am not going to be treated as dirt … If I do not have a reply soon, I will be forced to lodge a Complaint to the Board Of Education as well as the Minister of Education as I would not stand by and see my Son Branded as a robber … Hoping you will look into the matter as soon as possible …

7.150The Congregation commented in its Opening Statement that the main complaint of the second letter was that the boy’s character had been impugned. They further argued that, as there was no further document available on the matter, this was a case that they considered to have insufficient documentary evidence, and what was available provided evidence of opposing views and so left matters inconclusive. They did not refer to the first letter containing serious allegations of physical abuse.

7.151Among the materials disclosed to the Committee under legal process of discovery was a statement by an employee who worked in the boys’ kitchen at Artane for over 20 years. He mentioned Br Gerrard who was in charge of the boys’ kitchen until the early 1960s when he was transferred to another position. This employee worked in the kitchen from the later 1930s until the early 1960s, and his statement to the Gardaí in 1999 named a number of Brothers whom he recalled working in the kitchen during this time. He particularly recalled an incident with Br Gerrard. He said:

I had many arguments with Brother Gerrard mostly because of the way he would beat the kids. Sometimes he would go overboard when beating the kids. I can remember telling him to stop beating the lads on a number of occasions. One day when I came into the kitchens Brother Gerrard was really laying into a lad. He had him down on the ground and was beating him all over his body with the leather. I went over to him and pulled him away from the boy and I hit Brother Gerrard across the face. He said he would speak to the Superior and get me sacked. I never heard any more about that incident.

7.152He went on to state that, ‘I had a leather myself and I often hit the lads from time to time when I felt they deserved it’.

7.153A witness who was in Artane up to the early 1950s recalled Br Gerrard and said his ‘weapon’ was a:

… stretched out rubber from a pram wheel. I know there was never any prams in Artane, but that is what he used to use. When he would hit you my goodness me, the pain, you just cannot remember. He would take the very very tip of your finger and then he would say, “Come again” with a big evil smile on his face as he went up on his toes and he would whack again. Absolutely cruel, cruel man.

7.154— This letter from a concerned parent was ignored. A person with a legitimate interest was expressing a serious concern, and it was not dealt with at any level by the authorities in Artane.

Br Searle29

7.155In a letter to the Department of Education from the foster-mother of a boy who was resident in Artane in the 1950s, only part of which survives, the woman complained that the boy’s head was cut following a blow from Br Searle. The Resident Manager prepared a report for the Department regarding her complaint, the relevant portion of which reads:

The Br Searle mentioned in [the mother’s] letter was changed from Artane about two years ago. I have got in touch with him about the matter and the following statement is taken from the letter which I received from him:

“I remember the occasion when [this boy] received a slight cut on the head. It will be remembered that on a prior occasion when I had a group of boys out on walk, one of them … jumped out on the road, was struck by a lorry, and was killed instantaneously. The fear of a similar occurrence haunted me subsequently when taking boys on a walk. About four years ago when I had a group of boys out on a walk [the boy] began to act in a similar and even more dangerous manner. I was shocked at the thought of what could have happened to him. The impulsive thrust which accidentally struck him was a gesture of protection from a greater danger on a busy highway. I explained all this to [the mother] at the time but to the best of my recollection I never suggested that she should say nothing about what happened”.

I am here for the past four years and never at any time did I receive a complaint from [this woman]. As a matter of fact she has expressed, frequently, her thanks for all that was being done for the boy.

7.156The injury to the head was not disputed. The Brother explained that it was an ‘impulsive thrust which accidentally struck him’. The foster-mother had, apparently, had all of this explained to her, yet she was concerned enough to make a complaint to the Department of Education.

7.157— The unquestioning acceptance of the explanation given by the Brother, without even asking the boy what happened, was indicative of the uncritical approach adopted by the Department of Education to genuine complaints.

Br Verrill30

7.158The parent who made a previous complaint in the mid-1950s about Br Gerrard, which is considered above, made another written complaint two years later that Br Verrill had injured his son. It seems that the letter was written during the course of a General Election campaign, as it refers to a visit to the writer’s home by a candidate who was a doctor by profession and who saw the injured boy and encouraged the writer to complain.

7.159The letter stated:

Dear Sir

I wish to make a Complaint regarding my son … I noticed he had marks of Violence on him, In fact a Candidate who called to the house to day remarked his face Swollen and Bruised as the man who called happens to be a Dr.

He advised me to write in to you and ask for explanation from you and to get a reply within 3 days before he goes ahead with an investigation. This is not the first time it has happened it would appear that Bro Verrill takes out his temper on the children, in fact if it happened to a ordinary man he would get 6 months. As my Dr. Candidate said he looked as if he was Punched ontil he bleed. Trusting you will look into the matter as soon as Possible as my T.D. expects a reply within 3 days. Sorry again to have to Complain as its going on to long now. After all he is only a child and I am sure the High Author dose not Know about the treatment giving to those boys. Trusting again I will have a reply soon.

7.160Recorded on the back of this letter is a handwritten note:

Answered: [Date] Examined boy’s face no mark. Got him to examine it himself no mark. Boy asked not mention to [Br Verrill]. Wish acceded to. Reason? Mentioned boy was happy at Trade & Technical Course. Boy states that he did not see any T.D. Asked father to put me in touch with T.D.

7.161It is clear that:

  • Examining the boy for marks of violence was not an adequate response to the allegation of violence but was more consistent with a defensive attitude by the Superior. The father complained of assault by the Brother, and that should have been properly investigated. Instead, the focus was on disproving the allegations. A full record should have been kept.
  • The Superior should have been concerned at the boy’s fear of being removed from his trade by Br Verrill if he discovered that a complaint had been made. He could have reassured the boy that he would not be removed from the course, while still carrying out an investigation.

7.162In its Opening Statement, the Congregation referred to the following letter as a single allegation, but in fact it contained two separate complaints.

7.163In an anonymous note to the Minister for Education, a boy had written:

The treatment we receive out here in Artane is unbearable specially from Br Verrill if you say a Vulgar word and he hears about it he takes you out of bed … gives you a shocking treatment, there has been proof of this in some boys faces during the last month.

[The Boy]

Yours sincerely

PS Do what you can Sir

7.164This letter was sent to the Resident Manager together with a letter from Mr Ó Síochfhradha, Inspector, Department of Education. He advised the Superior that a boy’s father had called to the office that morning, complaining that his son had been ill-treated by Br Verrill. He wrote:

He alleges that Brother Verrill took the boy out of bed and beat him and that the boy, when on a visit home last Sunday, “had the remains of a black eye”. He also stated that the boy appeared to be going deaf as a result of the treatment he received.

In this connection I am to enclose an anonymous letter received in this Office some time ago.

7.165He enclosed the handwritten note quoted above. Mr Ó Síochfhradha asked the Resident Manager for his observations on the parent’s allegations.

7.166The Resident Manager replied that, having investigated the matter, he was convinced that there was no truth in the allegations. The boy concerned had advised him that he had given backchat to a member of staff in front of other boys. The member of staff concerned did not punish him at that point. He was told to report the incident to the Disciplinarian, who was directly in charge of the conduct of the boys in the School. The Resident Manager went on:

The boy says that he went off to bed quickly that night immediately after tea without having reported this matter and that when Br Verrill sent for him he got up again. He was told that his offence was rather serious especially on account of the bad example he had given to the other boys [The boy] himself has told me that the only punishment he got was a few slaps. He is definitely sure that he was not ill-treated in any way and that at no time was he struck on any part of the head or face. He is also sure that he never had a black eye or ear injury.

The boy says that he had forgotten all about this business until he went on a visit home on the 17th ult. On account of what his father said to him, he believes that whoever took the story to his father must have told lies as his father seemed to have a very wrong impression about the whole affair.

7.167The child concerned prepared a statement at the time. It read:

In about the middle of October I gave back chat to [a Brother] and I also took up a bottle and let on I was going to hit him with it. I was told to report to Br Verrill about this. I did not report it. When I was in bed at about 8.30 Br Verrill called me and he gave me some slaps but he did not hit me on the face or ears, or eyes. I had everything forgotten till I got out for the day on the 17th of Nov.

7.168There was no Department of Education pupil file available for this boy. There was no further correspondence from the Department in the Congregation’s discovery.

7.169Notwithstanding these complaints, Br Verrill was later commended in a Visitation Report for his work as a Disciplinarian:

Tribute was paid by many to the success of Br. Verrill as Disciplinarian. The elimination of the tougher element has resulted in a much more manageable type prevailing. The strict rigidity of previous years has disappeared. The boys appear quite orderly and are obviously friendly towards the Brothers.

7.170Br Verrill was singled out for positive comment in another letter, written to complain about three of his colleagues, in which the writer stated that her grandson had no difficulties under Br Verrill’s care.

7.171A number of complainants gave evidence in relation to Br Verrill. A resident in Artane in the 1950s said, “I don’t know what he didn’t like about me but he used to beat me … I told my mother about it … and she said I must have been up to no good”. He alleged he would beat him for not concentrating in school. He said that he had his trousers pulled down in front of the boys and was walloped with a black leather on his buttocks. He added:

He had his hand on my back when he hit me with the leather he put the leather down and had his hands on my testicles, squeezed me, took his hands away and got the leather and walloped me again …

Verrill used to wallop me across the face sometimes. Verrill was the worst, I was scared of the man, I was absolutely scared of him. Anytime I seen him I used to run away or walk away, I was so frightened of the man.

7.172He alleged the Brother would call him names such as ‘soiler’ and ‘slasher’ for wetting the bed. He also called him a dunce in school.

7.173Another resident in Artane, for seven years during the 1950s, complained that Br Verrill caught four boys smoking and beat them with a leather strap and cane. He then put the boys up in front of the whole school and they had to apologise. He said that his little finger was split as a result. He went to the infirmary and his finger was bandaged.

7.174A resident there for five years in the 1950s said of Br Verrill, ‘… if he happened to be in bad humour or if you were passing by him, he would hit you a clatter … I had boils on the back of my neck and he hit me on the back of my neck’. This was with the strap and he would do this to other boys. When asked whether he complained about this, he said he didn’t know to whom he would have complained.

7.175— The cases cited above are an example of the consequences of a failure by the authorities to stop abusive behaviour by a Brother. Complaints were not investigated and breaches of the rules were overlooked. The dismissal of written complaints supports the assertions of ex-pupils that they could not complain about their treatment to anyone in Artane.

Directions to limit corporal punishment

7.176A Visitation Report in the late 1950s criticised two Brothers for excessive use of corporal punishment. It wrote the following about one Brother:

Br Vailant31 was reported to be rather severe on certain boys, troublesome ones, and to be exceeding the permitted limits of punishment. I spoke to him about this and he promised to be more careful in future. He has excellent control and should not have to resort to corporal punishment at all.

7.177It then made the following criticism about Br Deon:32

It was also stated that Br. Deon was too severe. When I spoke to him about it he said his attention had never been called to it and that he would amend.

7.178One complainant claimed he had been struck by Br Vailant so hard that he had to be treated in hospital as an in-patient in 1959. The blow was known as an ‘electric jowler’, struck downwards across the face. The Brother who attended the oral hearing was asked if he was familiar with this phrase, and replied, ‘Yes, they called it a jowler … it was being struck on the face like, I suppose, like getting an electric shock‘.

7.179He admitted that ‘instead of using a leather I actually, on a number of occasions, struck boys with my hand on the face. I would say that that was … not correct, that was being severe’.

7.180He was asked if he had been consulted by the Congregation when it was preparing its statements in response to individual complaints. He replied:

I remember discussing with … the Provincial at the time and … I said to him, yes, that there was an element of truth in the allegations that were being made, but we didn’t go into details as I remember it.

7.181The Brother who prepared the Congregation’s response simply stated:

Brother Vailant was the disciplinarian in Artane for part of my stay there. He was a strict disciplinarian. It is possible that there was some folklore about him and the manner in which he used to punish the boys. However I never saw him giving any boy an electric jowler. The leadership team have confirmed to me that save for the complaints furnished to the Commission there are no records of complaints of abuse of any type made against Br Vailant during the relevant period.

7.182There was no mention in this response that the Brother had previously admitted that there was an element of truth in the allegations.

7.183Br Vailant, who had two spells in Artane in the 1950s and early 1960s, stated that he felt the boys were angry against the State that committed them, against their parents who did not care, and angry against the Brothers as the ones who were keeping them there. ‘In their eyes’, he explained, ‘we were seen as types of jailers’. He admitted he used the leather strap for misbehaviour and then added:

… I think I would have to put my hand up and say that I also used it for failure in lessons, even though I knew that that was discouraged. If you ask me why I would use it for failure in lessons I would say to encourage people to get on and to learn something.

7.184Br Vailant was asked about the reference to him in the Visitation Report quoted above, which noted that he was ‘exceeding the permitted limits of punishment’. When asked if could remember the rebuke, he replied:

I think I could say that I was never aware that that was written about me in a Visitation Report … I don’t actually remember that [the Visitor speaking to me]. He said that I was too severe. Well, I would say now that I probably was, or at least that I was too strict, or maybe too demanding.

7.185He was asked if he exceeded his own standards and regretted it. He replied:

I would say yes … I would say instead of using a leather I actually, on a number of occasions, struck boys with my hand on the face. I would say that was, you know, not correct, that that was being severe and that maybe is what the Provincial was referring to …

7.186Under questioning, he added:

… I became aware that I was doing things that were not strictly right or not strictly necessary … Like using the leather too frequently, or using it for failure in lessons, or in work. Also, using my hand instead of what was recognised as a way of punishing.

7.187— The Visitor should have dealt effectively with Br Vailant’s severity when it came to his attention. The failure of a proper system for monitoring punishments administered by Brothers has left a number of ex-staff members of Artane with feelings of guilt and remorse for what occurred there.

7.188Shortly before this Visitation, the Provincial wrote a letter to all Brothers to express his concern about levels of corporal punishment. He wrote:

In a Circular issued in January 1957 I asked the Brothers of the Province to avoid as much as possible the use of corporal punishment in the schools. For some time after the issuing of that Circular there appeared to be good reason to believe that the request was being carried out. More recently, however, the leather has come back into frequent use in at least some schools. This is a matter for sincere regret. As I have already stated frequent recourse to the use of the leather indicates a bad tone in the classroom. It may make the lives of the children unhappy and nullifies much of the benefit of their Education. It is to be hoped that, in time, wiser counsels will prevail and that the use of the leather will be reserved for cases in which it is really necessary for the purpose of correction.

7.189He did not say how he knew ‘the leather had come back into frequent use in at least some schools’, but the Visitation Reports and the complaints referred to above may have played a part in informing him. What is clear is that, by the standards of this senior Christian Brother, the leather was being used too often and in circumstances where it was not really necessary.

A letter from a concerned grandmother

7.190A boy’s grandmother wrote to the Superior General in late 1962 complaining about the way her grandson was treated during his time in the Institution. The original letter of complaint is no longer extant, but the content is evident from an internal letter from the Christian Brothers’ Provincial Council to the Superior General:

The Council here has considered the letter you handed into us from a Mrs McCarthy33 making a number of accusations against certain Brothers in Artane and an attack on Artane in general. We consider Mrs McCarthy a very dangerous woman and one who could do a lot of harm.

We think she should get a reply stating that the matter will be looked into as soon as possible; That the Superior of Artane is away at present and will not be back until the end of September. You however will be able to give her the best answer to satisfy her and cool her down. With the Superior of Artane absent at present it would be difficult to get accurate information at present concerning all the statements Mrs McCarthy makes.

7.191The Superior General replied to the grandmother’s letter in November 1962. His letter discussed efforts made concerning the boy’s care after he left Artane. He also stated that the School Superior offered the boy a free place in the secondary school, which he declined. He went on to respond to the grandmother’s complaint:

As to his troubles at school, he evidently received punishment, but it was not in the manner or in the spirit which you seem to suggest. In this he may have exaggerated things to you, and your affection for the boy may have caused you to see them in a more serious way. As far as we could discover there was no unkind feeling towards him, as all felt that his make-up was not that of the ordinary boy …

7.192In February 1963, Mrs McCarthy brought her grandson to Artane to discuss with the Superior his difficulty in keeping jobs and to see if he could help in finding employment. What happened in the course of this meeting is in dispute. The grandmother gave her version of what happened in a letter written later that month (26th February) to the Minister for Education:

I could not believe my eyes, without word or warning the Superior, closed his fist + struck the boy a most brutal blow on the side of the jaw, saying to him why wont you work. He then said in the most deliberate tone to him, you are mental the boy said I am not. He said you are suffering from a mental dicease, this he repeated about five times; every drop of blood had left the boys face from the blow, which had sent him staggering to the other side of the Office, all the unfortunate boy could say was wh… and his voice went. I was so shocked and dazed from the scene. I was not much better than the boy. I could not think straight. However Bro Colbert34 happened to come in just then and the Superior said look who we have here. He then left the Office. I followed him outside the door and told him it was the yrs of ill treatment of that Kind had the boy the way he was, and told him to get the boy medical and mental treatment … He was removed to St Brendan’s on The Sat evg 9th February.

7.193The grandmother turned to a clergyman named Canon O’Neill for assistance with her complaint. He wrote to Monsignor Barry,35 who passed on Canon O’Neill’s letter to the Superior General. After meeting with the Superior in Artane, the Superior General, Br Mulholland, wrote to Monsignor Barry on 26th February 1963:

Further to my note of 23rd February I have now made full enquiries into the allegations in Mrs McCarthy’s letter. I have ascertained that she is a mental case with a strong antipathy against Artane School and that she is given to exaggeration in all matters she speaks or writes about. It is easy to note that she is a very dangerous type of woman …

Now just to give you an example of her powers of exaggeration I asked the Superior of Artane about the blow he was alleged to have given the boy on the 7th of February. He said he was talking to [the boy] in presence of Mrs McCarthy about the number of jobs he was in and of his leaving each of them without cause. To impress matters on [the boy] he gave him a tip of his hand and that is what is described as a staggering blow. 36 That will give us some idea of what to believe of the allegations made in the rest of the letter. As far as I could ascertain there is no truth in the accusation that boys are taken out of bed at 10p.m. and beaten “for any minor fault”. It must be only hearsay on Mrs McCarthy’s part. We all know how boys are inclined to exaggerate the slightest happening.

7.194On the same day, the grandmother wrote a long letter of complaint to the Minister for Education, which will be discussed presently.

7.195Monsignor Barry replied, accepting the ‘unreliability and untrustworthiness of her complaints’ and continued:

I am sorry that you have been put to so much trouble but unfortunately, these sort of people give us all a lot of trouble and their complaints have to be nailed. I am happy to be in a position to reassure Canon O’Neill that the story as he got it was completely without foundation.

7.196On 1st March 1963, the grandmother met the Superior General by appointment. At the meeting, that lasted two hours, she discussed her grievances concerning Artane. On the same evening, the Superior General and the Provincial decided that the matter should be handed over to a solicitor if she persisted. The Provincial informed the Superior of Artane and commented:

The Superior General had great patience with her and he thought by listening to her and getting her to unburden herself she would be pacified but no she left him thundering against the Brothers and against Artane and saying she was going to make certain that such things would not happen again. The Superior General was very beaten up on Friday evening and today.

It is amazing the trouble which one strange woman can make but the Superior General has come to the conclusion that she is an able dealer …

7.197In her long letter to the Minister, the grandmother made many complaints of severe beatings of the boy by different named Christian Brothers in Artane. She also protested about his poor standard of education when he left the Institution. In addition, she described the incident that occurred when she and the boy met the Superior at Artane.

7.198Officials of the Department of Education carried out an investigation and rejected the complaints. In the course of their inquiry, the officials interviewed the boy and his grandmother, and they received written statements from each of the Brothers involved, furnished to them by the Superior of Artane. Mrs McCarthy was unhappy with the way that she and her grandson were questioned. The officials’ investigation was hampered by the grandmother’s refusal to give the names of boys said to have witnessed the events involving her grandson and, in addition, they failed to obtain information from the chaplain, Fr Moore, who had some knowledge of the matter and was unhappy that he had not been approached directly but through the Superior of Artane. More importantly, he feared that his bond of confidentiality with the boys in Artane might be prejudiced. A genuine misunderstanding might have caused the failure to get information from the chaplain. In the circumstances, it would be unfair to criticise the inspectors on this ground. Whatever impediments there may have been to the inquiry, it nevertheless seems unsatisfactory that the officials did not question the Brothers involved. The report of the investigation did not, however, equivocate:

From an examination of the evidence obtained through interviews, enquiries made by phone and the reports furnished by the Brothers concerned, in association with the grandmother’s refusal to give the names of the boys who witnessed [the boy’s] being taken from his bed at night for punishment, it is clear that the charges of brutality and sadism made by Mrs. McCarthy are without foundation. The fact that she is content to leave her other grandson in the care of the Brothers in Artane lend support to this opinion. Br Ourson37 did give [the boy] a shaking … but considering the boy’s infuriating failures to remain in employment, he showed remarkable restraint. Outside this occurrence, nothing emerged from the enquiry to justify the charges of ill-treatment …

7.199The more senior official in the Department of the two who investigated decided that the grandmother should not receive a written reply to her complaint, because she had not co-operated by naming witnesses among the boys.

7.200Br Reynolds was examined in relation to this in Phase I of the Investigation Committee’s inquiry. Referring to the view of the Brothers that the grandmother was dangerous, he said:

I think in that particular case they had reasonably good foundation for the conclusions that they came to. I don’t particularly want to talk about the good lady in question, but I think if you examine the documentation in relation to that case it is quite clearly shown that Number one, an investigation was carried out and the considered opinion of the Resident Manager was that the incident she was complaining about didn’t actually take place. Nonetheless, they did issue a letter, not just to Artane, to all our industrial schools saying if punishments of this nature, if it should happen that they did take place it should cease if that is the custom or if it has happened. I am not sure why that happened.

It would appear to me that that was their action to it first of all in relation to giving instruction to the various institutions and may well have said to the mother or the grandmother who was complaining, “we have done this. We don’t accept your complaint, but we have done this in relation to that complaint”. I haven’t documentary evidence in relation to that but I can’t see why else they would send that out to all industrial schools if there wasn’t some reason of that nature for it.

7.201Br Reynolds was referring to a circular sent by the Superior General to the Christian Brothers’ industrial schools prohibiting the Brothers from taking boys out of bed at night to administer corporal punishment.

7.202The letter, dated 4th March 1963, was a ‘Direction to all our Residential Schools’ and it stated:

Should it be a custom that Brothers, Teachers or Night Watchmen take boys out of bed at night time and beat them that custom is to cease. I am now forbidding it. The Br. Superior is to call the attention of the Br. Disciplinarian, Brothers, Teachers and Watchmen who may have to supervise boys in the dormitory to this prohibition.

Such a custom, if ever it existed, could only bring serious trouble and shame on our management.

The Regulations regarding corporal punishment in our Rules and Acts of Chapter are to be adhered to.

7.203In conclusion:

  • A serious complaint was inadequately investigated and was dismissed on insufficient grounds by both the Department of Education and the Superior.
  • The Superior did not deny that ‘to impress matters on the boy he gave him a tip of his hand’. The severity of the blow was subsequently disputed, but it is accepted that the boy was physically chastised in the presence of the grandmother. Neither the Brothers nor the Department of Education criticised the Superior for hitting the boy in this way.
  • The correspondence reveals a lack of respect for the grandmother and her complaints. She is seen as a dangerous troublemaker whose complaints ‘have to be nailed’. The decision by the senior official in the Department of Education not to reply to the grandmother’s letter itself revealed a contempt for her complaint.
  • The Department’s inspectors accepted written statements from the Brothers and did not question them directly, thereby affording them a preferential credibility.
  • Although the grandmother’s complaint was totally rejected, the Superior still sent out a letter prohibiting a method of giving punishment that the establishment claimed had never happened. This odd fact suggests there was an apprehension that there was some truth in what had been alleged.
  • Many witnesses before the Investigation Committee testified that they were taken out of bed and punished, thereby supporting this part of the grandmother’s complaint.

Br Lionel38

7.204A case of documented abuse was summarised in the Opening Statement by the Congregation. It involved a boy who received treatment in the infirmary following a beating by a Brother:

In 1964 a Brother gave a beating to a boy, apparently for misconduct with other boys. The nature of the misconduct is unclear. There is reference to this incident in the infirmary diary for June of 1965 (sic), from which it is clear that the boy was beaten on the back and legs. There is no indication that the matter was investigated or that any action was taken against the Brother.

7.205The 1964 infirmary diary contained an entry regarding a boy who complained of a sore back and legs. The entry simply stated: ‘got beating by Br Lionel for bad conduct with other boys. Resting’.

7.206In evidence, Br Lionel denied that this had happened. The Brother said that he was never reprimanded for this incident and said that he had no recollection of the particular boy named in the diary. He went on to say that he had indeed severely punished another named boy for sexually interfering with three younger boys. He described the beating as follows:

I had to deal with just one incident of [peer abuse] … I literally gave the person responsible when he had admitted doing it – he admitted openly to having done this to three children and I gave him literally a hiding. I mean a hiding … I would have slapped him on the hands, I would have slapped him on the backside. It was literally – it was something to deter him from ever doing this again … It stands out in my mind, it was the toughest thing I ever had to deal with.

7.207A workman witnessed this beating and reported it to the Superior, Br Ourson. According to Br Lionel, the boy was brought before the Superior, where he recounted what he had done in the presence of the Brother and the workman. The Brother then claimed the workman said, after hearing what the boy had done, ‘if I was dealing with him I would have killed him’.

7.208The Brother was unable to describe to the Committee the nature of conduct which in his view merited this severe punishment. All he could say was that the three young boys had come to him reporting ‘badness’ being done to them by the offender.

7.209The Brother admitted he had beaten another boy in the manner described, but not the boy named in the diary, which leaves the entry in the infirmary diary unexplained. If the entry is correct, a second boy must have received a beating that was so severe he required treatment in the infirmary.

7.210It was obvious from the worker’s reaction that the beating he had seen was one of extreme brutality. In evidence, however, the Brother remained unapologetic about the incident. He viewed the offending behaviour as sufficiently serious to warrant this extreme punishment, and invoked the workman’s later comment as support of his claim. Given the obvious severity of the beating, the matter should have been fully investigated and reported on by the Superior, irrespective of the offending behaviour of the boy.

Beating by an employee

7.211In their Opening Statement, the Christian Brothers referred to an incident in the mid-1960s when an employee injured a boy:

The Manager’s diary contains an entry … which states that two boys, who were brothers, were sent unaccompanied to the Mater Hospital and did not return. This note is followed by the word “readmitted” which seems to indicate that the boys did eventually come back to Artane. It appears that one of the boys was injured, his brother accompanied him to the hospital and both absconded. Two lines below the original entry there is another entry as follows: “The injury received was caused by an employee of the School, who was the object of a jeering attack by the injured boy and others”. It is obvious from the handwriting that the two notes were not written by the same person. It is not clear whether the two notes refer to the same boy, nor is there any indication what the nature of the injury was.

7.212The Brothers maintained that it was ‘not possible to come to any logical conclusion on the matter’. What is clear is that an employee injured a boy. The source of the information that the employee punished the boys for jeering at him most likely came from the employee concerned, who presumably was questioned in relation to the assault. There is no record that he was reprimanded. If it was not acceptable behaviour, then some record of the reprimand should surely have been made. There is no other record of this incident.

Newspaper article

7.213An article about discipline in church-run schools in Ireland appeared in a newspaper report in the late 1960s. In it, the journalist wrote about a pupil from Artane Industrial School, who had recently become emotionally disturbed and had been kept under sedation in the School infirmary. Despite this fact, he was punched in the stomach by a Brother as he came out of the toilets that morning. The boy also said the nun in the infirmary kept a cane there. The journalist went to the School to confront the Brother Superior about the matter. The journalist wrote this account of the meeting:

“Brother, is it true that Delmar39 punched Michael40 in the stomach last week?”

Brother Gilles41 moves the papers about on his desk, nibbles a biscuit.

“Sure, I asked Brother Delmar about it this morning. He says he can’t recollect punching Michael at all.”

“Could that be because he punches so many boys that he can’t recollect this particular instance?”

Brother Gilles looks sideways at me and giggles, leans back in his chair, twiddles his thumbs and does not reply.

“Is it true, what Michael says, that the nun keeps a cane in the infirmary?”

“I couldn’t say,’ says Brother Gilles. ‘It’s news to me.”

“But you’re in charge here, aren’t you? Surely you must know what goes on?”

“I really couldn’t say.”

7.214The Superior wrote to the Assistant Secretary in the Department of Education. He had been asked for a statement in response to the article. In it, he protested that he had not given an appointment to the journalist who had accompanied a Mr O’Neill,42 who had requested an interview. He explained:

Mr O’Neill asked for the interview because Michael used to visit his home in Blackrock on the second and last Sundays of each month. On [a particular Sunday] Michael was out in Mr O’Neill’s house when he complained of a pain in his stomach which, he stated, was the result of a punch he received from one of the Brothers that morning. Mr O’Neill brought the boy back here that night and put him into our Infirmary. The Matron took charge of him and put him to bed. In a matter of minutes Michael was sitting up viewing the television programme. The following morning he was examined by the school doctor who didn’t discover any marks on his stomach: in fact he told the boy to get up and go to school. Michael got up but stayed in the Infirmary that day and attended school as usual the following morning. He was never under sedation tablets here …

7.215The letter continued:

Articles like this have done much harm to Industrial Schools and they are most embarrassing to the staff and the hundreds of past pupils who are upright and honest citizens of the state. It is also to be regretted that a semi-state controlled organization like R.T.E. should invite [this journalist] to appear on a programme to cause more annoyance to the teaching authorities.

[… a television journalist …] interviewed a former pupil of Artane School. This boy gave a completely false picture of the school as it is to-day and many people, who knew the conditions here, telephoned to ask why some Brother wasn’t in the studio to state the facts. On the same programme when false allegations were made about the Gardaí, a Garda was present to give his side of the story, the true story; but we were not asked by the R.T.E. authorities to state our case.

It is hard to blame [the journalist in question] and other members of the journalistic profession from across the water for launching their unjust attacks on Irish schools since there is much unfair and unjust criticism from so-called responsible sources here in Ireland. Not a voice is raised in defence of those who have dedicated their lives to this difficult task.

7.216The Assistant Secretary replied as follows:

Dear Br Gilles,

Thank you for your letter … concerning [the journalist’s] visit to Artane and [the] subsequent article … I hasten to assure you that my verbal request to you through Mr. Wade for your version of [the] visit was entirely for the record and was not intended to imply that the Department was testing the veracity of [the] account.

It was obvious that [the] account was biased, tendentious and in parts highly improbable. However I had to compile a record of all the cases mentioned in the article and a note from you was necessary to complete that record.

It is highly regrettable that the Reformatory and Industrial School system should be the subject of so much ill-informed and malicious attack. The difficulty in dealing with the problem is that it is not always possible to identify those responsible or to be sure of the motivation which inspires the attack.

The ignorant and the malicious, like the poor, we have always with us.

7.217The main interest of this article is that it made an allegation that a Brother in whose care the boy had been placed punched the boy in the stomach. Mr O’Neill had found the boy retching, brought him to the infirmary when he returned the boy to the School, and made an appointment with the Resident Manager. The man was clearly very concerned. While a doctor was called and he found no marks on the boy’s stomach, the key allegation, that a Brother had punched him, was not investigated. The overwhelming concern in the correspondence was for the reputation of the Institution and the insult sustained by Br Gilles. The Department dismissed the complaint in the article out of hand, and merely sought the Manager’s response ‘to complete the record’.

Evidence from individual respondents

7.218A total of 26 Brothers who had served in Artane gave evidence to the Investigation Committee. From their testimony, certain facts emerged about which there was no disagreement. These included:

  • All the Brothers were issued with a leather strap when they arrived at the School and most of them carried it with them.
  • All of them were allowed to administer corporal punishment for minor offences, yet nowhere was it set out in clear, unequivocal terms what a minor offence was. They all said that punishment was left to their judgment.
  • A combination of immaturity, overwork, long hours, isolation and lack of proper supervision led to severe strain and exhaustion.

7.219The following points emerged in their evidence.

7.220Br Fontaine,43 who was on the staff of Artane from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s, said that he never witnessed Brothers losing control or punishing boys excessively and that he himself had never done so. However, he did say:

At times you would hear the boys talking and you got the impression that somebody had gone overboard and you would have a feeling that something had happened that shouldn’t have happened. But it would be from listening to the boys themselves. The Brothers themselves would not talk about something like that.

7.221Br Davet44 was in Artane in the early to mid-1960s and regarded the use of corporal punishment as a symptom of the stress the Brothers were under. He said, ‘if situations arose and you were supervising quite a large number of boys a situation could arise where you would use corporal punishment then … it was part of the stress that was put on the men supervising …’.

7.222He also acknowledged that there were ‘some Brothers that were regarded as being tough and could possibly use the leather excessively …’.

7.223Br Yves,45 who was in Artane for two years in the 1960s, agreed that he punished boys to excess, and now regretted it:

That’s a fair comment. When I went there I was twenty years of age, I was just out of first year training college. It was for me a baptism of fire to go into that kind of situation. I had no experience much as a teacher … If I was severe, and I was severe, it was my way of coping, and, you know, to those boys that I punished severely, I am exceedingly sorry.

7.224He remembered being reprimanded by the principal of the School for beating a boy too harshly, and toned down his severity accordingly.

7.225Br Burcet,46 who had two spells in Artane, in the mid 1950s and then throughout the 1960s, told the Investigation Committee how one witness had moved him to recall an incident. The former resident gave evidence that the first time he received the strap was from Br Burcet when he was one of the youngest boys in Artane, aged eight or nine:

The first experience I have with a strap or a leather as they are called, it was from Br. Burcet. again there is a lot after that but because it was the first one it stuck with me … I remember retracting my hand … and then receiving … the strap around that area (indicating) and then on the buttocks area. That was for retracting my hand … All I remember, and that’s why it stuck with me, was the stings, the stings in the actual body areas. It was more than two or three [strokes].

7.226Although Br Burcet had denied beating the boy in his statement written in 2002, when he simply wrote, ‘I did not abuse [the complainant]’, he changed his evidence. He said:

When I heard him describing it in evidence I was very taken and I was very conscious of how credible it was … When he was giving his evidence and as he described it, it made a very, very big impact on me … to hear it in his own words as he described that …

7.227Br Burcet was singled out for praise by some of his colleagues, and many of the boys listed him among the more kind and fair Brothers. He described to the Committee how the experience of Artane had affected him:

In my last year in Artane I was Disciplinarian. I didn’t like the job, I didn’t want the job … and I wouldn’t say I was very good at it. But during that period there was a fire and part of the building was burnt down … I was in charge then and that had a huge effect on me … I became paranoid about where kids were … if I found boys in places where they shouldn’t be … I punished them more severely than would have been necessary.

7.228He then described punishing some boys on the backside:

… when some boys were interfering with other boys, they would be punished and one of the punishments they would get would be on the backside with the leather. I wasn’t too keen on doing it, I had a certain reluctance about it …

7.229In relation to one particular incident of peer abuse brought to his attention by Br Gaspard47, he said:

I just brought [the boy concerned] to the boot room … He had his nightshirt on him, he bent down, I gave him three or four smacks of the leather on the – not on the bare backside and he ran out the door and I was glad to see him go.

7.230When Br Burcet was asked if he punished more in Artane than in other schools, he replied:

Yes, I did punish more. I would say that it was more true of when I went there first than when I started to find my feet there … In the latter part I probably punished less, until I was made disciplinarian … it did change me, because when I left Artane … I didn’t use corporal punishment at all.

7.231Br Burcet later taught in Letterfrack and Salthill.

Congregational response

7.232There is a marked contrast between the Congregation’s response to the evidence of physical abuse and that of individual respondents. The Congregation took up a very defensive position, but the individual respondents were, for the most part, more open and concessionary, with the result that areas of disagreement between respondents and complainants diminished, and some areas of agreement emerged. Individual respondents were able to recall and admit cases of excessive punishment or cruelty, but they were reluctant to see policy implications in such episodes. The Brothers were, however, less forthcoming in regard to physical abuse than some Brothers had been when they spoke to Mr Dunleavy when he was preparing his report on Artane for the Congregation. He described what he discovered in his interviews:

In the course of interviewing members of the Christian Brothers who worked previously at Artane Industrial School a picture of a particularly brutal form of discipline emerged. It seemed that many of the Brothers who came to Artane to teach, did so as relatively young Brothers, often indeed Artane was their first mission. As such they seem to have been both equally enthusiastic and inexperienced and were highly influenced by the views of the School expressed to them by Brothers who had been there longer than themselves. Nearly all of the Brothers that I interviewed told me that it had been explained to them by senior Brothers at Artane Industrial School that the boys would not respect a Brother who did not discipline them extremely severely, and that a Brother who would not deal out such punishment would soon become know to the boys as a “Silly Brother” – it was not clear whether there was any sexual connotation in such a nickname. One Brother related an incident where his fellow Brothers had burst into applause when he entered a room where they were, as it had been learned that he had punished one of his pupils by punching him in the face – previously he had not dealt out such harsh punishment. Another Brother recalled holding a colleague’s soutane while he beat a pupil with his fists round a handball alley – the location having been chosen so that the only path of escape for the boy was past the Brother who was meeting out the punishment. It is my conclusion that unofficially at least, a system existed in Artane Industrial School of inflicting unusually brutal punishment on pupils, that such a system was tacitly sanctioned by the more senior Brothers at the School, and that this unofficial code of discipline made it inevitable that the physical abuse of pupils at Artane Industrial School would occur. Several Brothers relayed stories of occasions on which fellow Brothers had “snapped” and had punished a pupil excessively. The actions of the subjects of these stories were always termed as being entirely out of character. It seems to me however that the level of ordinary punishment in the school was so extreme, that when Brothers punished their pupils in an excessive manner, such punishment was inevitably of the most brutal kind. The reluctance of the school to properly investigate and deal with any allegations of physical abuse, or even to report the injury of pupils to parents or the Dept. of Education, ensured that such a system would persist.

Fr Moore

7.233Fr Henry Moore was the chaplain of Artane from 1960 to 1967. In 1962 he was asked by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr McQuaid, to give him a report on Artane, which he delivered on 7th July 1962. The report is discussed later in this chapter. He gave evidence about his report and generally in relation to conditions in Artane.

7.234Fr Moore’s report stated:

The administration of punishment is in charge of a disciplinarian, but in practice is not confined to him. There seems to be no proportion between punishment and the offence. In my presence a boy was severely beaten on the face for an insignificant misdemeanour. Recently, a boy was punished so excessively and for so long a period that he broke away from the Brother and came to my house a mile away for assistance. The time was 10.45 p.m., almost two hours after the boys retired to bed. For coming to me in those circumstances he was again punished with equal severity. Some time ago, a hurley stick was used to inflict punishment on a small boy. The offence was negligible.

Constant resource to physical punishment breeds undue fear and anxiety. The personality of the boy is inevitably repressed, maladjusted, and in some cases, abnormal.

7.235Br Reynolds at Phase I said the Brothers were not challenging Fr Moore’s eye-witness account and commented:

… we are saying that if anything like that happened it shouldn’t have happened and it was wrong. The thing that surprises me about it was that he didn’t bring it to the attention of the Resident Manager.

7.236Fr Moore gave evidence to the Investigation Committee of the difficulties he had in bringing complaints to the Resident Manager.

7.237He said that the overall atmosphere in the School was:

very oppressive and it seemed to me to engender a great fear, an atmosphere of fear in the boys, generally, either in anticipation of punishment or actually experiencing punishment. In a word I would have described it as excessive and out of proportion.

7.238He described incidents he had witnessed, including one in his report to the Archbishop in which he referred to a boy being severely beaten on the face for an insignificant misdemeanour in the playground.

7.239He expressed a particular concern about the levels of corporal punishment used by Br Videl48, who was in the School in the early 1960s and about whom he heard consistent reports of his excessive disciplinary actions and beatings.

7.240He recalled an occasion when Br Videl punished a boy who had snatched a comic from a younger boy in the playground. The Brother took the older boy to one of the classrooms:

I was concerned at that stage about the evidence that I had been hearing about his severity, so I decided I would follow myself after him and I would stand outside the classroom door … When I did that I counted the number of slaps he was giving the boy and my attention was distracted somehow after 19 slaps … I would have considered that grossly excessive for the demeanour or misdemeanour, which in my view was tawdry.

7.241He did not think the system in Artane was conducive to boys making complaints. He said:

… as far as I could see the boys were afraid to make a complaint. I was in a sort of invidious position because I had been instructed by Br Ourson, the Superior, that the boys were not to make complaints to me, that if they had complaints they should go to him.

7.242While he went to Br Ourson with complaints of sexual abuse, he said that he was reluctant to do so in respect of physical abuse. Other Brothers advised him informally that this was not his function. For this reason, he directed boys who came to him with such complaints to go directly to Br Ourson. He does not know whether they in fact did so. He had not gone to Br Ourson about the Brother for this reason. He went instead to the Brother Provincial, but he did not know what the outcome was or whether the Brother was reprimanded.

7.243Fr Moore’s evidence is important on the extent of corporal punishment in Artane and the difficulty for staff and boys in making complaints. In an environment where the victim is afraid to report it to the authorities, abuse will flourish. This and other evidence indicates that boys did not report abuse to the authorities because they would have been punished for doing so.

Dr Paul McQuaid

7.244Dr Paul McQuaid returned to Ireland in 1965 after four years of postgraduate training in England and Scotland, and took up the position of Assistant Psychiatrist in charge of the Child Guidance Clinic in the Mater Hospital. In or about 1967 or 1968, he began to visit Artane on a weekly basis and he had free access to the Institution.

7.245Dr McQuaid said that his general impression was that it was a daunting institution. The abiding impression he had was that of silence during school hours, notwithstanding the large number of boys in the place:

The silence. So you had all these children, young boys, and virtually not a sound.

7.246The boys’ unease was noticeable:

It was a forbidding place, no question about it. There was a sense of just something about the way that the kids presented. You got a sense that they were intimidated, but again it was 40/50 years ago, times were different. They were there because they were within a juvenile controlled system and how do you control large numbers of kids.

7.247He recalled an incident which happened one day when he visited the School unannounced:

I walked in one day and as I said there was this silence, I was on my own and I don’t think I was expected in that sense.

As I walked down the corridor I heard this (slapped hands together) like that (indicated), just as I walked down, the door opened and a boy walked out and his face was coming out and he had a black eye developing. I stopped him and he was very upset. He was trying not to cry. Anyway I said, you know, “What happened?” He said – I can’t remember what he said, but what transpired was that he had been hit by the Brother in charge, that’s what he said. I had no reason to disbelieve him.

7.248Dr McQuaid returned to the issues of punishment and fear in Artane later in his evidence. He drew a distinction between national schools and other institutions:

We know that particularly in institutions corporal punishment was used in a way somewhat beyond what it was used for in national schools in that it was an instrument of control.

7.249Dr McQuaid said that there would have been a degree of difference in terms of the extent of the punishment in Artane as opposed to the schools that he attended. In his school days, corporal punishment was administered by a dean of discipline, as distinct from individual teachers in the classroom, but he confessed that he would not really have known what was happening in Artane if he had been asked. However, he did repeat that his impression of Artane ‘was one of an intimidatory type of silence and control’. He was asked whether it was his perception at the time that there was a problem in Artane with regard to corporal punishment or excessive corporal punishment, and he replied that:

… we were given to understand that the issue of control was a matter for the individual Brother. So how an individual Brother might deal with a recusant child or class, as I understood it then and since, was that it was a matter for the individual Brother.

7.250The difference in the system of government in a school where punishment was administered by a designated person, as compared with Artane and other Christian Brothers’ institutions, should not have existed, because the statutory Rules and Regulations for industrial schools provided that corporal punishment could only be inflicted by the Manager or in his presence. If the rule had been observed, the regime would have been more ordered, and cases of excessive or capricious violence less common. A Brother would have to justify to the Manager why a boy should be punished and would not be permitted to react spontaneously to a situation. Consistency, another feature of ordered regimes, would be maintained.

1962 inspection

7.251An allegation of excessive corporal punishment was referred to in one of the reports of a special inspection carried out by three officials49 of the Department of Education in December 1962. This inspection followed the appearance by Fr Henry Moore, the chaplain to Artane, before an Inter-Departmental Committee where he expressed his concerns about the way Artane was run. In particular, he commented on the excessive discipline and overuse of corporal punishment. It was in this context that the reference to discipline appeared in the principal report of the group, which was written by Mr MacUaid. The relevant part stated:

Complaints about the treatment of children in industrial schools are not infrequent but from experience I would say that the majority are exaggerated and some even untrue. For example, you will recall the case where a mother brought her child to the hall and alleged that he had been beaten on the head and on the buttocks by a Br Javier50 in Artane. Fortunately, Dr McCabe was in the office the same day and on uncovering the bandaged head she diagnosed the “injury” as ringworm. The child had bruises on his body but in the subsequent investigation Br Javier claimed that they had been made in a rough and tumble fight with other boys and the balance of the evidence favoured the Brother’s case. Because Br Javier is the Dean of Discipline in Artane he was interviewed specially, away from the Superior and Bursar, on his duties Br Javier is a vigorous young man in his late twenties with six years teaching experience. His duties as Disciplinarian do not allow him to teach at present but he hopes to be relieved of his appointment this summer and re-assigned to the classroom. His policy of deprivation of privileges because of misconduct and acquainting the culprit of the reason is basically sound but he explained that successful application of this policy was not always possible owing to the ages of the boys, some of whom did not care if, say, the privilege of watching television or going home for a few hours on Sunday was withdrawn. He felt that, having withdrawn privileges and still being faced with insubordination, he had no alternative but to punish moderately with the leather on the hands in certain cases. He stated that he probably used the leather about twice a week. Br Javier is Dean of Discipline for 400 odd boys and, I believe, fills this demanding position with sincerity and firmness but without harshness. The only criticism offered is that he is too young for an exacting job that requires maturity and had little experience of the city type prior to his appointment as Disciplinarian. In a subsequent discussion, the Superior whole-heartedly supported the work of Br Javier. In response to the suggestion that a course in psychology in U.C.D. would help in an office of this important nature, he replied that the question had never been examined by the Order but that Br Javier would probably return to teaching next September.

7.252The general disposition of the Department of Education was defensive. The official’s example of an unfounded allegation is questionable. If the boy who presented to Dr McCabe had bruises on his body, that in itself was a serious matter, calling for a thorough investigation.

7.253The report said that ‘the balance of the evidence favoured the Brother’s case’, but a report on such a specific matter should have set out the evidence considered.

7.254The key role of Dean of Discipline was given to a Brother ‘too young for an exacting job that requires maturity’. He also had little experience of the type of boy in Artane.

7.255The report admitted that ‘complaints about the treatment of children in industrial schools are not infrequent’, but then relied on the ‘experience’ of the writer to ‘say that the majority are exaggerated and some even untrue’.

7.256A Disciplinarian who was judged to be firm, but without harshness, nevertheless had to use the leather on boys ‘twice a week’.

Evidence given by complainants

7.257The Investigation Committee heard a total of 48 former residents. They tended not to complain about punishments that were justified, even if they were severe. As one witness said, ‘I didn’t mind being beaten if I deserved it’. Many witnesses often qualified their accounts by saying they had deserved the chastisement. One Disciplinarian was consistently described as a very strict but very fair man, because he did not punish unjustly.

7.258The former residents did complain, however, about unjust punishments. Unfair, capricious punishments created a climate of fear because they were administered for little or no reason, and therefore could not be avoided. Examples include failure at lessons, writing with the left hand and bed-wetting.

7.259They complained about punishments so severe they breached the accepted standards of the time. In particular, the punishments given to absconders were cited as excessive and cruel.

7.260Another major cause of complaint was the method by which punishment was administered. One or more complainants before the Investigation Committee recounted the following kinds of punishment, which were often idiosyncratic to certain members of staff, and included:

  • Being beaten with a hurley, fan belt, pram tyre, and sticks of various kinds. A deceased Brother admitted in a Garda interview that he used a fan belt to strike boys.
  • Being beaten on the bare buttocks or other parts of the body.
  • Being hit by the open hand or fist on the face or other parts of the body.
  • Being kicked on various parts of the body.
  • Being lifted by sideburns or the hair at the temples.
  • The use of various methods to make the punishment more painful.

7.261Many complaints were about the timing and circumstances of the punishment. For example, boys were taken out of their beds to be punished, or the punishment would be deliberately delayed to cause anguish about what was to come.

Examples of unfair punishment

7.262The Investigation Committee was struck by the number of witnesses who cited one particular long-serving Disciplinarian, Br Cretien, as being strict but fair. As Disciplinarian, he had to administer corporal punishment frequently, but the witnesses were almost unanimous in saying he used it only when it was deserved and it was never excessively severe.

7.263In contrast, there were many complaints about Brothers who used corporal punishment unfairly. One witness, who was in Artane in the 1940s, was accused of stealing when in fact he had just performed an act of kindness. The complainant used to deliver potatoes to the wife of a staff member, and she would give him a piece of bread and jam as a reward. On one of those occasions he was subjected to a beating by a number of Brothers who had become suspicious of his having the bread and jam. He said that was taken into Number 6 classroom and beaten. He told the Committee:

I guarantee you if you were lifted by the locks enough times you will say you done everything. It doesn’t matter whether you done it or not, you will own up to everything. I owned up to everything bar eating the bread and jam. I didn’t realise that that’s what I was getting bet for. I never owned up to eating the bread and jam. I was lifted up and beat. I got no tea that day.

7.264He said that every Brother who was there punched him:

The old men were teaching the young men which was worse still when I think about it now. The old men that should have sense teaching the young men how to effect punishment.

7.265Later, he said that he was positive that the Disciplinarian was the man who showed the other Brothers how to beat him. The strap was also used on this occasion:

At that time I don’t think I should have been beat. That’s why I am so much hard against that. I don’t think that them men should have hit me that day for nothing at all.

7.266He could not forgive them for it. He was visibly upset when talking about this incident, and said that this resentment about the injustice of it all had hurt him all his life. Recalling another incident when he was sent to town and went to a shop without permission, he drew the distinction between deserved and undeserved punishment:

I don’t forgive them men because I really do not forgive them because I really think that they beat me unnecessarily. Doing a good turn and they come and bash you … I don’t think I should have been bashed up. I could have been bashed up for taking children to the bus and I might have been accepting it because I didn’t go in a straight line, I didn’t go from Artane back, I went to Woolworth’s instead. I know I was wrong there. I should have been bashed up for that. But I don’t accept being bashed up for the bread and jam.

7.267Another witness, at the School from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s, said:

You don’t seem to understand, the place was built on terror, regular beatings were just accepted. What you’re hearing about is the bad ones, but we accepted as normal run of the mill from the minute you got up, that some time in that day you would get beaten. The last two out of the washroom got beaten. The last two out of the boot room got beaten. The last two down to the piss pots got beaten. Everything was timed and everyone that was last got beaten. We accepted that. We didn’t even regard that as cruelty. That was the way the regime was run.

7.268Another witness, at Artane from the late 1940s to the early 1950s, was punished for trying to stop a Brother hitting his younger brother. He described the incident:

[My younger brother] knew nothing, he was only 7, as you know, and I cannot exactly remember what he chastised him for but he started hitting him anyways so I said “leave him off, he is only a boy”. I was only a boy myself. He just laid off and he laid into me then. I just remember vaguely, that was my first impression of that particular Brother, you know.

7.269Another former resident described how he was hit for bed-wetting:

I used to wet the bed and try and hide it, try and make my bed dead quick. Then after a few days they used to come around the dorm and pull it back, probably because of the smell of piss. Then when they caught you, you just got a whack around the head, you know. You were told … to take your sheets and put them up in the corner and when you came back at night you would pick them up.

7.270A witness who was there a decade earlier insisted that, in his day, the bed-wetters were given the strap:

They were called out of their beds, yes, while everybody was in their beds doing the things they were doing, reading. The sound box wasn’t on every night but it seems on these nights it would be off and he would call out, the teacher would call out the bed-wetters and they would have to line up and they had a strap, I seemed to think that the strap was about 14 to 15 inches long. It was about two inches wide and it was about half an inch to three quarters of an inch … They had to hold their hand out and they would have to pull their sleeve up so there is no chance of the sleeve taking some of the pressure, so you would have to pull your sleeve up and you would have to hold your hand out and the rule was you didn’t pull your hand across, you didn’t pull your hand away … If you pulled your hand away and the Brother got it on the knee, he would just hit you anywhere, the strap would land and you would have to roll yourself up into a ball to try and minimise the areas where this bloke could hit you. You would have it on the head and you would have it on your hands because your hands would be on your head. And used to have it on – he would wallop you on the back. Many times they would go into a bit of a frenzy while doing that. So you had to find the courage of not pulling your hand back and it did take a lot of courage to leave your hand there.

The second rule was that you weren’t allowed to cry. They did not like boys crying. So when the strap landed on your arm, just about halfway up your arm, it would leave a mark on your arm and your hand would go numb. It was only when you got into bed that you could feel the life going back into your arm. It was difficult to be brave on those occasions.

7.271A man described the beatings he received in the 1940s for writing with his left hand:

I was born left-handed, and I learned to write at school left-handed and I was told that the devil was in me that’s why I was left-handed and they decided to stop me. They would come from behind, I wouldn’t know and they would come down with the side of a ruler or a cane on my hand to stop me using my left hand. They beat the devil out of me, that was the saying. I had to use my right hand to write. To this day I couldn’t cut a piece of bread with my right hand, I still do it with my left hand. I butter my bread with my left hand I can’t do it with my right hand. But I write with my right hand.

7.272A resident in Artane, from the late 1940s to the early 1950s, said one Brother punished for ‘minor things’:

Not getting your different letters crossed right when you are writing and just general things that happened in class, like, you know. Not singing properly or not answering when you should answer or not knowing something that he thought you should have known. Things like that, just general sort of stuff.

7.273Another witness, at Artane in the mid-1960s, described being hit after being accused wrongly of tearing a blanket:

We heard [Br Lionel] saying “who tore this blanket?” … I answered him and I says “we don’t know” you know. He didn’t seem to take the answer too well, you know, and he called me down … he asked me again … So I gave him the same answer I gave him the first time, we didn’t know who tore the blanket. He didn’t seem to take that so the next of all he gave me a blow across the head there … with his fists. He had a bunch of keys in his hand. The mark is there on my head if you wish to feel it or if any of your friends. The mark is there, yes. My head bled. I fell to the floor that day and going down I walloped my head off one of the bed legs there. There was rows of beds like in the other dormitory. I hurt my head as well falling to the floor because I wasn’t a very strong boy in them days … I got hearing trouble through the blow afterwards, as life went on.

7.274An ex-resident from the 1960s described the punishments that ensued every Thursday, following the inspection of underpants for soiling:

… when they were to be collected every Thursday night, and you were issued with a clean pair, you would stand by your bed with the underpants in your hand and the Brother would instruct another boy to go around and see who had soiled their underpants. If you came across somebody whose underpants were soiled he would raise his hand and you would go up to top of the dormitory and get a hiding.

7.275He said that it happened more in dormitory number one, because that is where the younger boys were. When asked how the boys were punished, he replied:

The punishment always started with facing the wall, because you faced the wall at the top of dormitory. Then when it came to your turn you put out your hands and you would get slapped.

7.276The number of slaps depended on whatever Brother was in charge. He said that the same Brother wouldn’t be in charge seven nights of the week and it wouldn’t necessarily be the same Brother every Thursday.

7.277Two Brothers confirmed that this degrading underpants inspection and punishment of boys did take place. One of them conceded: ‘If [he] says I put him facing the wall I will admit that. If [he] says I slapped him on the hands I would also admit that’. Although the Brother claimed that the reason for these inspections was because of complaints from the laundry staff about soiled underwear, there was no evidence from complainants that they were required to wash out their underpants if they were soiled, which would have addressed the problem. The Brother also accepted that boys who soiled their underwear did not do so on purpose, and added, ‘I do not think they deserved to be punished’.

Examples of excessive punishments

7.278Many former residents complained of punishments that were excessively severe and violent. One witness, at Artane from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s, described seeing a classmate being beaten. John51 was a very slow learner, but the Brother teaching Irish was not aware of this. He kept asking him questions, and persisted until he got the right answers, even though the boy had no idea what the questions meant:

We started tittering laughing. I think Br Laurent52 thought we were laughing at him. He asked him again. Poor John kept guessing and always getting the wrong one. Eventually Br Laurent just blew his top. He hit that lad and got his head and smashed it … on the bench. The ink wells went up, he was covered in ink, snots, blood, everything. He spent the entire half an hour, three quarters of an hour beating this lad until John eventually had a run of luck and picked this out three times in a row. With that when the bell went or the whistle, Br Laurent just slumped down exhausted from beating this lad. While we were, in the beginning, tittering, some of the lads were crying, we were frightened that he was going to kill him. We made way for him at the door. It was ghastly. The Brother at the other end, one class faced that way and the other faced that way, never intervened once to come down. That wasn’t like Br Laurent but he just lost it that day. He battered this poor lad, he was in bits. So don’t tell me there it was isolated cases, that Brother at the other end should have done something about it but he didn’t.

7.279One witness, at Artane in the 1960s, had reported a Brother for sexual abuse, and he described the purging of ‘badness’, the Artane term for sexual activity, that ensued following his reporting the matter:

After that happened, the next day I was brought out of class and I was questioned about who I was committing badness with … Because I didn’t name names at that particular time, but because of the beating I was getting, I was giving names of other boys who I had committed badness with and those other boys were taken out of class and they were beaten until they gave names. It was just one vicious circle that kept going on for two – for three days. I had been taken out because other boys started giving my name back again. It was even said to me, but who said it I don’t know, “you should have kept your mouth shut and none of this would have happened”..

But for three days I was systematically abused, both outside the classroom, in the dormitory, anywhere where I went within those environments. I was taken to a music room just off the corridor to the right of where the classes are and I had been beaten so much that I went to the toilet in a bin and another boy seen me and told a Brother that I had done that and I was taken back out and flogged again because I had done that. We weren’t allowed to go to the toilet; we were being punished for something that I had started.

7.280Another witness described an occasion when a Brother struck him on the genitals in the course of a beating, and the boy protected himself with his hand but the Brother took his hand away:

“What’s the matter with you? Those are no good to you anyway”… With that, he had me against the wall … He put his fist between my legs and pushed me upwards while I was leaning back against the wall. He had his other hand on my chest to make sure I would fall forward and then he took his hand away.

7.281A former resident who was there in the 1960s described the punishment given to boys whose shoes were ‘cast’. He explained:

what cast means is they were cast out, thrown away because they were absolutely gone beyond repair. Depending on the state of your shoes … would depend on the severity of the clattering you would get.

7.282He then described the punishment:

If your shoes were cast you knew you were going to the wall. You would go and face the wall until they finished the inspection on all the children and then you would receive slaps. With Br Karel53 he could use a hurl, he could use a leather. Br Raoul54 the same, leather, hurl … At times a hurl, at times a leather. At times an open palm. At times, as far as I was concerned a closed fist, pulling of the sideburns, being lifted by your sideburns. The particular instant that would frighten me and still does today was … The chap in front of me at the time was a guy called David.55 When we were going up to get the boots examined you could see that … there was no sole left in the boot and when he got up in front of him, he turned up the boot and I know now I didn’t know then that … Br Raoul was just being totally sarcastic and he said “They’ll do you another week …” and David – it was a relief, he was too young to understand, so was I to what was going on, but when David turned to walk away with his boots, thinking that’s great, he suddenly got a belt of a hurl on the back of – the back, then he was beat up and down the dormitory with a hurl.

Other forms of punishment

7.283Some punishments were peculiar to Artane. Several witnesses described the practice of putting boys ‘on a charge’.

7.284A former resident of the 1940s described what was involved:

Artane, people don’t realise, it was a prison in itself. You were surrounded by gates and you were surrounded by big buildings. If you done something wrong in my time there was a 30 foot wall. I don’t know how anyone was going to get over a building. But you got a little patch to mind and you had to stand minding that wall.

7.285The boys were left there until ‘Whenever they’d feel like coming back for you’.

7.286Another resident who was there between the mid-1940s and mid-1950s said:

I was fairly regularly on a charge in Artane. You were put in charge of a building or a gate and you walked up and down. Br Armande56 would go from gate to gate often passed us and he said to me, “You seem to be in a lot of trouble”.

7.287He explained further:

by the church there was the wicker gate, you were on a charge, it meant you stood by that, you didn’t let anyone out. Then there was another chap on the main gate. Then there was somebody on the building, which was usually me in the last few months. You had to parade up and down there, you couldn’t play … Br Cretien always had a stick up his sleeve. He always beat you with a stick and then you got the charge.

7.288In addition to the strap, some Brothers had idiosyncratic implements, such as a fan belt or a pram tyre. Boys could be struck on the palm of the hand, the arm, the face, the stomach, the legs and the backside. Another implement used was a hurley. Sometimes, boys were punched and kicked. Lay teachers, said one resident who was there in 1940s, did not have a leather. He explained:

there was a bit of social distinction. The lay teachers tended to carry sticks, quite often broken off hurley handles that had been filed and the sharp edges removed leaving a manageable sized club.

7.289Common physical punishments were ‘the clatter’ and lifting boys by the hair at the temples or sideburns. Br Burcet said, ‘My interpretation of clattering would be to give a fellow a thump or a clip behind the ear’. These punishments were often used either as a rapid chastisement or as an immediately available alternative to the strap.

7.290Two Brothers admitted using a dowel. One Brother said, ‘I might have used a dowel … I think they would have come from the carpenter’s shop’.

7.291Br Burcet was more precise. He said:

I recall once using a dowel, yes … I became paranoid about where people were. Now, I was under a lot of pressure and I was often frustrated and so on when boys went missing because I had this fear that we could have another fire. On one occasion, when a boy was missing and we had to spend a lot of time looking for him, the dowel was – a baby’s cot, you know the little thing? I hadn’t a leather that happened to be handy, and I slapped the boy on the hand with that. The thing broke and that was it.

7.292One witness described a punishment chosen to fit the crime. The witness was in Artane from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s, and he described one incident:

I was given my own suit, as I say. The very first Sunday I was there, that was the first time I wore it because that was when we wore our best suits. During the Mass I had terrible runs. I ran down the passageway to the door and Br Cretien blocked my way. He said “You can’t go. The host is exposed”. I had to wait until the Host was put away and then I made a beeline. The latrines were a good 100 yards from where the chapel was. I never made it and I soiled my pants. In those days, in 1945, they didn’t have flush lavatories. It was a box with a bucket underneath. The paper was newspapers cut up. I done my best to clean my pants. We didn’t have underpants in those days, we had lined trousers. I did my best to clean myself and wipe it but I stunk. After breakfast when I went to the dormitory I had to report to Br Boyce he was in charge of dormitory five then … Everybody was busy doing their scrubbing and he told me to take my clothes off. They never had hot water in Artane, the cold tap was put on, I stood in it naked and he got the lads who had the big long scrubbers to scrub me. They weren’t very strong and he didn’t think they were doing a bloody good job anyway. He got the hand scrubber and he said, “I will show you”. (Indicating) He scrubbed all my buttocks and legs down. I was red raw after it. He threw me out. I had to dress there and then. No drying off or anything. That was my only experience with Br Boyce.

Delayed punishment

7.293Witnesses described having to wait before the corporal punishment was administered. Some were taken out of their beds at night to be punished. Boys sent to the Disciplinarian had to wait facing the wall until he was ready to deal with them, which led to an increase in anxiety about what was to come.

7.294Bed-wetters were often the victims of delayed punishment. A boy who was there in the 1950s described the procedure:

[If you wet the bed] the next day you might have to – it depends on what Brother would be on – strip down your bed. You would try and hide it but if you couldn’t hide it then the next night you would have to face the wall up in the dormitory.

7.295Facing the wall meant having to stand in the dormitory, wearing only a nightshirt, when the other boys had gone to bed. Boys remained facing the wall for one or two hours before being allowed to get into bed.

Techniques that increased pain

7.296Some complainants described how the pain of corporal punishment could be intensified through techniques of delivering the blow, or simply through failure to take account of the physical condition of the boy. A resident in the 1940s complained:

When beatings were applied, whether by a leather or strap, no account was taken of whether you had chilblains or you didn’t. You just got it and you took it and who were you to complain to, there was no one to complain to.

7.297A former resident from the same period explained:

Another Brother, if you are talking or doing other things in the dormitory that you weren’t supposed to be doing, he would make you go in to the washroom and put your hand into very cold water, because there was no hot water in Artane, and he would make you put your hand in the cold water for about ten [minutes] to quarter of an hour. Then he would call you out and while your hands were still wet, he used to make you put your hand, palm upwards, on the iron bedstead and he had a foot ruler and he used to slice the top of your fingers. It was only afterwards when the blood returned to your hand that you actually got the pain that was involved. Speaking here, it doesn’t seem to imply that being hit at the top of your fingers was a great punishment but it certainly was. The pain afterwards was more than the actual striking of the fingers.

7.298Another technique was to get the boy to hold his hand over a hard object; the same witness explained the procedure:

There was one teacher, and if he needed to smack you with the strap, would make you hold your hand possibly about an inch or two away from the desk and then he would smack you with this strap … and when they walloped you on the front of the hand, your hand came down on the desk, so you got it on the front and the back of the hand.

7.299Another witness, there in the 1950s, described a similar procedure. He said, ‘You would put your hands out and if he missed he would make you put your hands on the wall … so you couldn’t pull your hand back’.

7.300A resident from the late 1940s described how a teacher would punish boys who got something wrong:

If you didn’t get something right in class, if he asked me a question or whatever it was and I can’t remember what it was, if I didn’t get it right, he would come along and he would take your ear. He said “this part of your ear is no good, it won’t do any harm”. He pierced the side of my ear with his nail and dragged you to the board to write the correct answer on the board whatever it was that you got wrong. He would escort you back the same way. You would have to pray that you didn’t get something wrong the next day because although your ear was sore with a scab on it he would still do the same thing with the same ear.

7.301He then added, ‘Outside of that he never used the cane. I never saw him raise the cane to anyone’.

7.302One of the functions of the rules and regulations for corporal punishment was to ensure that chastisement was carried out only for serious offences, so that the punisher knew how and when to punish and the wrongdoer knew what to expect. One effect of these other forms of punishment was to remove predictability about physical punishment. Uncertainty about what was going to happen next contributed to the climate of fear described by many of the complainants.

Punishment leading to injury

7.303Some witnesses complained that the punishments they received sometimes resulted in serious injury. A former resident from the 1940s described an incident on the playing fields:

[The Brother] was, I would say in his time, a great hurler. He always carried a hurley with him no matter where he went. When I was on the hurling team, when I was fighting to get on it, I was put in goal and I was dropped and he then said, “I will teach you to be a good goalkeeper”. He beat – he hit balls at me, I am not sure you know how hard a hurley ball is. He hit hurley balls at me one after the other. One of them hit me on the eye and my eye came up (indicating) really, really large. He apologised. The other balls that hit me on the body and head quite badly. He was the one in actual fact who hit me on the knees … with the hurley. A day later my knees came up like balloons …

It was deliberate because I wasn’t doing what he wanted me to do. I wasn’t being a good enough goalkeeper. I wasn’t stopping enough balls properly … The next day my knees came up like balloons. I couldn’t walk and I was taken down to the infirmary. There was a lady looked after me. I never saw a doctor all the time I was there. I don’t know how long I was there, I can’t remember to be honest with you, he came to visit me when I was there … I was in a while but I can’t remember how long.

7.304In their Opening Statement given before the public hearing, the Christian Brothers outlined the rules, regulations and guidelines that governed the use of corporal punishment in industrial and in national schools. They also give an outline gleaned from internal documents of the policy of the Congregation in relation to corporal punishment. A more detailed analysis of the rules, regulations and policy documents of the Congregation are discussed in the Christian Brother General Chapter.

7.305These regulations setting the acceptable standards of the day were often broken. Moreover, the Brothers often broke the two main provisions about corporal punishment in the Christian Brothers Acts of Chapter, namely that proper comportment, gravity and propriety should be observed in administering corporal punishment, and that the only form of corporal punishment authorised should be a leather strap on the palm of the hand.

7.306Most of the witnesses did not complain of being punished if they had done wrong and deserved chastisement. Their main objections were to unjust, capricious punishments or excessive punishments that were administered without ‘proper comportment, gravity and propriety’, or where the experience was either cruel or humiliating.

Ability to complain

7.307In the course of his interviews on behalf of the congregation, Mr Dunleavy discussed the ability of Brothers to complain to their superiors about incidents or deficiencies in Artane:

No Brothers interviewed recalled any means by which they could make a complaint on any matter concerning the School. Several Brothers expressed feelings of disquiet about things they had seen during their time at Artane but maintained there existed no process by which they could make their feelings of unease unknown. The absence of any proper complaints procedure for staff was mirrored in a total absence of such a procedure for pupils. If a pupil had a complaint relating to any matter within the School or concerning any Christian Brother in the School he would have to make that complaint to another Brother. Apart from the inadequacy of such a system, Brothers being interviewed recognised that such a complaints procedure was unlikely to be invoked by a pupil because of the fear of his complaint being relayed back to the Brother concerned.

7.308Mr Dunleavy reviewed 11 cases of alleged physical abuse and found that they shared certain features:

(a)In no case of an allegation of physical abuse did the School notify the Dept. of Education of the allegation.

(b)In no case where the Dept. of Education became aware of an allegation of physical abuse did it insist on carrying out its own investigation, or insist that an independent investigation be carried out.

(c)In all cases involving allegations of physical abuse of which the Dept. of Education became aware, the Dept. were content on each occasion for the School authorities to investigate themselves.

(d)In no case involving an allegation of physical abuse could I find any evidence that either the School or the Dept. of Education dismissed or disciplined the individual involved.

(e)In no case involving an allegation of physical abuse does it appear that the experience of the incident led the School to establish any safety measures or any appropriate code of practice or even a simple regulation governing the maximum force to be used against a boy, to ensure that such incidents did not recur.

(f)In no case of an allegation of physical abuse, where it was clear that the Dept. of Education’s own guidelines concerning the proper procedures for the notification of an injury to a boy had not been followed, did the Dept. of Education insist on carrying out its own investigation, or insist that an independent investigation be carried out.

7.309The documentary evidence, the recollections of independent witnesses, the evidence heard by the Committee between September and December 2005, and the report of Mr Dunleavy that was commissioned by the Congregation all described a regime of punishment and physical abuse in Artane.

7.310It is an inadequate response to the allegations of physical abuse to attempt to refute them by forensic analysis. The Congregation failed to address central issues about Artane. There is a body of information showing the prevalence of excessive use of corporal punishment in cases that are documented and others that are acknowledged. The evidence of complainants confirms what is beyond dispute. There was an absence of an ordered system of management and governance of the institution that had inevitable consequences.

Conclusions on physical abuse

7.3111.Artane used frequent and severe corporal punishment to impose and enforce a regime of militaristic discipline.

2.Corporal punishment was systemic and pervasive. Management did nothing to prevent excessive and inappropriate punishment and boys and Brothers learnt to accept a high level of physical punishment as the norm.

3.Brothers used a variety of weapons and devised methods of increasing suffering when inflicting punishment, and in some cases they were cruel and even sadistic.

4.Brothers did not intervene to stop excessive punishment by colleagues, and there was a code of conduct between Brothers that prevented criticism of each other’s behaviour, even in cases where it was clearly extreme or excessive. All Brothers, therefore, became implicated in excesses.

5.Even where a child behaved and kept to the rules, he could still be beaten.

6.The result of arbitrary and excessive punishment was a climate of fear.

7.Artane did not operate within the Rules and Regulations for industrial schools and the precepts of the Christian Brothers concerning corporal punishment.

8.The absence of a punishment book in Artane was a disregard for a specific legal requirement intended for the protection of children. The Punishment Book was not maintained in Artane because the Christian Brothers chose not to maintain it.

9.The Department was also at fault in failing to ensure that the statutory punishment book was properly maintained and reviewed at every inspection.

10.The Department of Education failed in its supervisory role by maintaining a defensive and protective attitude towards the management and staff. Even when it conducted an investigation, the Department simply accepted Brothers’ explanations uncritically.

Sexual abuse

The Congregation’s approach to sexual abuse in Artane

7.312The Christian Brothers’ Opening Statement on the issue of sexual abuse commented on six Brothers who were guilty of sexual abuse while they were in Artane. It then discussed five more Brothers who sexually abused boys in other institutions after their time in Artane ‘because of a possible retrospective connection to Artane’. The Statement finally dealt with two cases in the 1930s, in each of which a Brother was assigned to the staff of Artane with knowledge that he had previously been guilty of child sexual abuse.

7.313Following its review of the cases of these 13 Brothers, the Congregation concluded that there was no systemic sexual abuse of boys in Artane. With regard to Brothers who abused, the Statement accepted that they did ‘betray the trust given them causing serious damage to boys in their care’, and it contrasted this with ‘the great number of Brothers who honoured this trust and devoted themselves to the education and welfare of the boys in their care’, to whom it said the offending Brothers caused pain. The Brothers accepted that the approach to instances of sexual abuse was ‘very inadequate by present day standards’ and then went on to propose arguments which were intended to exonerate the Congregation at the time:

  • There was no cover up of the issue.
  • When personnel became aware of the issue, they reported it to the Congregation authorities.
  • Structures in Artane made it possible for boys to bring such issues to the attention of the Resident Manager or other personnel, and this in fact happened.
  • The Congregation removed the abusers from the Institution and, in most cases, from the Congregation.
  • The Congregation Visitor was attentive to the dangers of sex abuse.
  • Guidelines and recommendations were issued to assist with child protection.

7.314The Congregation does not accept any blame as a Congregation for sexual abuse in Artane. It contends that the Brothers who dealt with cases of sexual abuse did so in a proper manner by the standards and procedures of that time. It acknowledged that these procedures would not meet present-day standards. It repeated the apology that it issued to people who suffered abuse in its institutions.

7.315The Congregation contended that Brothers who committed sexual abuse were dealt with severely. A guilty Brother was either given a warning or he was dismissed. Repeat offenders were dismissed. A Brother who had not taken permanent vows was usually dismissed. Of the cases recorded in the archives, 11 Brothers were finally professed and two were of temporary profession. Dealing first with the 11 Brothers in the former category, six Brothers were permitted to apply for and were granted dispensation from their vows, three were given Canonical Warnings, and no sanctions were applied to the remaining two Brothers. One of the two Brothers of temporary profession was dismissed, and the other did not renew his vows at the end of the year.

7.316These details show that the only actual dismissal was in the case of a Brother of temporary profession. The most common sanction was to permit the Brother to apply for a dispensation from his vows, a procedure which required the endorsement of a Bishop. Taking this course spared the Congregation the trouble of proceeding with a formal Canonical trial and it was of immense advantage to the abuser. He was able to leave the Congregation of his own volition, to all appearances in good standing. He was in the same position as a person who had lost his vocation to be a Brother and who had been permitted to rejoin the outside lay world. The records acknowledged this sharp distinction, and detailed comments made by the Congregation also recognised it. For example, in relation to one case, information was given that the Brother:

applied to the Apostolic Visitor who advised him to seek a Dispensation from Vows. His application was granted and he left the Congregation …

7.317In another case, a decision was made that the Brother ‘should be dismissed from the Congregation but he was given the opportunity to apply for a Dispensation from Vows’. In a subsequent general comment on the six cases of Brothers recorded as having been guilty of sexual abuse in Artane, the Opening Statement confusingly appeared to equate these two quite different means of exiting the Community of the Christian Brothers:

The sanction applied was either dismissal or a canonical warning. In cases where it was decided to dismiss a Brother, the normal procedure was to instruct him to apply for a dispensation from vows.

7.318The records indicate that the authorities were very well aware of the distinction between dismissal and a grant of dispensation from vows, which was a considerable benefit offered to an abuser otherwise facing expulsion. Dismissal means removal from office, not permission to resign. The Brothers’ Statement offered no explanation as to why this facility was offered to offenders.

7.319The Opening Statement made a cursory reference to the question why abuse was not reported to the Gardaí:

It would appear that the abuse was not reported to the civil authorities. However, reporting of allegations and/or instances of child sex abuse may not have been common practice in the general population at the time.

7.320The implication is that sex abuse against children was not normally reported to the Gardaí by ‘the general population at the time’ and that this furnished mitigation or explanation of the failure by the Brothers. The introduction of ‘allegations’ is not relevant in a section dealing with recorded cases of undisputed sexual abuse committed by Christian Brothers. Moreover, what may or may not have been common practice in the general population cannot be the rule for providers of childcare who should be setting standards. And, as a later account will show, the practice of the Brothers differed according to the case: when laymen were suspected of sexual abuse, the Christian Brothers reported them to the Gardaí.

7.321Dealing with the two cases where Brothers known to be guilty of sexual abuse elsewhere were assigned to Artane, the Christian Brothers observed that this was unacceptable by current-day standards, but the implication is that it was acceptable by the standards of the time. The Christian Brothers in their submission to the Investigation Committee stated that the ‘fact that it happened in the past is indicative of the lack of understanding of the recidivistic nature of child abuse’. The Statement does not indicate on whose part there was the lack of understanding, but a helpful pointer is found in the introductory remarks to this section. Here, it is stated that the long-term psychological damage caused by sexual abuse was not understood by society at the time ‘nor was the recidivist nature of child sexual abuse’. These failures of understanding are attributed to society at the time, and the ‘response of the Congregation to instances of sexual abuse was conditioned by this inadequate understanding of the issue’.

7.322In its Opening Statement, the Congregation did not accept any responsibility at Congregational level for the undeniable, recorded abuse that took place in Artane. They blamed society for its inadequate understanding of the long-term psychological effects of such abuse and its recidivist nature. They claimed that the Brothers behaved appropriately for the time, although they did concede that these past methods would not now be considered proper. The Christian Brothers had long experience dealing with sexual abuse, and were better informed than others about its dangers and prevalence. They could not, therefore, attribute their failure to respond to a ‘lack of understanding’.

Documented cases of sexual abuse

Br Platt57

7.323The earliest record of a Brother sexually abusing a boy in Artane dated from the early 1930s. It was specifically furnished by the Christian Brothers as an illustration of how expeditiously these cases were dealt with by the Congregation.

7.324Br Platt, who was in charge of the infirmary in Artane, voluntarily confessed to the Superior that he had ‘abused a boy and acted immodestly with him’. The Superior referred the matter to the Provincial Council, and the case was considered by both the Provincial Council and the General Council. The Superior General wrote to the Provincial, saying that he had interviewed the offending Brother in August 1932 and ‘told him of the risk we ran in retaining him in the Congregation’. He was given one day to consider applying for a dispensation from perpetual vows or stand trial within the Congregation. The following day, Br Platt appeared before the General Council and informed it of his decision not to apply for a dispensation. His expulsion was then considered and a vote was taken on the issue. The Council unanimously voted in favour of his retention in the Congregation rather than expulsion. He was given a Canonical Warning and the daily recital of the Miserere as a penance and was ‘sent back to Baldoyle’. The Council noted that he was very repentant.

7.325It appears that there was reluctance at a high level within the Congregation to expel this Brother, despite their awareness of the danger he posed. The Superior General was very worried about the situation, because he wrote in a letter to the Provincial on 19th August 1932 that he considered him to be ‘a great danger to us’ and also considered it a ‘risk’ to retain him in the Congregation. He even cited cases where two Brothers had been hanged in Canada for ‘murder of their victims after such offence’:

He is a great danger to us. Two Brothers were hanged in Canada within the past two years for murder of their victims after such offence. A Brother of a community in charge of an Industrial school in Rome awaits his trial for the murder of a boy in the school who told of his offence to his Superior. The school is closed and the community disbanded.

7.326No consideration was given to the child who had been abused. In fact, the Brother could not even recall his exact name. There was no record of the boy being spoken to.

7.327Notwithstanding the concern of the Provincialate, this Brother was assigned to Glin Industrial School in the late 1930s and remained there for seven years.

7.328This Brother refused to seek a dispensation from his vows and the Congregation unanimously agreed not to take action. This case shows that the Congregation knew, as early as 1932, of the recidivist nature of these offenders. His description as a ‘danger’ and a ‘risk’ to the Congregation illustrates a clear understanding of this man’s propensity to re-offend, but it is noteworthy that the ‘great danger’ was to the Congregation and not to the boys.

Br Herve58

7.329The second recorded account of sexual abuse by a Brother who served in Artane concerns Br Herve, who was sent there in the late 1930s with a history of sexual abuse in a previous school in the south of the country, and who worked there on administrative duties until his retirement some seven years later. He came to Artane following a short stay in an institution to which he had been moved as a matter of urgency. In the school in which he was a teacher, Br Herve was accused of having ‘kissed, fondled, embraced and meddled with boys in his class’ and he admitted that the charges were ‘substantially true’. Br Herve’s Superior was aware of his activities for at least four years. The Superior was not alone in his knowledge, because, as the correspondence discloses, boys in the School, some parents, the Dean of the diocese, local clergy and even visiting priests conducting Missions were aware of the Brother’s behaviour, in addition to some members of the public.

7.330The problem presented by Br Herve’s conduct in his school came to a head in early 1938, when the Superior expelled two boys for immorality, following an investigation that he said he carried out reluctantly. ‘Why I moved in the case of the boys … at all was because two mothers – Doctors’ wives asked me to investigate certain bad conduct and of course language going on in a certain class’.

7.331One mother, whose boy was expelled, tried to get him reinstated and consulted a local solicitor, who was unsympathetic and called to see the Superior and told him that what he did ‘was quite right and that he would not touch the case’.

7.332The boy’s mother had more success in enlisting the support of the Dean of the Parish than with the solicitor. In February 1938, the Dean called on the Superior of the School and asked that Br Herve be ‘removed at once on grounds of immorality’. The Dean stated that Br Herve ‘kisses, fondles, embraces and indeed fiddles or meddles with the boys’ and that this ‘has been going on for the past five years’. The Dean said that Br Herve’s activities had been brought up at the last Mission in the parish, when a number of parents asked the Missioner for advice as to what to do. He had recommended that they report the matter to the Superior of the College, but the parents refused, ‘not wishing to get the Brother concerned into trouble’. The Dean was reluctant to get involved; indeed, he specifically asked the Superior not to ‘drag him into it’ but was just asking him to transfer Br Herve from the School.

7.333The Superior had known about Br Herve for years, as he informed the Provincial:

During the past few years I spoke to Br Herve about these matters, while last September I called him into the Office and abused him and rated him roundly for his kissing of the boys and his fondling of them. On that occasion he promised to give it up for good.

7.334The Superior did not tell the Dean that Br Herve had a history of misconduct with boys: ‘In speaking to the Dean I did not pretend to know such a thing existed at all’.

7.335The Superior told the Provincial that in his view the matter had come to light out of ‘a woman’s revenge’, but he accepted that ‘Quite apart from this it appears that Br Herve is guilty’. He suggested that, if the Provincial investigated the matter, he should do so discreetly and not come to the School during school hours. The Provincial dispatched one of his Consultors who stayed in a hotel so that ‘the investigation could be carried out quietly’. This Brother recorded that Br Herve:

admitted that the charges were substantially true. He did kiss and fondle boys, but always (a) openly, (b) when others were present, and never in a gross manner. It was not alleged by anyone that there was gross immorality at any time.

7.336Because he had admitted his guilt, the Br Consultor did not feel that it was necessary to investigate the matter further, which saved him the ‘disagreeable duty’ of seeing those who had made the charges, and saved Br Herve and the School ’from talk that would arise if an investigation were to be made by me’. He recommended Br Herve’s immediate removal because:

His actions are a constant source of talk and criticism among the boys and their parents. It may be taken for granted that he is much talked of [in the area] and being one who is loose in morals, and one who should not have charge of boys.

7.337The Provincial took immediate action and ordered that Br Herve be transferred. He wrote to Br Herve notifying him and also referring to the impact of his abusive activities on the Congregation and on the boys who were abused:

By indulging in such improprieties you have scandalised your pupils, given rise to a good deal of unsavoury gossip among them and their parents, done grave injury to the reputation of the College, brought discredit on yourself, and, I greatly fear lowered the Brothers in the estimation of a big section of the public. May God grant that the consequences are not worse.

Every Christian Brother is bound by his Rule as well as by the laws of charity and justice to do all in his power to safeguard the virtue of his pupils and to assist them as far as he can to preserve their innocence if they have not already lost it. You[r] conduct was well calculated to rob them of this precious treasure of innocence. What greater wrong could you do them? You cannot reasonably make the plea that you did not realise the gravity of your offence.

7.338The Provincial gave Br Herve a Canonical Warning pursuant to Constitution 218 and a ‘serious warning that a repetition of any of the faults with which you are now charged will render you liable to expulsion from the Congregation’. He told Br Herve to make a determined effort to combat his ‘immoderate tendency to softness in dealing with your pupils and to think seriously over the grave spiritual harm your actions inflict on both them and yourself’. He also stated that, ‘May God grant that the consequences are not worse’. He transferred Br Herve as soon as possible pursuant to the rules of the Congregation.

7.339On the same day that he wrote to Br Herve, the Provincial also wrote to the Superior of the School sympathising in ‘the amount of worry and humiliation that has been inflicted on you by the deplorable conduct’ of Br Herve. He stated that:

The unfortunate man is really more to be pitied than to be censured, but to make him realise the gravity of his offence I am giving him the canonical warning provided for in the Constitution, and in doing so I think I am adopting the most charitable course that can be pursued in a case of this kind.

7.340The Superior replied, thanking the Provincial for his comments and agreeing that Br Herve was more to be pitied than to be censured and concluding ‘He just has no control over his hands …’.

7.341The Superior reinstated the expelled boy in the School. His mother had threatened to inform the Bishop and to ‘bring this case further and further’. As he told the Provincial, the Superior had to ‘capitulate with the best grace I could’.

7.342The crisis was resolved with the boy’s return to the School and Br Herve’s transfer. The Superior was more than a little relieved:

For the past four years I always feared that when the inevitable would come in his case that it would be much more serious.

7.343Similarly, the Superior noted that the complaining parent was not sure whether Br Herve had ‘meddled with the boys in their privy parts’ but thought not. He then commented. ‘Knowing Br Herve as we do I thank God he did not do worse’.

7.344During the Phase III hearing into Artane, Br Reynolds, referring to the nature of Br Herve’s meddling, commented as follows:

But I mean, what the Provincial believed or didn’t believe I am not sure is of any consequence. What I was saying in the submission is that the lady thought it didn’t happen, the Dean thought it did. And, obviously, that’s the view that I am taking, that if the Dean thought it did well then it did happen.

7.345It was put to Br Reynolds that this comment showed clearly that the Congregation was aware of the recidivistic nature of abuse as far back as 1938. Br Reynolds did not agree:

I would come back to say that this letter, in my view, does not point out that the recidivistic nature of child abuse was known to whoever wrote it. What he is saying is that this individual person, certainly he believed, abused but he wasn’t in a position to take any action on it until he had sufficient proof.

7.346This observation is scarcely correct, as the correspondence shows that the Superior had brought Br Herve into his office in September 1937 ‘and abused him and rated him roundly for his kissing of the boys and his fondling of them. On that occasion he promised to give it up for good’. However, Br Reynolds persisted in his view that they had no evidence prior to 1938.

7.347Br Reynolds was also reluctant to accept that the reference to ‘May God grant that the consequences are not worse’ referred to the involvement of the Gardaí or other authorities:

That’s your interpretation is all I am saying … Off the top of my head that would not have been my interpretation of that. But I am not saying that you are not correct in that.

7.348The Superior did not incur criticism although, in his correspondence to the Provincial, he admitted that he was aware of Br Herve’s activities for years but did not even report to his own authorities until events forced his hand. Instead, the Provincial sympathised with him.

7.349The letter from the Provincial to Br Herve shows awareness of some of the damage that sexual abuse could inflict on a child.

7.350In conclusion:

  • The School was driven to take action only when there was a threat to expose the behaviour of Br Herve.
  • The Provincial expressed sympathy for, rather than criticism of, the Superior.
  • The offending Brother was considered to be an unfortunate man who was ‘more to be pitied than censured’.
  • There was relief that worse did not happen, having regard to the known habits of Br Herve.
  • The Congregation was aware of the harm Br Herve was inflicting on children in his care, but did nothing to alleviate it or to ascertain the full extent of the damage.
  • Sending a Brother with this history to a residential school for boys was reckless and dangerous, and showed a disregard for the safety of children in care.

Br Gustav59

7.351Br Gustav began teaching in the O’Brien Institute in the 1920s. Three boys made written statements in which they alleged that ‘they had been immodestly handled’ by him on a number of occasions. These written statements no longer exist. The matter was considered so serious that it was referred to the General Council for consideration. At his trial before the General Council, the Brother ‘admitted immodesty in each case stated but not as gross as specified’.

7.352The General Council issued a Canonical Warning to Br Gustav and imposed as a penance the daily recital of the Miserere for six months. A further condition was his transfer out of Dublin, with the injunction that he was not to return without the leave of the General Council. It was conceded in the minutes of the General Council meeting that this Brother had been dealt with very leniently:

This lenient treatment of [Br Gustav] is largely due to the man’s age and, although it was not told him, to his very low condition of health.

7.353After these events, the Brother was transferred frequently from school to school in the north of Ireland, spending on average two years in each, before being assigned to Artane for a short period prior to his retirement to Baldoyle. No allegations were made against him in Artane.

7.354No dispensation or expulsion was sought in respect of Br Gustav. Although ill-health was suggested as the reason for leniency, he remained a Christian Brother until his death some 19 years after the charges were brought.

Allegations of sexual abuse against four Brothers resident in Artane in 1944

7.355Br Leroi60 was accused of sexually abusing boys in Artane in 1944. His personal card retained by the Congregation stated, ‘Evidence of immoral relations with boys in Artane came to light’. This Brother sought a dispensation from his vows and left the Congregation in 1944, and the Department of Education service history records Artane as his last teaching post.

7.356Br Laurent, who gave evidence to the Investigation Committee, said:

… he came to Artane the same year as I was there. We arrived at the same time. The outgoing [Superior] said to Br Leroi ‘you are not welcome here’. Probably some accusation had been made about Br Leroi and because of that then he was sent to Artane.

7.357The second case involved Br Tristan61 who worked in the kitchen. He was found to have sexually abused a number of boys following complaints made by the boys themselves. He was tried by the General Council in 1944 and was unanimously adjudged guilty. When the charges were laid against him, he:

denied “some” of the matter of each charge, admitted “jostling” or “wrestling”, said he had “no bad intention” and “never lay on any boy” in the back-store so often referred to by boys. He admitted “tricking” with several boys, denied “touching” a boy’s face or body.

7.358The minutes recorded that the abuse had occurred frequently over a long period of time. The boys had given detailed written statements, which indicated long, continuous and frequent wrong-doing on the part of this Brother.

7.359These statements were not discovered to the Committee and would appear not to have survived in the records of the Congregation. The General Council voted unanimously to expel him. He appealed the decision to the Apostolic Visitor, who advised him to seek a dispensation from his vows, which he duly did. The dispensation was granted and he left the Congregation in 1944.

7.360Br Tristan had arrived in Artane in the early 1940s under a cloud of suspicion from Carriglea Park Industrial School, where he had served on the staff for a year. From the records, it appears that he had been given a Canonical Warning because of ‘an incident’ that arose during his time in Carriglea before he was sent to Artane. No details are provided as to the exact nature of this incident. It also appears that he was transferred to Carriglea from a training college under suspicious circumstances. Again, no details are given of his time in this college, where he was stationed during the 1930s, or what warranted his removal. The minutes of the meeting of the General Council, where the details of this Brother’s trial in the Artane case are recorded, stated that he:

… was also reminded of the causes of his removal from [the training college] and Carriglea – a Canonical Warning had been given him re Carriglea incident.

7.361Br Julien,62 the third Brother who was found guilty of sexually abusing boys, was a non-teaching Brother who had served two terms in Artane and had spent seven years in Salthill in the 1930s. His personal card stated: ‘Clear evidence came to light of serious, long-continued misconduct with boys in Artane’.

7.362Br Julien applied for dispensation from his vows, which was granted and he left the Congregation. The documents did not give any details of the nature of the abuse that this Brother had engaged in with the boys, and there were no documents concerning how the allegations came to light or what investigation was carried out.

7.363Br Edgard,63 the fourth Brother who was dismissed from Artane in 1944, was a teaching Brother who was not yet a fully professed member of the Congregation. In this case, the statements of six boys who complained of sexual abuse by the Brother were furnished in discovery. The boys ranged in age from 11 to 14 years. The case of this Brother was the only one that provided any information as to the nature of the sexual abuse that was alleged. The allegations were of fondling of their private parts, tickling their bodies, and embracing them. The incidents occurred in the classroom, in the Brother’s own room and in the boys’ dormitory. Br Edgard was transferred to a Dublin day school and was shortly thereafter refused permission to take final vows and left the Congregation. The Department of Education service history recorded the Dublin day school as his last teaching post.

7.364The Visitation Report dated 30th October 1944 referred to the dismissal of these Brothers who were ‘accused of irregularities’. No direct reference was made to the fact that they had sexually abused boys in the School, it merely referred to ‘irregularities’ being ‘discovered some weeks ago in the Institution’. The Visitor who wrote this report took the view that ‘there was nothing to be alarmed at’ and went on to state that:

In our Institutions it should be considered a very grave offence for a Br. to take a boy to his room on any pretext, or to be seen alone with a boy on any occasion.

7.365He went on to state that this rule was breached in Artane:

Unfortunately the Rule forbidding such was not observed in Artane. Boys were also taken out of the shops and off the parade by Brothers for various reasons. These have now been prohibited.

7.366The Visitation Report, having acknowledged inappropriate conduct on the part of four Brothers, made a number of recommendations to prevent such events in the future. These recommendations provide some clue as to circumstances of the discovery of the abuse. One recommendation made by the Visitor was that:

Brothers should not prevent or discourage boys to come to the Superior even with complaints. Boys should have free access to the Superior at all times. If that were the practice the disturbing conduct experienced lately would have been avoided.

7.367Another recommendation was:

No Brother – young or old – is to allow a boy to enter his bedroom, nor is any Brother allowed to take a boy from the school, shops, or parade. No Brother is to be alone with a boy anywhere. Any Br. who sees this Rule violated is to report it immediately to the Br. Superior.

7.368It was also recommended that glass panels should be inserted in the doors of locked rooms near the kitchen and store-rooms, and that the ‘Superior should have access to all rooms and stores in the Institution at all reasonable times and keys should be provided to enable him to have such access’. A subsequent Visitor considered this unnecessary and the glass panels were not inserted.

7.369A letter written to the Superior General by the Visitor in October 1944 stated:

I have spent a week in the above Institution, and have come to the conclusion that there is very fine work being done here. The boys are very open and intelligent and now that the rotten bricks have been removed the structure will be more than safe for the future.

The Brothers who were outside the circle were quite unaware of what was going on and knew nothing about it until all was over. Thank God the disease was discovered in time, and that such a drastic remedy was applied. I don’t think there will be any more “Dry rot” for many a long year.

7.370One ex-staff member, Br Saber,64 spoke of the importance of the boys’ sodality introduced by the Resident Manager which met once a week:

During my ten years there, there was no case against – of sexual abuse brought against a Brother. I would say due to, I suppose, the group that were there and due to the sodality and that the boss was conscious of it and that he would keep an eye out for it and ask the lads. He was an active man, he would come there, he would walk the dormitories at night, he would be around. He had his ear to the ground. Br Dennet was the same. There were Brothers there who knew more about institutes than I did, the younger Brothers. All we thought of was keeping them occupied, taking them out to games, taking them to circuses, you know.

7.371The sodality gave an opportunity for boys to talk informally to the Resident Manager and this led to the discovery of sexual abuse.

7.372Some years later, in a letter dated 19th November 1958 to the Superior following a Visitation, the author strongly recommended the establishment of a sodality or the introduction of the Legion of Mary for the boys:

I understand there was a sodality in the past but that it was abused in some way. Therefore in introducing such a sodality again it would have to be done with discretion and I think it would be better for a member of the staff to introduce and look after it rather than the Superior.

7.373It is possible that the level of sexual abuse in Artane in 1944 was an aberration, but it is also possible that discontinuing the informal contact between the Superior and the boys resulted in such behaviour going undetected in subsequent years.

Br Lancelin65

7.374Br Lancelin came under suspicion of sexual involvement with boys while he was in Artane in 1944 and was transferred to Carriglea. His personal card stated:

Suspicion had been aroused by a tendency to particular friendship with a boy in Artane.

7.375In Carriglea, sexual abuse was disclosed and several boys furnished written statements accusing Br Lancelin of ‘immoral conduct’. (These allegations are dealt with in more detail in the Carriglea chapter.) The complaints were investigated by the Brother Provincial, who referred the matter to the General Council. When the case came to trial before the General Council, Br Lancelin admitted to the offences and pleaded guilty. The personal card made reference to one of the offences committed saying, ‘One offence occurred on Xmas. day 1944, though he made vows on Xmas. morning’.

7.376The General Council voted unanimously to dismiss him from the Congregation in 1945. Again, this Brother was not a finally professed member but rather a temporarily professed Brother and so dispensation from vows was not an issue.

7.377Br Laurent said that he recalled Br Lancelin leaving Artane, but he did not know the reason for his transfer and had not heard his name mentioned in connection with child abuse. The Department of Education records indicated that Carriglea was this Brother’s last teaching post.

Br Gaillard66

7.378In the early 1950s, a complaint of sexual abuse was made against Br Gaillard, who was then teaching in a north Dublin primary school. This Brother had taught in Artane in the mid-1940s. There is no documentary evidence of complaints against this Brother in Artane, although he did apply for a transfer from there due to ‘conscientious reasons’.

7.379The complaint was made by the father of a boy who reported to the Superior that this Brother was abusing his son and up to 12 other boys in the primary school. The abuse took place in the Brother’s private room, where he sat the boys on his lap and fondled their private parts. Br Gaillard received a Canonical Warning and was transferred to another Christian Brothers’ primary school, where he remained for three years. In the mid-1950s, he wrote to the Superior General, voluntarily seeking a dispensation from his vows on the basis that he was unable to prevent himself from interfering with boys. In this letter he wrote:

I received a Canonical Warning for interfering with boys. I cannot overcome it. I have tried it for three years and it is worse I am getting. I just find it impossible to stand in front of a class as a Christian Brother.

7.380Br Gaillard was granted a dispensation a month later, and shortly thereafter took up a teaching post at another school, where he stayed for two and a half years.

7.381In the late 1950s, the Provincial of the Christian Brothers wrote to the manager of another school in the west of Ireland who had sought a reference in respect of Mr Gaillard. The Provincial was frank about his history of sexual abuse. He referred to his ‘interference (morally) with boys’ and felt that he could not write a reference for him. Notwithstanding this setback, Mr Gaillard was still able to continue teaching until his retirement in the mid-1980s. He did two short periods of teaching in rural schools, both of which commenced and ended in the middle of school terms, which is unusual and which might imply removal for misconduct. Br Laurent, who was on the staff of Artane at the time, told the Investigation Committee that he knew Br Gaillard, but had never heard of him having any involvement with abuse in Artane.

7.382In conclusion:

  • Br Gaillard was transferred within the Congregation, notwithstanding a history of abuse.
  • His letter seeking dispensation could not be clearer in underlining the danger he posed to children.
  • By being granted a dispensation from vows, he left the Congregation apparently in good standing.
  • He was able to move into a teaching job immediately on leaving the Congregation.
  • The Provincial, when asked directly for a reference, was not afraid to identify him as a danger to children, but there is no evidence that he took steps to notify other schools or the Department of Education.
  • Despite the employment pattern of this man prior to 1960, there are no known complaints about his later career.

Br Fremont67

7.383Br Fremont taught in Artane in the early 1950s, and was later found to have sexually abused boys in a Christian Brothers’ school in the Midlands. In the late 1950s, the mother of a boy in the School made a complaint about Br Fremont to the Superior of the School. From a report written by the Superior to the Provincial Council, it appears that Br Fremont got boys to expose their private parts and he also exposed himself to them. The Superior questioned him about these incidents, and he admitted that they were true.

7.384The Superior referred the matter to the Provincial Council of St Mary’s Province. A member of the Provincial Council then interviewed Br Fremont. In the course of this interview, the Brother, when questioned about whether he had abused boys in Artane, admitted that he had once interfered with a boy in Artane, and that in another school where he had been teaching there had also been an incident. He further admitted that the sexual abuse in the Midlands school had taken place. This case was considered so bad that the unanimous decision of the Council was to dismiss him, but he was given the option of voluntarily seeking a dispensation from his vows, which he exercised. The dispensation was accordingly granted.

7.385The Department of Education records indicate that he ceased teaching within the State system at that time.

Br Ricard68

7.386Br Ricard, who taught in Artane in the mid-1950s, sexually abused boys in a Christian Brothers’ school in Waterford in the late 1950s. There is no documentary evidence of complaints about him during his time in Artane. His earlier abuse came to light when one of the boys abused in Waterford became a pupil at a private secondary school run by another Religious Community. Br Ricard wrote a ‘sordid and immoral letter’ to the boy which was intercepted by the Superior of the College, who informed a member of the Christian Brothers Provincial Council. The Brother’s personal card states that he ‘admitted accusations of having interfered immodestly with at least one 12 year old pupil’.

7.387A meeting of the General Council was held, at which he admitted the charges. Both the Provincial and General Councils at the time considered his case to be the worst of its kind that they had ever come across and voted unanimously for his immediate dismissal. Nevertheless, he was given leave to apply for a dispensation from his vows, which he did. His departure was immediate and was obviously considered very serious, as he was put on a boat and sent to England.

7.388A letter sent the following day to the Brother Procurator General, regarding the dispensation from perpetual vows of Br Ricard, reveals the anxiety felt by the Brothers about this case:

This is one of the worst cases we have had in my experience. It is so bad that we have voted unanimously in both Provincial and General Councils that he be granted a dispensation …

7.389The letter discloses how the abuse was detected:

For a whole year he had been “interfering” in a homosexual way with two or three very respectable pupils at [a private secondary college]. One of these came to [a college run by another Order] last August and it was through a letter censored by the [Superiors at that college] that the whole matter came to light. The Brother admitted everything the boy … had stated.

7.390The letter goes on to say:

We fear that the evil ways into which he had fallen may be of some years duration. He leaves immediately for England (on leave of absence). Were he to remain in Ireland and were the parents of the boys to get to know of his behaviour at [the Christian Brothers College] there would be a great danger of a public prosecution.

The case is, as I have stated, one of the worst we have had. Do everything you can to secure an immediate Dispensation and forward same as expeditiously as you can.

7.391Br Ricard sought a reference, but was not provided with one as it was felt that ‘there is no knowing what use he might make of it’. According to a letter written by the Provincial Assistant to the Superior General, he was informed that he could not continue teaching and would not be given a reference. However, it appears from records furnished by the Department of Education and Science that the ex-Brother came back to Ireland less than a year later and took up a senior position in a school in Co Kildare and remained there for some years. He was then appointed an assistant teacher at a school in Dublin where he worked for a few years, before moving to a Dublin secondary school where he worked until the late 1980s.


  • The Congregation facilitated this man’s immediate departure for England so as to avoid a ‘great danger of a public prosecution’.
  • The Brothers did not inform the parents about the abuse of the boy who had been abused.
  • It is clear, by inference from the correspondence, that the boy’s College authorities behaved similarly towards the parents of their pupil.
  • The man was able to return to Ireland and obtain a senior teaching position after a year’s absence.
  • The Congregation put self-interest in avoiding adverse publicity before their duty to the boys in their care and to their parents.

Br Karel

7.393Br Karel, who was removed from Artane following allegations of sexual abuse in the 1960s, spoke about the allegations, which he denied in full, and the events leading to his leaving Artane. Br Karel said that, in the early 1960s, he was approached by the Manager of the School, who told him that two boys had signed a joint statement in which they alleged that ‘I put my hand under the bedclothes and touched them in the genital area’. A third boy also made a similar allegation but he did not sign the joint statement. The boys made these written allegations after speaking with the chaplain, Fr Henry Moore. Fr Moore recalled speaking to the Superior in Artane, Br Ourson, about an allegation of sexual abuse that had been reported to him by a pupil. He could not recall the name of the Brother in question, but he could confirm that the Brother was removed shortly after the complaint had been communicated.

7.394The Resident Manager informed Br Karel of the allegations and that the Provincial Superior would have to be informed. Within days, he was summoned to the Provincial’s office in Marino, where he was asked about the allegations:

I explained as best I could that I didn’t do it, that there was a mistake somewhere, what could I do, what else could I say? I didn’t do it and that was as honest as I could be in saying that.

7.395Br Karel was not shown the written statement signed by the boys, neither was he given an opportunity to question the boys himself. He was asked if the allegations were true, and he denied them. As far as he was aware, no further investigation of the matter took place. He returned to his normal duties in Artane for a year, before being transferred to a day school outside of Dublin. Some ten years after leaving Artane, he was transferred to Letterfrack, where he worked for less than two years.

7.396When this Brother applied for a dispensation from his vows many years after these allegations, a report was prepared by a senior Christian Brother, which stated:

While Br Karel was in Artane an accusation was made against him that he had interfered sexually with some of the boys. The Provincialate files are incomplete on this and contain simply a joint statement of three boys. However, the Provincial at the time … on the basis of the case as presented, transferred Br Karel out of Artane … There is no record of any similar accusation against him in succeeding years.

7.397Whether Br Karel was transferred soon after the complaints or at a later stage remains unclear, but the question of his guilt or innocence was not resolved. The Provincial was satisfied to let the matter rest and to use Br Karel’s desire for a transfer as part of the reason for moving him. The authorities appear to have thought that the allegations were true but they did not investigate the matter. The result was that there were two possible situations: either the School had a child abuser on the staff, or three pupils had made serious, untrue charges against the Brother.

7.398Br Karel maintained that his transfer from Artane was made almost a year after these allegations were made, and a Visitation Report would appear to bear that out. He said that he had already requested a transfer within a year of being sent to Artane, and that the Provincial had also suggested that it would be ‘the wisest thing’ in light of the allegations. In any event, he was not transferred immediately after the allegations were made.

7.399The Brother received no advice or warning following his interview with the Provincial and, indeed, when he applied for dispensation from his vows some 20 years later, he was asked to undergo counselling with a view to saving his vocation.

7.400Br Davet, who spoke to the Committee, recalled Br Karel’s departure from Artane as being unusual because it occurred in the middle of the school year. He said that he had no idea why he left and had heard nothing about a complaint signed by three boys. He also said that he knew nothing about any inquiry carried out by the Superior or the Provincial.

7.401Leaving the situation unresolved was expedient, but it was unfair and unsatisfactory for the Brother and potentially dangerous for the boys.

Br Lamar69

7.402Br Lamar, who had taught in Artane in the early 1960s, applied for dispensation from vows in the early 1970s, stating that he was unable to keep his vow of chastity and that his record in relation to chastity had not been good. A document relating to the application, signed by the Provincial, stated: ‘He is known to have interfered with boys in his class’. It does not specifically state what class or what school this was in. Although there is no document indicating that he abused boys in Artane, at the time of his departure from Artane the Provincial wrote to the Superior General and referred to Br Lamar as someone ‘who did not turn out too well in Artane’.

7.403Witnesses recalled the sudden departure of Br Lamar, one of whom, Br Davet, said:

All I remember was that at prayers one morning he just got up and stormed out, and that was it. I thought he had some sort of a nervous breakdown or something …

7.404Br Davet said that he did not ask any questions about this departure, believing that the man was not well.

Br Adrien70

7.405Br Adrien, who worked in Artane in the early 1960s, was removed as a result of a complaint that was made to the chaplain, Fr Henry Moore, and passed on by him to the Superior and to the Provincial.

7.406Prior to serving in Artane, Br Adrien had served in Letterfrack, and was acknowledged as being a danger to boys there. The Resident Manager of Letterfrack wrote of this Brother in 1959:

I hope you will forgive my candour in saying that I would prefer to have no one at all for the boys’ kitchen than to have the constant strain of watching and worrying about him.

It is impossible to keep one’s eye on him. Every time he gets my back turned he is in the kitchen and goodness knows, there are enough difficulties and worries to contend with, without having to think of him every minute and hour of the day.

The position regarding the Monastery kitchen is regrettable but unfortunately he has not got proper control in the boys’ department either. In my opinion he is not suitable at all to handle young boys and it is positively dangerous, especially in these times, to have him looking after them. A weakness in discipline in this important department will have a very detrimental effect on the boys’ behaviour and will add to everyone’s difficulties and will seriously affect the tone of the school.

Taking the above considerations into account and also your own personal knowledge of Br Adrien I ask you seriously to reflect on the harmful effect his staying here is bound to have, and I entreat you to permit the transfer to go through as originally arranged.

7.407The Superior’s request was granted, but it was scarcely a satisfactory solution to move Br Adrien to St Joseph’s School for Deaf Boys in Cabra. He remained there for two years until he went to Artane and, despite the concerns expressed in the above letter, he was put in charge of the boys’ kitchen.

7.408Some two years later, a letter to the Resident Manager following a Visitation referred to Br Adrien as follows:

I am sorry about Br Adrien and I only hope that we will hear no more about such cases. Rather there will be no such case to hear about.

7.409No further information was provided, and it is unclear what type of ‘case’ was being referred to. The Visitation Report does not give any clearer indication as to what was being alluded to in respect of this Brother and, in fact, the Visitor commended him on his excellent cooking and his improvement of the food for the boys.

7.410The Committee heard evidence from one complainant who made allegations of sexual abuse against Br Adrien. His evidence was unusual in that it was corroborated by the chaplain, Fr Moore. The complainant in this case was 11 or 12 when he went to work in the refectory of Artane. Within a short while, a grooming process was commenced by Br Adrien:

[He] used to take me into his confidence and give me sweets and an apple or an orange or whatever. He used to show me a bit of affection. Obviously, not getting any affection that I used to have from my grandmother, it was lovely to have. I used to look forward to the treats that I used to get—and after a period of time, slowly but surely—not realising what was happening, I was being given sweets and all of a sudden my hand was taken and it was placed on – what we called at the time, we committed badness, but my hand was taken and put on his penis. Being an innocent child, I didn’t realise what was happening, or whatever. I was being shown what to do with my hand and this, that and the other and I was being given sweets.

7.411This went on for a period of time and became more frequent. Br Adrien would often make a point of beating him in the refectory in front of all the boys if he committed any slight infraction: ‘I was being shown who was in charge here, “you do what I tell you to do”’.

7.412Br Adrien had an office at the back of the refectory and, when the complainant was brought there, the same pattern of behaviour continued. The door was locked and he was made to masturbate the Brother in return for sweets and treats. He also alleged that, on one occasion, Br Adrien anally raped him. The second time he tried to do this, the boy resisted by kicking out. In return, he was badly beaten and had no escape from the locked room.

7.413The complainant went to Confession on a Friday in the mid-1960s and told the chaplain, Fr Moore, what had been happening with Br Adrien. He was shocked and asked the boy to repeat what he said outside of the confessional. The boy did so and then the priest reported the matter to the Superior, Br Ourson.

7.414The following Monday, Br Ourson and a large number of the teaching Brothers came out to the pre-school assembly in the yard, and the complainant was summoned to Br Ourson’s office. There, he was asked to repeat exactly what he had told the chaplain. When asked what Br Ourson’s reaction was, he said, ‘I can’t say what his reaction was. All I know is that within 24 hours Br Adrien was gone out of Artane’.

7.415The matter did not rest there. According to the witness, he was taken out of class the next day and was questioned about boys he had been ‘committing badness with’. He was beaten in the course of this questioning until he named boys. Those boys were in turn taken out of class and beaten until they gave names. He was taken out again over two or three days, and was beaten because of being named by other boys:

It was just one vicious circle that kept going on for two – for three days. I had been taken out because other boys started giving my name back again. It was even said to me, but who said it I don’t know, “you should have kept your mouth shut and none of this would have happened”.

7.416He went on to say that for three days he was systematically beaten:

both outside classroom, in the dormitory, anywhere where I went within those environments. I was taken to a music room just off the corridor to the right of where the classes are and I had been beaten so much that I went to the toilet in a bin and another boy seen me and told a Brother that I had done that and I was taken back out and flogged again because I had done that. We weren’t allowed to go to the toilet, we were being punished for something that I had started.

7.417He said that six Brothers punished him during that period:

I was beaten by so many of them at that particular time I can’t say if all done it because I was systematically just taken out and being accused of this and accused of that and there was no let up whatsoever … it was like it was a punishment over me going and reporting.

7.418He recalled being badly bruised and swollen after these events but said that nobody intervened on his behalf:

Brothers didn’t go against Brothers, they all stuck together. I think the whole school knew that I had reported Br Adrien, the whole lot of the Christian Brothers and everything, so there was no sympathy shown for anything that I may have done on my behalf.

7.419From that time on, life for the complainant settled down in Artane, and he was not subjected to any further sexual or physical abuse.

7.420Fr Henry Moore confirmed what this witness said about making the complaint to Br Ourson. He knew he had been an altar boy, and what was being alleged when the boy spoke of ‘badness’. He recalled the boy was very upset and nervous when telling him.

7.421Fr Moore suggested that he should tell the Superior, but the boy’s first reaction to that suggestion was that he was too afraid. It would be taken that he was ‘squealing’, as he put it, on Br Adrien. The boy was relieved when Fr Moore said he would speak with Br Ourson. Fr Moore also reported the allegation to the Provincial Superior in Marino, Br Mulholland, to reinforce his concern about the matter. Fr Moore recalled Br Adrien being removed within a matter of days.

7.422Complainants testified that a campaign of physical punishment directed against sexual activity between boys followed Br Adrien’s removal, but this was denied by the Congregation. Fr Moore remembered complaints being made to him by boys about the activities of a Brother who was going from class to class inquiring in a frightening manner about sexual activity among the boys, although he could not recall if this coincided with the Br Adrien incident:

But I do remember a group, some two, three or four, coming to me and being almost in a state of panic about this. I asked them about what was troubling them and they told me that there was something going on in the school, in the school rooms. Br Videl was going from class to class and calling out boys and inquiring about their sexual activity and getting – and then beating them in the corridor outside of class and getting them to inform on other boys and beating them. This was continuing all throughout a day, a particular day. They were very, very fearful of this. As I say, it seemed to me in a state of panic.

So I decided then that I would have to confront Br Videl myself and relate to him what the boys had said and how distressed they were. He told me that there was a problem of pretty widespread sexual activity among the boys.

7.423Another complainant spoke of a sudden increase at this time in the Brothers’ interest in detecting sexual abuse in the Institution. This Complainant spoke of a particular campaign against sexual behaviour between boys when Brothers used to check on boys in toilet cubicles. He said that the school was assembled and the Brother in charge spoke to the boys and told them of the high number of boys found misbehaving in this way, and told the boys that it had to stop. He himself was never caught by the Brothers, and he said he was not aware what happened to the boys who were detected, although he could recall them being brought into a classroom.

7.424A number of respondent witnesses who were in Artane during this time stated that they recalled Br Adrien being in the kitchen, but they had no recollection of him leaving. Fr Moore said that such an assertion would surprise him very much indeed, as he had certainly noticed his departure and had discussed it with at least one Brother.

7.425The statement in response to the allegation about Br Adrien filed by the Congregation was signed by a Brother who was in Artane for a period which overlapped for one year with the complainant’s stay. The Brother stated that, for the purpose of making his statement, he relied on his own knowledge and personal experience of Artane Industrial School. The statement addressed the issue of sexual abuse in Artane generally, in the same way as all statements signed by representatives of the Congregation.

7.426The statement went on to deal with the specific allegations made by this complainant. It said, in relation to the particular campaign of physical abuse following Br Adrien’s departure, that ‘Whilst there was corporal punishment in Artane at that time, I do not believe that it amounted to the type of violent behaviour that is alleged by the complainant’. In support of this contention, the Congregation quoted the Visitation Report filed by the Congregation after a 1962 visit to the Institution. The Visitor stated:

The discipline generally is good and the Superior as well as the Brothers in general are pleased with it. It is not harsh or severe by any means, but effective nevertheless.

7.427The statement then dealt with the particular allegation that the complainant was taken out of his bed by a number of Brothers and beaten over a number of days as a result of having made the complaint to Fr Moore. It stated:

I can state that I never saw boys being beaten in the manner alleged. I myself never witnessed such beatings, nor did I ever hear allegations of beating of this wide-ranging nature while I was in Artane. The only punishment authorised was with a leather strap and this could only be administered on the hand. I find it difficult to accept that such a large number of brothers would gang up in the manner alleged and cause such disturbance in the school without being detected. The Brothers who are still alive may make their own response to these allegations. Each of these allegations against each of these respondents is not admitted by the Congregation.

7.428It was not alleged by the complainant that this wide-ranging punishment took place during this Brother’s time in Artane. The complainant specified the year in which this event took place, and this was after the departure of this Brother from Artane. There are Christian Brothers in the Congregation who were in Artane during that time and who would have been in a position to speak with more authority on this matter, but they were not selected to make the statement on behalf of the Christian Brothers in this case.

7.429In relation to the allegations of sexual abuse by Br Adrien, the Christian Brothers stated: ‘[Br Adrien] will make his own response to these allegations. They are not admitted by the Congregation. The Congregation denies that sexual abuse was tolerated, accepted or prevalent in Artane’.

7.430Br Adrien was removed from Artane and sent to a day school in Dublin. In the late 1960s, he was returned to Letterfrack for a number of months, following which he went to a Dublin school for 10 years. He later spent 10 years on missionary work. There is no reference in his personal card to his ever receiving any sanction or warning in relation to his abuse.

7.431Sexual abuse by Brothers was a serious issue in Artane, but many Brothers said that they had absolutely no awareness of this problem and no knowledge of any Brother leaving under a cloud.


  • This Brother in the 1960s was in a position to perpetrate serious and repeated sexual abuse of a boy over an 18-month period.
  • The boy was, by his own evidence and by the evidence of Fr Moore, too afraid to report it himself to the Superior, which contradicts the Congregation’s assertion that there was no difficulty about boys who were sexually abused going to the authorities in Artane with complaints.
  • Br Adrien was removed from Letterfrack, where it was ‘positively dangerous’ to have him looking after boys. The implication is clear that he sexually abused boys there.
  • Transferring him to a residential school for deaf boys knowingly endangered a large new group of children.
  • His behaviour in Artane could not have come as a surprise to the authorities.
  • This case demonstrates indifference by the Congregation to the protection of children from a sexual predator. It is evidence of a policy of avoiding the disclosure of abuse rather than dealing with it.

Other cases

Br Dennis71

7.433Br Dennis served in Artane in the late 1960s. He was questioned by the Gardaí in the early 1990s in relation to allegations of interfering with boys, in a school in the north-east of the country, on two occasions between the late 1980s and early 1990s. He denied the allegations at the time, but when questioned about them again almost 10 years later he admitted to a limited level of sexual abuse involving these boys. He also admitted to getting sexual gratification from young boys. Br Dennis told the Gardaí that in the mid-1990s his Superiors sent him to the Granada Institute, a centre for the treatment of sex offenders in Shankhill County Dublin which was operated by the St John of God Order.

7.434Br Dennis also admitted the allegations which had been made by former residents of Artane, insofar as they described inappropriate external touching and fondling. Although these individuals alleged masturbation and anal rape, he did not admit to those more serious charges:

… I wish to say that I accept some of the allegations as being true, insofar as they describe inappropriate external touching and fondling. I deny however any of the allegations that refer to masturbation and buggery.

7.435Only one man who had made a statement to the Gardaí about Br Dennis gave evidence to the Investigation Committee. He alleged that Br Dennis told him to clean his room and, while he was doing so, the Brother took out his penis and then ‘he brought my head down onto his penis which was erect and he rubbed it against my lips’. On another occasion when he was sent to clean the room, Br Dennis ‘started fondling me and played with my penis. He pressed himself against me and ejaculated’. The witness described a third incident that he said took place, in a derelict area near the playing fields, at holiday time when most of the boys had gone home for holidays. He said that this time the Brother had his penis out and attempted penetration, but gave up when the boy screamed with pain.

7.436Br Dennis attended an oral hearing of the Investigation Committee. He admitted to a limited degree of sexual activity with nine- to 12-year-old boys in Artane. He was asked how he began to abuse. He said:

I don’t know how it came about really. At the time I probably deluded myself into thinking that I was being kind to them and using it as a way of encouraging them and making them – I mean, I don’t subscribe to it now, but that’s how I was able to justify it to myself at the time.

7.437Br Dennis had no recollection of the first time he had abused, but was able to confirm that it had occurred in the classroom:

If somebody was having difficulty with a particular problem, mathematics perhaps, I might bring him up and put my arm around his waist or something, and kind of draw him towards me.

7.438He conceded that he had no idea how many boys were involved. He said that the activity had commenced within six months of his arriving in Artane and continued until he had left two years later. He said that it continued ‘fairly regular’ for an 18-month period.

7.439He said he only stopped sexually abusing some 20 years later, when he was detected.

7.440Br Dennis said the urge to interfere with boys had not been present before his appointment to Artane, but had started during his teaching time there:

I was convincing myself that I wasn’t doing anything wrong, that I was kind of giving encouragement or making up for some lack in their lives. I mean I was deluding myself really. But that’s the way I looked on it at the time. I was justifying it for myself in that way.

7.441He said that, although he engaged in this behaviour at the top of the classroom of some 22 to 23 boys, he did not think that they would have been aware of what was going on. Indeed, he said that he believed the boy himself would not have been aware of what was happening. He said that it was totally secret and that he did not discuss it with anyone and that ‘Probably deep down I probably did know it was wrong, yes’.

7.442He admitted that there would have been a selection process:

There would have been. But I am not sure in what way; whether it was the ones that were weaker at a particular subject or something. That’s the way I justified it, that I was giving them encouragement and explaining how to do something. But again, I can’t really say … Well, in order to justify it I had to feel that I was doing him a service in some way, it kind of made it right for me at the time.

7.443Br Dennis was never challenged or confronted about his behaviour in Artane, and he went on to abuse in the next school he was posted to. There, a boy complained to the authorities in the mid-1980s that he had touched him inappropriately. Br Dennis stated:

[The boy] had a pain in his stomach on a particular day and I massaged his stomach. He claims, and he could well be right, that while I was massaging his stomach my elbow was touching his penis at the same time … I was investigated by the Garda … I was fairly sure at the time that I had done nothing inappropriate, but it was investigated by a Garda … I was told that I had no case to answer … For that reason I continued on in the school.

7.444He continued teaching after that investigation until the early 1990s, when a former pupil of Artane made an allegation about sexual abuse. Br Dennis said that he had stopped his misbehaviour after the previous investigation and had not interfered with any boys in his latest teaching post. However, he was removed once the Artane allegation came to the attention of the authorities in the Congregation:

Once our headquarters got to hear of that they said that once, it could have been all right once perhaps, the first allegation, but when a second allegation came they decided that they would have to take action. So I was taken out of teaching at that stage.

7.445Br Dennis confirmed to the Committee that he had continued his activities, in the same pattern which did not change, from his first posting to Artane in the late 1960s until he was reported some 20 years later. Speaking about the investigation that occurred following the 1980s allegation, he said:

The parents of the boy came and accused me of behaving badly with the son and that he was going to go further with it. So the next thing a Garda came up to the school and our own headquarters had been notified at that stage and I … was summoned to headquarters anyway. I was asked various questions. At the time I denied everything to them because I had more or less convinced myself that these things hadn’t happened … Yeah, but the fact that the Garda could find no substance either, that was the main reason why I was left[in the school] at that time.

7.446Br Dennis continued teaching in the School for a further five years, after which he was transferred as teaching Principal to another Christian Brothers’ school in the west of Ireland. After about six months there, he received a phone call from an individual who claimed to have been abused by him and demanded money. The Brother met this individual and another man, and gave them some £800. However, the allegation was brought to the attention of the Superior by the individual or someone on his behalf:

The Brother Superior at the time, he rang headquarters and I was summoned to headquarters the following day and when I went there they said that … the fact that it was a second time they said that it called for more serious action. I was asked to take sick leave because, I mean I was very traumatised at the time anyway. So I went back and met the Board of Management, this is some time later now. I went off on sick leave for a period.

7.447Br Dennis said that the Provincialate did not know at that stage that he had paid money, and they asked him if the allegations were true:

They did and again I more or less denied them. This time they decided, the fact that it was a completely different case, that there was a danger that there was some grounds for the allegations.

7.448Br Dennis’s ‘more or less’ denial obviously rang alarm bells:

A short time after that they advised me to go for professional help, so I went to the St John of God, Granada Institute … I was going there for a period of time and it took quite a while for me to admit, even to myself, that what I had done was wrong. As part of the therapy there I began to come to terms with it more and eventually was able to make a clean statement to them. I spent quite a long time there, in individual treatment and in group therapy … At first I found it very difficult, but with time I began to open up more to the group because I saw that they were able to be open, and I kind of felt that I was lagging behind. So eventually, something happened anyway and there was a kind of breakthrough for me that I was able to admit it. From that period on I seemed to come to terms with the whole situation and to realise – well, I probably realised – I did realise before, the gravity of the situation I suppose, but it really only came home to me because as part of the therapy we were getting reports from people who had been sexually abused and it began to come home to me then the enormity of the thing.

7.449He did not admit his abusive activities all at once:

In dribs and drabs at the start. I think it was actually the Artane investigation that – I was called to Clontarf, I think that was the deciding factor that really opened me up to the whole – I was able to – I got great support from the group at that time and I decided that I had to put all my faith in the group. Before that I was very hesitant, because I am by nature shy and not having much confidence in myself, but when I saw how much support I was getting from them it made me open up completely to the group and to the therapists.

7.450It was a long process:

Well, I still spent a lot of time in Granada to fully come to terms with it. Some of the group there, they would suggest that they felt that they were ready for the world again but I was very slow to suggest that, I kind of waited until I was told by the therapists in Granada that as far as they were concerned I was in a position to leave therapy, but that I should have no contact with, no direct contact with children, as far as was possible.

7.451Br Dennis said that, prior to his actions in Artane, he had not felt drawn to young boys. While he eventually admitted he had acted for sexual gratification, he had begun by deceiving himself that he was comforting the boy. He said that he found it very difficult to pinpoint any one thing that started it for him:

Well, I suppose, I was under pressure. Under pressure, having very little free time, I suppose, in Artane … I was young and I didn’t seem to feel that pressure, but it probably was there in spite of me, I don’t know.

7.452He went on to say that he was sexually naïve and shy, and he tended to select boys who were weaker and needed more help: ‘Maybe I was looking for a shy boy trying to give them confidence. That might be my justification, I couldn’t really say’.

7.453Part of his therapy in the Granada Institute was to accept responsibility for what he had done, which also involved telling his Superiors the whole story:

I told them eventually, yes, but it took some time for that to happen as well … Well, they were invited to – they would have meetings over in Granada with the therapists and the Leadership Team and myself. The first session yielded nothing at all, but after about four months I suppose, I gradually began to open up to the Leadership Team, as well as to the group members.

7.454Br Dennis said that he had lied, when he was first accused, out of fear: ‘I don’t know what kind of fear it was, but it was out of some kind of fear and a sense of shame; that I didn’t want to reveal that I was a failure or something like that’.

7.455He said that, in the Granada Institute, he had also come to an awareness of the impact of the abuse on the boys:

Probably the effects that it had on them in later life, where it could have led to marriage break-up and to suicidal tendencies. That their whole life really was all messed up … It was traumatic for me, but even though I didn’t look on it in that way, at that time I was thinking more of the victims at that particular time. But it was very traumatic for me as well. I found it very hard. There was one – I was advised to have at least one Brother that I could talk to, so I chose a Brother that I could talk to about all my misgivings and upset, and I found that that was a help to me all right, that that helped me greatly.

7.456The Christian Brothers’ statement responding to the complainant who made allegations to the Investigation Committee stated that the allegations were not in keeping with the character of the Brother. The complainant’s allegations were expressly not admitted. The statement did not say that Br Dennis had been sent to the Granada Institute by the Congregational Superiors in the mid-1990s in respect of his activities in Artane.

7.457Br Dennis filed two separate statements of response to the complainant’s allegations. The first was a long statement that dealt in detail with the complainant’s allegations, which were denied in full. It commenced by stating that he did not remember him or the incidents that were alleged to have occurred and ‘that the Complainant is both inaccurate and mistaken in much of his recollection’. It did not make any admission and, in the final paragraph, he said ‘I deny any allegations of abuse made against me contained in [the complainant’s] statement which is not directly or indirectly denied or referred to in this response statement’. He did not refer to the admissions that were made to the Gardaí, or to the fact that he had been sent by the Superiors of the Congregation to the Granada Institute in the mid-1990s in respect of his activity in Artane.

7.458His second statement to the Commission was dated a few weeks after the first statement and was the standard denial of abuse, with a legalistic paragraph which stated that he was required to prove a negative in respect of events alleged to have occurred on unspecified dates over 30 years ago.

7.459The significance of the approach taken by the Congregation and by Br Dennis is twofold:

  • The Congregational response in this instance did not tell the whole story. It was seriously misleading because it did not reflect the Congregation’s actual knowledge of Br Dennis: the Superiors in the Congregation sent him to the Granada Institute in 1996 because of allegations from Artane. It is inconceivable that they did not also know about the previous allegations. In the course of his treatment in Granada, Br Dennis had meetings with the leadership team of the Christian Brothers and his therapists, at which he eventually opened up about his abuse. None of this is reflected in the Congregational response in which they attested to his good character.
  • Br Dennis’s statements of response to the Commission cannot be trusted on face value. They contain assertions that he knew to be untrue and which contradicted the import of his earlier statement to the Gardaí and the Granada Institute.

7.460The complainant confined his allegations of sexual abuse to two Brothers and spoke positively about others.

7.461This complainant’s allegations are, at least in part, confirmed by Br Dennis’s admissions to the Gardaí. The Investigation Committee had the benefit of being able to hear the Brother’s evidence at an oral hearing but, at the time when the complaint was heard, Br Dennis had not yet given evidence and the complainant was subjected to a rigorous cross-examination by the Christian Brothers, without any reference to the information they had. If Br Dennis had not been able to attend and give evidence, valuable information would have been lost to the Inquiry.

Br Etienne72

7.462A complainant resident in Artane during the late 1960s alleged sexual abuse by Br Etienne, which he said took place in the classroom and in the attic. He described an occasion when Br Etienne told him to stay behind in the classroom when the other boys left to go to the yard. The Brother closed the door and locked it. He went on to describe what happened:

An item of furniture, to me it was either a cupboard with books or a piano or some sort of wooden structure was pulled from the wall, Br Etienne started kissing the back of my neck and …

My memories are just, well being put down, lying on my stomach; Br Etienne lying on top of me with my face sideways, kissing my neck, kissing the side of my face. I remember pain in my buttocks area, it was the pain of, like, somebody trying to enter. It ended with hot splashes on my back area, my bottom area. Then I was allowed to join the other boys in the yard.

7.463The witness went on to say that his trousers were pulled down and his shirt lifted during this encounter. He said that Br Etienne was dressed in the usual long cassock and cummerbund and that, during the assault, he had his cassock open and his trousers down. He said that this happened a number of times in the classroom.

7.464The complainant said that the sexual abuse also occurred in the attic of Artane:

I remember being led up a stairs, it seemed to me an isolated stairs but as part of the building, the school area and the dorm area. I remember gas masks around and the attic was to me, enormous, it just seemed to go on forever. I remember a mattress and it was the same routine, but this time on a mattress.

7.465The complainant said that this had occurred on more than one occasion. As to other memories of Br Etienne, he said:

he was kind, I don’t ever remember being hit by him in class or anything like that … He was my teacher. I don’t ever remember being actually physically smacked by him.

7.466The witness remembered Br Etienne making contact with him when he was leaving Artane at nine years of age:

I remember there was ten boys, about ten, could be more could be less, waiting in a waiting room for a minibus that was going to take us to [another Industrial School]. I remember him being sat in the waiting room and I remember him giving me a white prayer book which I took at the time, but eventually found out that on the inside it said ‘always keep our secret’.

7.467When asked if he had any further contact with the Brother he said:

I believe I had a letter from him about a year after or maybe even less, after I was in [Industrial School to which transferred], which asked me how I was getting on. The letter was actually read to me by one of the nuns, asking me how I was getting on, hope the nuns were looking after me and a p.s. again saying, ‘always keep our secret’.

7.468The statement of the Congregation and a statement delivered by Br Etienne to the Investigation Committee denied that the complainant had been abused.

7.469In a letter to Br Gibson dated October 2003, Br Etienne admitted to certain acts of sexual abuse of the complainant but denied that this happened in the classroom or in the attic. The admission by Br Etienne was sent to Br Gibson in the context of the complainant’s application to the Residential Institutions Redress Board. It was forwarded to the Commission by Br Gibson when he received it.

7.470The letter stated:

I can verify that he was sexually abused by me in Artane in the sixties. I also wish to state categorically that he is lying when he describes how he was abused. What he accuses me of never happened either in the classroom or in the attic nor anywhere else in the school. I never had a key to the attic and never attempted to bugger him.

7.471The Brother gave no further information and, although he denied the details of the abuse as outlined by the complainant, he did not give details about the sexual abuse he was admitting to or how it had occurred.

7.472Counsel for the Christian Brothers said that the Congregation did not consider it appropriate to test the credibility of a complainant in circumstances where the fact of abuse had been admitted. The Investigation Committee noted that the Christian Brothers made a statement some months before Br Etienne’s letter, saying:

The Complainant makes allegations of abuse of a sexual nature on a number of occasions against [Br Etienne] … For my own part I find the allegations difficult to accept. In particular where the Complainant alleges that on one occasion the abuse allegedly occurred in a classroom. The classrooms were very public places and I cannot accept that abuse of this nature was conducted in such a location.

7.473This case again raises the issue of the value to the Inquiry of denials by the Congregation in circumstances where it did not make any proper enquiries of the alleged perpetrator. The Congregation’s position was unchanged until the hearing. In the subsequent submission prepared by the Congregation in response to the oral hearings, this case is included in the category of cases not specifically dealt with by the submission:

The Congregation’s decision not to refer specifically to such allegations is not to be taken as an admission on its part that such allegations are true or accurate.

7.474Counsel reiterated that a decision was made by the Congregation to send Brothers accused of criminal offences to their own solicitors to be separately represented, that the Congregation did not question these Brothers in relation to the allegations, and that they did not have access to Br Etienne’s statement as prepared through his own solicitors, when the Congregational statement was being prepared. It was a policy decision to have a dividing line in respect of those Brothers who were subject to the possibility of criminal prosecution.

7.475Counsel for the complainant submitted that the approach taken by the Christian Brothers was unhelpful:

it seems to have been a case where the approach adopted is: “Prove it. We are not going to go and ask the people who were there what it was like and try and put together our picture of it. We will deny everything; you prove it and we will cross-examine everybody on the minutiae of everything”.

7.476In the circumstances that arose in this and the previous case, the Congregation found itself in an embarrassing position when its rejection of allegations was contradicted by admissions of abuse. This arose because of the view that allegations of abuse against individual Brothers impacted adversely on the Congregation’s charism and that it was therefore appropriate to adopt a position on specific factual issues independent of that of the Brother.

7.477A policy of keeping the individual accused Brother at arm’s length, while at the same time filing a statement of denial in respect of allegations against him, was bound to lead to confusion, misunderstanding and embarrassment for the Congregation, particularly as amending statements were not furnished when new information came to light. Furthermore, the complainant was given the impression that the Congregation would challenge his evidence and he was caused unnecessary anxiety in this regard.

Three cases involving laymen

7.478Two complainants gave evidence of sexual abuse by laymen who were not staff members of Artane. The incidents were not disputed by the Congregation and were used in their Phase III Submissions to illustrate the willingness of the Congregation to deal with issues of sexual abuse.

7.479The first incident happened in the 1960s and involved a man who was himself a former resident of Artane. He approached the complainant returning from Croke Park and offered him a cigarette. They were sitting on the grass chatting when the man put his hand up the boy’s shorts. The man said to him: ‘do you want me to tell the Brother you were smoking or are you going to let me play with you?’ The witness said that he was more frightened of the Brothers than this man, so he let him touch him. In the end, he remembers jumping up and running the rest of the way back to the School, crying. When asked why he was crying by the Brother on yard duty, he said that his team had lost the match.

7.480The next Sunday, a Brother told the boy that a visitor wanted to take him out for the day but, when the boy saw that it was the same man, he refused to go. The Brother called him into his office and asked him why he didn’t want to go. The complainant said he broke down and told the Brother everything. ‘Before I was finished the conversation, the police were outside and took the man away’.

7.481In their responding statement, the Christian Brothers refer to this incident briefly:

The Complainant refers to an incident of abuse by a former resident whilst he was returning from a trip to Croke Park … I cannot comment on the allegation of sexual abuse committed by the outsider other than to say that boys were closely supervised at all times to try to ensure that something like this did not happen. It is noteworthy that the Complainant was in a position to complain about the alleged abuse by the former resident and that the authorities in Artane took appropriate action.

7.482At the Phase III hearing, the implications of this case were discussed with reference to the point that this lay person had been handed over to the Gardaí, whereas the same had not occurred with offending Brothers. It emerged then for the first time that there appeared to be some dispute as to the circumstances of the case, in that Br Reynolds, the Christian Brothers’ spokesman, suggested that the case was not reported as an instance of sexual abuse but rather as one of absconding, and that it involved two boys who failed to return from a trip to Croke Park and were seen going into the man’s house. He said that it subsequently emerged that they had been sexually abused. Such an alternative case does not appear to be based on any evidence available to the Committee, and so it is treated as an accepted instance of sexual abuse known to the Artane authorities. In those circumstances, the difference in the handling of this complaint against a layman as compared with offending Brothers is indeed striking.

7.483This point was made even more clearly in the following case, which was raised at an oral hearing of the Investigation Committee. In this second case of abuse by a layman, another complainant described an incident with a man who was a friend of the Brothers, and he took the witness and two other boys on a weekend trip to Northern Ireland. They all slept in the same room, which had four beds. When they were in bed, the boys would not stop giggling and the man ordered the witness to get into his (the man’s) bed. The man ‘started to rub me and put his hand on my genitals. He got me to put my hand on his genitals and I was feeling really scared, I didn’t know what to do’. He did not know whether the other two boys could see what was going on but he presumed they could. He said that he masturbated the man and that he felt disgusted afterwards. The following morning he had a shower and recalled trying to ‘scrub the skin off my body’.

7.484When the complainant got back to Artane, he told his older brother who was also a pupil there what had happened. He thinks that his brother said it to someone else, because he was brought in front of a senior Brother in the School. He recalled two men coming in to the Brother’s office and was told they were Gardaí. He told the full story of the abuse he had experienced to the Gardaí.

7.485When he left the office and was making his way over to the dormitory, he got ‘an awful hiding’. He said that this beating was administered by another Brother who had been present during his interview with the Gardaí. He never saw the man around Artane after that.

7.486In their response, the Congregation confirmed that a lay person who had been accused by some boys of sexual abuse was told to stay away from the School and the matter was reported to the Gardaí. The statement went on to say:

However, this incident does demonstrate that the Congregation took any complaints of sexual abuse very seriously indeed, reported them to the Gardaí and took all necessary steps to prevent the alleged perpetrator from having any contact with the boys in the future.

7.487Two Christian Brothers recalled this incident, one of whom said that it had been his idea to allow the man into the School. He said that the man had offered to help out by driving the boys on outings. He admitted that it was a bad decision on his part to allow this. He believed that the Resident Manager had called in the Gardaí when the allegation was reported to him.

7.488One of the Brothers remembered another incident. He said that two boys came to him to talk it over when the matter was being investigated by the Gardaí. The older boy came to him first, and told him that he was one of the boys who had been abused by the man. He then told him that he himself was abusing the younger boys but that had now stopped. The Brother told the Investigation Committee that this came as a big shock to him, as he had thought him to be a very decent boy. He said that that was the only incident he encountered in Artane of boys abusing other boys. He did not believe the boy was making a complaint as such. He believed that he just wanted to talk to somebody about it. The Brother did not do anything further in the matter and did not think that the boy should be punished.

7.489This Brother recalled a further incident, where he believed a man was behaving inappropriately with the boys. He said that this particular man used to visit the School and talk with the boys. He had the nickname of ‘Dirty Hairy Sixpence’. He would put a sixpence into his trousers pocket and invite the boys to retrieve it, which involved them in inappropriate touching of the man. The Brother said that he had received no complaints about this man during his time in Artane, and that it was only now, because of an allegation in which another Brother was referred to as ‘Sixpence’, that he realised what the man had been doing.

7.490This Brother confirmed that ‘Sixpence’ used to come freely into the School and talk with the boys. When asked whether this was a regular occurrence, he said that ‘Well, he did’. When asked whether it struck him as odd that a man could be allowed to enter the School freely, he said, ‘No, it never crossed my mind it just—no, I didn’t no’.

7.491At the Phase III hearings, Br Reynolds was not able to explain why the Gardaí had been called in the case of a layman, but had not been called in relation to sexual abuse by Brothers. He said that the reluctance to involve the Gardaí was ‘common practice right across society’.

7.492These cases undermine the position adopted by the Congregation in relation to sexual abuse, namely that it was seen as a moral failing rather than criminal behaviour on the part of the Brother and was dealt with as such. No ambiguity existed in the case of lay offenders. To assert, as the Congregation has done, that it was ignorant of the full implications of sexual abuse of children is not consistent with its response to these lay offenders. The Congregation was aware of the criminal nature of this conduct and took swift and effective action, which makes its failure to do so in the case of its own brethren all the more difficult to excuse.

Other complainant evidence

7.493This part deals with evidence of complainant witnesses that has not been cited in the examination of documented and confirmed cases. It includes extra information from witnesses who were cited above and data from witnesses not previously discussed. This material is uncorroborated evidence from credible and reliable witnesses.

7.494Complainants described the different kinds of abuse that they experienced.

7.495One witness recalled how he was warned to avoid certain Brothers when he first went to Artane:

There was always talk amongst the boys who to keep away from. When I went in there first, being naïve you don’t know anybody and you have boys coming to you and telling you “you watch Brother so and so, and watch Brother so and so. Don’t let him come near you or don’t let him get you into a place on your own”, things like that, like. But it only happened to me by one particular Brother, where sexual abuse took place, the rest was physical and mental abuse.

7.496Another witness described how abuse by Br Bruce73 became progressively more severe, culminating in an attempt to commit anal rape. The witness was detained in Artane during the 1940s:

… at first it was just, he used to just take me trousers down and just stand there and make me masturbate him and things like that. But then it got a bit deeper and deeper where he would ask me to do things, which I couldn’t understand at the time. But like, he would ask me to – oral sex and things like that. Then he started bringing me, just, it is only 50 yards down into the shower rooms and in there he would bring me down, usually down the left-hand side into one of the curtain rooms at the bottom there and then on a couple of occasion he actually tried to rape me, but he never did succeed. He used to be very upset himself even afterwards, you know, what he was doing.

7.497A witness from the 1940s described how Br Armande progressed from talking about sex to physical contact and then to masturbation:

He liked to talk dirty … So over a period of time he used to ask me “have you ever popped or ejaculated”’ and things like that. No, “I can’t”. I knew other boys could. I forget how the conversation – but the subject of circumcising came up and he said “probably that’s your problem. I will show you some time”. Over a period of time – he would press into you, he invariably wore a cloak so anybody looking from the sides couldn’t see what was going on.

One incident, as I say, in the theatre, when we used to file in the theatre, at the end of every, maybe, third row was left vacant so that a Brother would sit there presumably to keep an eye on us. I happened to be in this seat and Br Armande – the seat was vacant, so I didn’t know what Brother it was going to be. I think he was either a projectionist or assisting the projectionist. Once the film started he came and sat beside me. I always remember he gave me a sweet and he started touching and petting and one thing and the other. I got to admit I was aroused. He kind of got my hand and done the same, messing.

7.498The same witness described another occasion when sexual activity was aborted because of the arrival of another person in the dormitory:

The other incident with Br Armande was the morning I was expelled from the band … I was expelled from the band and I was told to report to the dormitory. He told me to go over to the far corner of the dormitory where the Brother’s sleeping room was. He said “lie on the bed there and take your trousers down”. He disappeared and went off down to the long hall, I suppose, to check. There I was in the bed waiting for him to come. I got to admit I was quite excited about it because I had never ejaculated and he was going to show me … I was just coming up to 16, 15 and a half. I had heard other boys saying they had. Whatever happened, somebody must have came. The next thing I knew the door was open and he hollered “anybody in here, get out now”. I jumped up, put on my trousers, ran down and joined everybody else at the parade. That was the incident.

7.499This witness described how a sympathetic approach by the Manager led to his divulging information about abuse:

He put a friendly arm around me, drew me close to him and he said, “Tell me, what’s troubling you?” I started to cry and I blurted out all the things that happened to me and why I hated God, I hated my own parents for being weak and dying, I hated religion. “Tell me”.. So I told him about what Olivier had done and I told him about Br Armande . I told him the specific incident, general as well, but mainly what Br Olivier had done to me. I told him about the Br Armande. I would never have had the courage to go and complain to anybody because I would be terrified I would get another hiding, they wouldn’t believe me. On that occasion he was so kind that he got my confidence, he spoke to me like a father. I blurted out and told him everything.

7.500The witness described another experience that was commonly mentioned by former residents of boys’ industrial schools. When boys were in bed, Brothers sometimes went through the dormitories checking to see whether boys had wet their beds. That was the ostensible reason why Brothers put their hands under the bedclothes but there was unease among boys at the time.

7.501A number of complainants spoke of the requirement to sleep with their arms crossed and above the blanket, which was a rule of the Congregation. Some supervising Brothers were more diligent about enforcing this rule than others, but the object was to ensure that boys were not committing ‘badness’ during the night. One Christian Brother confirmed that he enforced the rule of sleeping with arms above the blankets but claimed that he did not know why he was doing so. He stated that he was not aware that it had any purpose of preventing self-abuse by boys.

7.502A complainant described getting a slap on his private parts by the Brother in charge when he was not lying in the correct position.

7.503Another described how Br Gaspard questioned him about where his hands were:

He pulled the covers down slightly and got my hands like that (indicating). That is how they told us to fall asleep in bed. Then he got down on one knee, might have been two knees, and just slid his hand across my lower abdomen. Didn’t touch anything, just straight across. That was it … There was something odd about it, obviously. It wasn’t the sort of thing you done. It’s always sort of remained with me.

7.504A complainant resident in the 1950s alleged that, when supervising the showers, Br Verrill used to require the boys to bend over, to make sure that they were clean. He said that, on a few occasions while doing this, he used to put his hands on the boys’ testicles and say ‘did you like that?’. The complainant said that he got so used to being humiliated that he accepted it and did not regard it as unusual at the time.

Sexualised relationships

7.505Relationships between Brothers and boys were unlikely to be the subject of complaint in the same way as violent or forced incidents of abuse.

7.506One witness who was in Artane in the 1940s described a sexual relationship with a Brother that he said was different from what happened with other Brothers. This relationship was a sexual affair with affection and reciprocity. It is scarcely necessary to add that it was a case of serious sexual abuse:

… I had sexual relations with him. That is the way I look at it. I will say the others abused me, but with him I would be kinder with the words because the man did look after he me, but I did do things with him that today people would stand up and scream about. But he was kind. He was probably the only person in my life up to that time. Probably the only person in my life up to that time that would give me a hug, look after me. Anyone, nobody could get to me. You know, he kept the others away. Monitors never reported me because they knew I would report them. Simple. He looked after me, I looked after him. As simple as that … sexual abuse did take place. But at that time that was mine, I now know that it was wrong. But at the time, if he had asked me to eat his head, I would have eaten his head, as simple as that.

7.507When it was suggested to him that this relationship appeared to form a large part of his memories of Artane, he replied:

It does, actually, because as I said, he was probably was the one person I loved at that point. I did love the man, you know. I know he done that, but I loved him. I have very fond memories of the man. But now I am 68.

7.508In contrast, he named four other Brothers as having been sexually abusive of him. This complainant said that, at the same time that he was being sexually abused, the Brothers were emphasising the evils of sex:

They screamed about the dangers of badness and yet they were practising it on us.

7.509Another complainant spoke about a lay teacher’s behaviour that he saw as coming into a different category from other sexual experiences in Artane:

He used have his cloth over him and he kind of took my hand and placed it on top with the cloth covering it in case anybody came in. I touched him like that … He carried on … and then sent me back to my place. That’s all [he] ever done, he was a fondler more than anything. He didn’t ask you to undress or anything like that.

7.510He confirmed the statement that he had made to the Commission:

All boys liked [him] because he was a gentle kind of man.

7.511He said that the teacher looked after the boys and that they put up with him for that reason. He said:

We weren’t idiots. Boys at that age were aware, I was anyway, that some of the teachers and some people were like that.

7.512He continued:

he was good to us … He wasn’t cruel like some of the Brothers. I personally found him very nice and also he always brought a newspaper in every morning. When he was finished the lads would get it. Some of us were avid readers. In that way he was a man’s man, if you like. I know he was a groper but he was a decent man in every other way.

7.513A number of witnesses, who did not themselves claim to have been sexually abused, stated that they believed that other boys were sexually abused in Artane. Almost all of these witnesses acknowledged that they had not actually seen sexual activity taking place, so their evidence and recollections were based on mixtures of surmise, hearsay and deduction. One witness explained:

The way I reckoned it was that when I was being abused, I know other boys were going through the same doors, going through the same classroom doors, going the long hall … I saw them. I saw boys going through the doors … I mean down to classrooms. I saw them going into classrooms when they shouldn’t have been in the classrooms.

7.514He added:

The reason why I think it odd was because the classrooms, any time I ever went into one when I shouldn’t have been there, it was for that reason. That is the only places they could take you. So I reckoned that if it was happening to me in there and Brothers were taking them in there, that it was happening to them. I had seen many Brothers go in there with children, and then I would hear children crying when I was in the dormitories. I knew what they were crying for, because I had done a bit of it myself. I knew boys, that when I was keeping – watching Brothers on the Parade, and I was hiding from them and seeing them hiding from them, I knew what they were hiding from.

7.515Other witnesses testified that they had seen boys going into Brothers’ rooms at night in the period after bedtime and before the night watchman came on duty.

Respondents’ awareness of sexual activity in Artane

7.516Respondent witnesses gave evidence as to their awareness of sexual activity in Artane. Four Brothers testified that, during their training for the Christian Brothers, they had been instructed about the possibility of inappropriate sexual activity between Brothers and boys.

7.517Br Saber stated that:

I would say the best instruction we ever got was before we left the training college. Before we left the training college, we got a talk from our Superior on sexual abuse, right. The attraction of a kid – of a Brother to a young fellow, right. He would be very clear and very specific minded, be careful of it, avoid it … Some other Brothers would say to me that it didn’t mean much to them because they never encountered it. Right? It did, it meant something to me, I can honestly say that. To most people it did. There was an outbreak in Artane previously seemingly of some Brothers being accused.

7.518Br Gaspard stated that there was a general rule that Brothers should not be alone with boys. One of the reasons for this rule was that it provided a defence for Brothers if accused of abuse. However, he stated that this rule was not rigidly enforced. He informed the Committee that he was always conscious of the rule:

I mean that I went out of my way to make sure that I never gave any, never did anything that would be sexually incorrect in my dealings with the boys in Artane.

7.519The third and fourth Brothers were less forthcoming. One acknowledged that Brothers were given specific instructions about sexual abuse, but that it was not a priority. He said he remembered it being discussed but it was not an issue.

7.520The four Brothers testified to having heard rumours of colleagues being asked to leave because of sexual abuse in the School. Br Michel described the rumours as follows:

There was a rumour as regards sexual matters, that some years previous to our time, there were one or two men dismissed from the Congregation. Now I didn’t know them. I cannot even name them because it was so long ago, but that rumour was about, that a few men were in trouble with boys and they were actually dismissed.

7.521Br Gaspard stated:

The rumours were about … there were a few Brothers who sexually abused boys and they were dismissed from the Congregation because of that.

Sexual activity between boys

A documented case

7.522A case in the early 1960s, that is documented in the records of the Department of Education, illustrated knowledge by the management of Artane about sexual activity among boys.

7.523A former Artane boy, who was still under the supervision of the Resident Manager of Artane, was on remand in Marlborough House on a charge of indecent assault of a young girl. He had a frank conversation with the officer in charge about his sexual history and proclivities. He went on to say that he had engaged in sexual activity with three other boys on several occasions during his time in Artane.

7.524The Superintendent notified the authorities in Artane, and the Resident Manager visited Marlborough House with a senior Brother to interview the boy. In a subsequent letter to the Department of Education, the Superintendent reported that the boy ‘admitted what he had done and gave the names of the other boys whom he committed offences with in Artane’.

7.525An internal memorandum in the Department expressed:

very grave concern and particularly so in the case of the underprivileged children who were sent to Artane by the Courts. It is also suggested that Dr McCabe enquire from the Resident Manager whether he has traced the extent of this practice in the school and what are his proposals for dealing with the situation.

7.526The following month, Dr McCabe reported her interview with the Resident Manager of Artane. She first inquired about the boy who had at that stage been dealt with by the District Court, and she went on to ask about the three boys who had been implicated in sexual activity in Artane. She was told that ‘they have now left the school’. Dr McCabe then asked about the extent of the problem and what proposals the Resident Manager had for dealing with it. She noted:

I then inquired about the supervision carried out and as far as is reasonably sensible it appears to be well done – but as the Brother intimated to me when boys are so inclined if opportunity arises and temptation is there it is very difficult to be always on the qui vive. In fact the Superior said that to have a complete supervisory system the Brothers detailed for such work would need to have no other duties but as it is now the Superior is having to teach and perform various tasks. However, he is quite well alive to such moral dangers and as far as it is possible for him will see that strict supervision is enforced. He also reminded me that there are retreats at stated intervals each year and that the Chaplain is very interested in these boys and also the Superior gives a little talk in the Chapel at prayer time.

7.527The proceedings in the District Court were described by the Superintendent of Marlborough House in his letter to the Department:

Rev Brother Leon74 was requested by Dist. Justice Price, B.L. to attend [the] Dist. Court … and the Justice directed him, as being the legal guardian; to have arrangements made to have the boy committed to Grangegorman Mental Hospital, so that he could be subsequently transferred to Portrane Mental Hospital for treatment and the Justice further remanded [the boy] to Marlborough House until … he was to appear at [another] Court …

… the boy again appeared before Dist. Justice Price [at the other] Court. Brother Leon again attended the Court and stated that no arrangements were made to have [the boy] committed to a mental hospital; so the Justice let the boy out on his own bail of £10 and made an Order that he was to be of good behaviour for 12 months; when he was discharged. The mother of the boy was not in Court at any time.

7.528The Resident Manager was inconsistent in what he told the Department of Education.

7.529The Manager first told Dr McCabe that the three boys had left the School. On a visit to the Department, the Resident Manager ‘stated that he did not know the identity of the boys as Bro. Leon who had handled the matter had since died but that he would find out and reply later’. It is not easy to understand how the Manager could have given that information to the Department because he was, after all, present at the interview with the boy in Marlborough House when the names of the boys were given. Furthermore, the manager had previously told Dr McCabe that the three boys had left the Institution, so at that point he must have known the names. Finally, the Manager wrote in response to a formal request sent two months earlier and gave two names, adding that one of them was still in the School and that the other had been discharged the previous year.

7.530In conclusion:

  • The Department expressed concern about the revelation of sexual activity between boys in Artane, and asked Dr McCabe to inquire into the extent of the problem and the proposals for dealing with it. The Manager undertook to do no more than was already in place, which, by his own admission, was inadequate. The Department did not pursue the matter.
  • The Resident Manager was inconsistent in the information he gave to the Department, indicating a lack of respect for the Government officials who raised the matter with him.
  • This case indicated that there was a higher level of sexual activity in Artane than the authorities there were capable of dealing with.
  • It is a matter of concern that no documentation relating to this matter survived in the records furnished by the Christian Brothers.

Another investigation

7.531Br Romain75 spoke about an investigation into sexual activity among boys that occurred during his time in Artane, during the late 1960s. He said that up to a dozen boys, who were all in the same domestic economy class, had complained of being sexually abused by older boys in the School. Br Jeoffroi,76 who was a young Brother in Artane at the time, instituted an investigation. The witness said that ‘everybody knew about it’, when asked whether the pupils and staff generally knew of this investigation. Br Jeoffroi interviewed all the boys but the witness was not in a position to give further information. He did not know if boys had been punished or not – he only remembered the fact of the investigation.

Complainants’ evidence

7.532Sexual activity between boys in Artane appears to have been a common feature during all of the relevant period. Part of this activity consisted of sexual abuse by older boys with younger boys, in this report referred to as ‘peer abuse’. Many complainant witnesses, however, were reluctant to discuss sex between boys generally, and particularly the question of peer abuse. Nevertheless, the Committee was satisfied on sufficient evidence and reasonable inference that both these features of sex between boys were present at all relevant times.

7.533A witness spoke about an unwelcome approach:

I was working in the tinsmiths and this boy attacked me and threw me on the floor and lay on top of me. At the time it was a sex act. I didn’t know it was a sex act at the time. Like I said, I never even saw my aunty’s ankles. Of course I didn’t know that, that’s what it was. That’s what he was doing. It was reported. When Br Cretien asked me, “yes, I was attacked”. He still gave me six, right on the hand, not anywhere else, directly on the hand. He said he had to punish both of us. That boy never came near me again. I believe he was punished again for other acts which he did to other boys.

7.534Another witness explained the reason for fearing becoming known as a sexually active boy:

You know, there was two things that you never did in Artane. One was you never touched another boy in a sexual area. Me personally never did anyway. Another thing is that you never told of it if it ever happened to you because then you’re open, you’re open season then. If you are open season that means the boys get you. So you don’t tell anybody, you keep your mouth shut and that’s it … Nobody, except a priest. I told nobody. I am sure it happened to other boys and they told nobody either because you didn’t tell. You know, I mean, you were a soft touch then.

7.535A further witness was embarrassed about his sexual activity, even though it was by consent:

Well, it is probably a bit embarrassing, but to be honest with you I was actually involved in that myself. It was just sort of playing around basically … No, it wasn’t very frequent but it happened every now and then. But it was very common in Artane, it was very common that boys would be playing around with each other … Most of the time, 99% of the time it would be a case of just two boys messing about.

7.536He went on to comment on the Brothers’ awareness, and on the prevalence of one particular form of common sexual activity:

… you have got to appreciate in places like Artane, well it wasn’t very, very common but quite a lot of times boys would be masturbating each other. If another boy that wasn’t, you know, doing that would find out they would say it was badness.

7.537Another witness recalled an admonitory talk by a Brother:

… and the Brother who was giving the speech, God knows who he was, turned around and says “right, we know what you boys are doing, you have got to stop it”. This Brother in particular said, “We found over 300 children playing with each other”. Now there was only about 450 in the school. We were all standing there listening and that and, I don’t know whether they ever stopped or not.

7.538A witness spoke of the enormous interest of the Brothers in ‘badness’ and the sin of impurity:

Badness was the sin of impurity. They had the sixth commandment. I remember Br Jules used to say there is more people in hell because of the sixth commandment, the sin of impurity. They were absolutely bonkers on this. When we were growing up, young lads, 14, 15, you are getting feelings, you are getting wet dreams and things like that …

As I say, they must have thought that must be one of the reasons of so called badness. It meant boys messing with one another, thought, word or deed or whatever. They regularly wanted to know if you spoke, swore, told bad jokes. They had a mania for this sort of thing.

Congregation’s approach to peer abuse

7.539The Congregation in its Opening Statement said that it was aware of the possibility of sexual abuse among the boys themselves. Precautionary measures were taken to ensure that such abuse did not occur, including careful supervision of the boys at all times but particularly in the dormitories. The Statement referred to a 1946 Visitation Report which expressed concern about the danger of a lack of proper control in the infirmary, on the grounds that failure to ‘exercise proper control over the boys who are confined there when convalescing … may be a source of serious danger to their morals’. The Statement said that, although Brothers who worked in Artane confirmed that such abuse occurred, there was no documentary evidence available to the Congregation concerning individual cases of peer abuse. The only documented case of peer abuse appeared in records disclosed by the Department of Education and Science.

Brothers’ awareness of peer abuse

7.540Brothers testified to their awareness of peer abuse, but their accounts differ as regards its prevalence, the Brothers’ obligation to look out for it, and the punishments meted out.

7.541One Brother, Br Saber, who was in Artane for 10 years in the mid-1940s and 1950s, spoke about his awareness of sexual abuse both involving boys with boys and Brothers with boys. However, he stated that there was no sexual activity during his time in the School, which he attributed to Br Tyce,77 the Resident Manager, and to the sodality.

7.542Br Boyce, who was in the Institution at around the same time, said that he was aware of the possibility of peer abuse, or ‘badness’ as it was known, but that he never came across it, and his knowledge of the subject came not from the Brothers but from overhearing boys’ conversations. He confirmed that he ordered the boys to sleep with their hands crossed, but said that it was nothing to do with masturbation, it was just the custom.

7.543A Brother who was in Artane during the 1950s stated that he never heard of any type of untoward sexual activity, either amongst boys or staff, the possibility of boys masturbating was never mentioned and he never punished for it.

7.544Br Laramie,78 who was also there in the 1950s, stated that he was aware of the term ‘badness’, which was code for sexual activity. He said that the boys and various religious magazines used the term. Although the Brothers were aware of the issue, he could not recall any specific incidents involving boys.

7.545Another Brother who was there throughout the 1950s said that he remembered the term ‘badness’ as referring to peer abuse and that all staff would have been aware of the term. Despite this, he said that he never encountered any incident of badness nor had to punish a boy for it. However, he was contradicted by a colleague who remembered having to punish a boy who had been referred to him by this Brother who insisted that punishment was necessary:

I was in charge and he reported to me that [the boy] was interfering with other boys and he kind of said to me you will have to do something about it. As I understood it then that when some boys were interfering with other boys, they would be punished and one of the punishments they would get would be on the backside with the leather. I wasn’t too keen on doing it, I had a certain reluctance about it. I didn’t do anything for a while. Then Br Gaspard came back to me again and told me that this was going on and that I had to do something about it. I just brought him to the boot room. My memory now, I am working from memory now and it is a long time ago, my memory is that he had his nightshirt on him, he bent down, I gave him three or four smacks of the leather on the – not on the bare backside and he ran out the door and I was glad to see him go.

7.546Despite having to mete out this punishment, his recollection was that sexual activity between boys ‘wasn’t a major crime’, although Brothers were told to be vigilant.

7.547A Brother who was in Artane in the 1950s stated:

We were always being alerted to be on the look out, to be a presence in places where the boys would be, and I think we did that to the best of our ability. But we would be aware that things happened and there were normal healthy young fellas at that time so we tried to be as protective as we could be in that area by being a presence around the place.

We would have been alerted to be on the lookout, to be there, to be careful and to make sure that people are not injured in a situation like that, or that damage is done to them. So, that we would be there as a protection. It would have been—we would be, I suppose, on the alert and keep moving around and wherever.

7.548He said, however, that although the Brothers were aware of it, they would rarely talk about it. He denied that he would have discussed the matter with the boys in order to find out who was abusing whom, on the grounds that it was ‘none of my business’. He stated that if he became aware of an incident ‘I would have to hand that over to somebody at a higher authority level … I would probably go to the Disciplinarian’.

Conclusions on sexual abuse


7.5491.Sexual abuse by Brothers was a chronic problem in Artane. Brothers who served in Artane included firstly those who had previously been guilty of sexual abuse of boys, secondly those whose abuse was discovered while they worked in Artane and, thirdly some who were subsequently revealed to have abused boys. A timeline of the documented and admitted cases of sexual abuse shows that:

(a)For more than half of the 33 years under consideration, there was at least one such abuser working there;

(b)For more than one third of the years there were at least two abusers present;

(c)During one year in the 1940s there were seven such Brothers in Artane at the same time.

2.More abuse occurred than is recorded in documents because of inadequate recording and reporting procedures. In particular:

(a)There was little or no communication on an informal, friendly basis between boys and Brothers including the Superior.

(b)The sodality was a means of informal communication between boys and the Resident Manager that uncovered four sexual abusers in Artane in 1944, but it was discontinued.

(c)Because boys could be punished for complaining about abuse, there was inevitably under-reporting.

(d)In the 1960s, the Resident Manager gave instructions that complaints were to be made directly to him and not to the chaplain, thereby cutting off a channel of information.

(e)One offender, Br Dennis, admitted sexually abusing many boys in Artane, but only one of his victims gave evidence at the Phase II oral hearings.

(f)In other cases of documented abuse, there were no complaints to the Committee.

3.Other causes of under-reporting also operated, including the fact that sexual abuse is difficult for victims to corroborate or verify, the fear of being disbelieved, lack of faith in the investigation process, and feelings of shame and embarrassment.

4.Sexual activity between boys was common, and there was a significant amount of predatory sexual behaviour by bigger boys on smaller, vulnerable ones, but complainants and respondents were guarded in dealing with it.

5.Evidence and inferences in this and other boys’ institutions suggested that some Brothers sought victims among boys they believed were engaged in sexual activity with other boys.


6.Cases and allegations of sexual abuse were not properly investigated; information was not shared in the Congregation; cases were not reported to the Department; and the Gardaí were not informed.

7.The Congregation was aware of the criminal nature of sexual abuse perpetrated by Brothers.

8.The Congregation was also aware of the risk of recidivism in such cases.

9.Sexual abuse by Brothers posed a serious risk of damaging the reputations of the Institution and the Congregation if it became public, and cases were managed primarily with a view to protecting them against that danger. The offender was an incidental beneficiary of this policy.

10.The most common reaction was to move the offending Brother to another Christian Brothers’ institution, without regard to the hazard to boys in the new location and with no evidence that the Superior was alerted. Some Brothers were moved to industrial schools after abusing in day schools.

11.The Christian Brothers have submitted that repeat offenders were dismissed from the Congregation, but this does not appear to have occurred. Even when the Council voted for expulsion, this was often done by inviting the Brother to seek dispensation from his vows, which allowed him to leave the Congregation with no taint or suspicion on his character. The Brother could continue teaching in a lay capacity.

12.Only Brothers of temporary profession were dismissed by being refused permanent status by the Congregation, but these Brothers were also able to move on with their reputations intact.

13.Some Brothers and former Brothers found to have committed sexual abuse were able to continue damaging children for many years because of the policy of concealment of the disclosure of abuse, failure to investigate properly and failure to report.

14.The Congregation claimed in its Opening Statement that the impact of abuse on young boys was not properly understood at the time and that the response to the child was therefore inadequate. The reality is that the needs of abused children were not considered at all. It was not a case of insufficient understanding, but rather of giving priority to other concerns. For a Community of religious in loco parentis, this was a fundamental breach of their duty of care.

Emotional abuse and neglect

7.550Although some Congregations conceded that institutional detention was not an appropriate way to care for children,79 the Submission of the Christian Brothers defended the kind of care they had given. They wrote:

It is clear that the level of poverty in Ireland during the period under review was such that the basic physical needs of many people required for day to day living went unfulfilled … In this context it cannot be surprising that there was a strong focus in Artane on the physical care of the boys … The “philosophy of care” underlying the operation of Artane … can be broadly described as a philosophy of physical care concentrating on the physical well-being of the boys.

7.551The Congregation accepted that a focus on physical care alone was not sufficient to fully and properly care for a child, but contended that it was important to note the general economic and legal context in which the Congregation’s care of the boys was provided. A senior Brother described this approach in his evidence as follows:

the philosophy of Artane when I was there was a physical care philosophy. Look after the health of the boys, look after their physical education, like by drill and so on … it was a physical education philosophy. There was no understanding, and I had no understanding at the time, about any kind of emotional education, psychological education. I had no understanding of that at the time.

7.552The Christian Brothers concluded this section of their Submission by asserting that the totality of the evidence suggests that, especially when viewed in the context of the times, the Congregation fully and properly provided for the physical needs of the boys.

7.553They went on to concede that at times there were shortcomings, such as the condition of the classrooms and toilets that were criticised in the Visitation Reports, but added, ‘these shortcomings were addressed after the criticism’.

Emotional abuse

7.554Extracts from the 1926 Annual Report of the Department of Education, and the Cussen Report in 1936, highlight that there was an awareness of the emotional needs of the child. They warned that a regime based on ‘a hard and fast uniformity’, in which the child loses his sense of individuality through just being one among hundreds of other children, caused permanent damage to the child. The Congregation, on the other hand, claimed that it was not until the early 1960s that the emotional needs of children began to feature in the thinking behind childcare.

7.555The Congregation also contended that the emotional needs of children were not a consideration at the time, either by the Congregation or by the Department of Education. In support of this contention, the Congregation stated that, when the Department carried out a full and thorough inspection in December 1962, it ‘focussed almost entirely on the physical conditions in which the boys lived and on their education’.

7.556Some individual Brothers who gave evidence to the Investigation Committee displayed a greater awareness of the boys’ emotional needs than the Congregation. The Brother who was quoted by the Congregation in their Submission, and who had served a number of years in Artane and had held a senior position in the Institution, told the Investigation Committee:

As a result of what I experienced in Letterfrack80 I came to the conclusion that a lot of these children were disturbed and a lot of these children hadn’t had their basic needs for love, affection … fulfilled …

As regards the Industrial School Branch [of the Department of Education], it is my opinion that when Artane closed in 1969 we were still working out of a physical care philosophy. All the improvements that were done in Artane; central heating was brought in; we got new classrooms; we got new improvements to the cinema; we had the Godparent associations and so on; all these improvements, while they were very welcome … they were still coming out of that physical care philosophy. I went into Artane as a teacher and I think I can honestly say I left it as a teacher.

7.557It was only later, after Artane closed, that he supplemented his training as a teacher by attending, under his own initiative, a childcare course. At one point in his testimony he said:

as I looked back over the years at my time in Artane I became aware that there were times when I punished boys … and might have done better … I looked back at Artane and saw what the system was like … the more knowledge I acquired the more critical I became I suppose of how I saw Artane and what I did.

7.558Some of the other Brothers showed a similar awareness of the emotional needs of the children in their care, and lamented that the system did not address them. One Brother, who was in Artane from the late 1940s to the early 1950s, told the Investigation Committee:

I would say I was lacking in appreciation of … the circumstances in which these chaps found themselves, away from home and that kind of thing … I wouldn’t know who was legitimate or illegitimate or anything of that nature and I tried to treat everyone the same and of course you cannot do that. In that sense I would regret that.

7.559Another Brother, who was in Artane in the 1960s, told the Investigation Committee of an occasion when the degree of deprivation of some of his pupils was brought home to him in a disquieting way. He recounted the following incident:

… I remember teaching a lesson, it was English reading and it was about a family, and I discovered a boy in the class who didn’t understand what the word “mother” meant. “Brother” or “sister”, it meant nothing to him. I was taken aback by that.

7.560Another Brother told the Investigation Committee of one boy in Artane who had taught him a great deal about human nature. He said:

I did learn before I left Artane, if I could tell you a small little story. There was the chap, I can remember his name … he feared neither God nor man. He didn’t give a hoot about anybody. He was a desperado … constantly in trouble … he was the toughest fellow I have ever came across anywhere. Who arrived to see him but his mother. The fella didn’t even know he had a mother. So he was in to meet her … she was all over him … he was due out in three months and he was welcome to come to her and she would look after him … that guy … went back, I couldn’t believe it, he was a model, because for the first time in his life he realised he had a mother, there was somebody. He didn’t care what she was like. And he was complete – a model boy.

7.561These Brothers, even though their training did not include study of the emotional needs of children, were aware that the boys needed more than just food, clothing, accommodation and education, and craved individual attention.

7.562One Brother explained:

sometimes a fellow, you would be nice and a fella would come up to you trying to play up to you and say, “Can I be your chafer?” God love them.

7.563While the boys and Brothers had to keep their distance, it was open to any Brother to rise above these constraints and offer more than just physical care to these boys. From the evidence before the Committee, regrettably few Brothers chose to do this, but those who did were remembered with warmth and gratitude by the ex-residents who attended the oral hearings.

7.564A Brother, who was in Artane from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s, spoke of what he called ‘that softening down … in the whole system’ that occurred during his time in Artane. It became ‘a kinder place to be than the first day I entered it’. He told the Investigation Committee:

But I have to say now, in all sincerity, that in the latter years that I was there, there was a hell of an improvement, both in food, dress, entertainment, mixing with the outside world. Getting parents or getting Godparents for these kids and trying to get them out and breaking the system.

7.565When asked to explain what he meant by ‘breaking the system’, he explained:

You don’t change an environment overnight … It is done over the years. What I am trying to get across is that when these changes did take place … you didn’t wave a magic wand and say, “everything is new, everything is grand”. It took years even when Br Ourson was there.

7.566Some individual Brothers did not recognise Artane’s shortcomings, even when looking back at their time there. One Brother described it as ‘a happy place’. Another Brother said, ‘I was always very happy with the years I spent in Artane. I enjoyed the company of the boys … and enjoyed the fact that you could talk to them …’. Another said, ‘It was a very busy place, and a fairly happy place, there was a lot of exuberance in the yard …’.

Reasons why the emotional needs of children were not met

The problem of numbers

7.567Artane was purpose built for 825 children, and the capitation system meant that keeping the numbers up was an economic necessity. One Brother in his testimony summed it up neatly:

I would say the biggest problem was what can you do to change the life for 800 young fellas? It was entirely too big. Now who was responsible for that? … the more we had the more money we got. But the more we had didn’t necessarily mean that it was a better place for them to be.

7.568Paragraph 72 of the Cussen Report published in 1936 stated:

In our opinion the best results can be obtained only where the number under any one Manager does not exceed 200 pupils. We think that in no case should the number exceed 250. It is necessary in this connection to refer specifically to the case of Artane Industrial School, which is certified for 800 boys and where there are on an average about 700 boys. It is in our view impossible for the Manager in an Institution of this size to bring to bear that personal touch essential to give each child the impression that he is an individual in whose troubles, ambitions, and welfare a lively interest is being taken.

7.569For the sake of ‘the care and after-care of the pupils’, Cussen recommended that Artane should be divided into separate schools of no more than 250 pupils.

7.570In paragraph 80, the Cussen Report commented on the effects of institutional life:

In some schools monotonous marching round a school yard took the place of free play at the time for recreation. Such drill-like exercise, especially if prolonged, becomes a dreary routine deleterious to mind and body, and it should be replaced by free play and organised games that will develop in the child alertness of movement and individual confidence, and thus help to compensate in some measure for the lack of initiative and individuality that are characteristic of children reared in institutions.

7.571Concerned to prevent this institutionalisation, the Cussen Report, in Recommendation 15, advocated that:

Reasonable contact of pupils with the outside world is desirable and should be permitted to a greater extent that is the case at present.

7.572Cussen’s recommendations were not put into effect. Indeed, in the 1940s the numbers in Artane swelled to 844.

7.573Some senior Brothers questioned the regimented lives in Artane. In 1952, the Visitation Report contained the following observations:

The presence of over 700 boys in one establishment with all kinds of social background necessitates a great amount of regimentation and vigilance, and these have been developed in Artane to the n-th degree so that it would be almost impossible to find a loophole in the system. From Rising Bell till “lights out” the boys are regimented under the watchful eyes of Brothers who are experts in their various duties – so that it becomes almost true to say that the boys are never called on to make decisions for themselves even in small details except at one moment in the day – the moment when they must decide to go or not to go to the altar for Communion.

And then one begins to wonder if it can be possible that this system, so perfect in itself, is fundamentally all wrong from top to bottom. Is it achieving the end for which it was evolved, to train the will, memory and understanding of the boys so that when they go out into the world they may be able to take their parts as good citizens and good Catholics? Will young people who know nothing about freedom, since their birth or since their early boyhood, be able to use sensibly the freedom which is theirs when they pass through Artane gates into the wide world? These questions cannot be answered after a period of five days’ residence in Artane. However, more than one experienced Brother in the Community has asked himself similar questions and has not been too happy about the answers.

7.574In the 1956 Visitation Report the Visitor, commenting on the character training of the boys, wrote:

The control of so many boys has led, in the system employed, to over much “shepherding especially from 6.30 till bed time. The separation of Juniors and Seniors would be most desirable. The lack of play-hall space is a crying need. Notwithstanding the devoted care of the Brothers it must be admitted, I think that the Institution is much too large. If it is to continue as an Industrial School its division into Junior and Senior sections would seem to be most desirable.

7.575It was 1960 before the division was finally made, and in the Visitation Report for that year it was noted:

As an aid to discipline in this large Institution the boys have now been divided into two groups – the boys over 14 and those under that age … it was time this move was made. Of course it means doubling the number of Brothers on duty.

7.576The Congregation’s Opening Statement reveals the relationship between boys and staff over the years:

1940s – average number of pupils – 802

1950s – average number of pupils – 620

1960s – average number of pupils – 286.

7.577The staff quotas provided by the Congregation are as follows:

1940–1947 – 16 to 20 Brothers and up to 6 lay staff

1947–1960 – average 14 Brothers

1960–1966 – average 11 Brothers.

7.578The evidence of the Brothers and former Brothers in relation to staff ratios was that a small number, between six and 10 of the younger Brothers, carried the main burden of teaching and supervision of the boys. This led to the situation that Brothers who were directly involved in these duties were over-worked and often stressed. It is not clear why so many Brothers living in Artane were not directly involved with the care of the children.

7.579The Investigation Committee heard evidence from many former pupils and staff from Artane with regard to the size of the Institution. A former pupil, in Artane from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s, described:

The first night, I was put in the ward, I couldn’t believe it. It looked to me huge. All the beds in a line and I was put into this bed and I was crying. I was told to stop crying and I couldn’t. I was smacked [by the Brother who was on at nights] to say if you don’t stop crying you will get another one … I couldn’t sleep … I was woken up and I had wet the bed.

7.580A former Brother described how there was no preparation or training in Marino for dealing with the large numbers in Artane or for the type of boys that were sent there. Artane was run like the Army, everything ran like a clock. The boys marched for breakfast, marched to the dormitories, other than the free play in the playground everything was structured. The size of the School and the numbers during his time (800 boys) did not leave much room for understanding the boys.

7.581Another former Brother who served in Artane in the early 1960s said:

the numbers were very large and you had to have your wits about you to keep an eye on everything, you know, to make sure nobody was in danger. You would want to keep the smaller children away from bigger so they wouldn’t be run down or hurt or anything.

7.582He recalled that, in his time, two Brothers would be keeping an eye on over 400 boys.

7.583Most of the Brothers who appeared before the Investigation Committee complained about the numbers in the School.

7.584One Brother was asked if the system made it difficult to be compassionate with individuals. He replied, ‘I would say so, yes, I would agree. I mean it was numbers, large numbers you were dealing’.

7.585A Brother in Artane in the 1950s, whilst saying that there was a good atmosphere between the 800 boys and the 25 to 30 Brothers, said that it was ‘mass production … It was impossible to do anything worthwhile with them’. He felt that the Brothers on the ground were interested in the children’s welfare and many of the children did well, but it depended more on their background and make-up. When asked why nobody spoke out about the impossibility of looking after 800 boys, he replied:

I was going to use ignorance … It was lack of knowledge or lack of insights by the Brothers ourselves, by headquarters and that. I mean 800 – there were 800 people that weren’t wanted and that nobody else would take them.

7.586A Brother who was there in the late 1950s was angry about the situation:

You had in Artane at that time 600, or whatever, pupils. You had, effectively, 16 or 17 Brothers, the teaching Brothers on the staff, who had to teach them full time … So I would be asking today, ‘Why was it that I was expected to do the impossible in Artane by my country from 1955 to 1959?’ … the system survived because of the dedication of the few. And I suppose we are paying for that today.

7.587He went on to say:

Some of them [the lads] unfortunately who had problems and maybe who should not have been there at all, they should have been in some other institution that could care for such people like that … at that particular time we weren’t as aware … about the importance of having places for people like that who need specific care and specific attention and specific help.

7.588A Brother who served a total of nine years in Artane between the mid-1940s and mid-1950s explained:

… the new kids coming in who would be lost, you know, really some of them were lost really. 825 kids. Divide that by five and that’s 160. 160 kids in a dormitory was very formidable … It was cruel … That was the total responsibility of two really. It was really the two in the dormitory made the kids or developed a kind of relationship with them.

7.589He was still angry at the enormity of it all. He railed against the system that allowed such numbers:

825 kids were imposed on us. No. 1 by the Superior, No.2 by the authorities, by the Archbishop of Dublin, who wanted the kids sent to Artane, not Letterfrack or to Galway because they were too far from home … 825 where the maximum was supposed to be 800 and you had kids on the floor and it was really cruel and unnatural and wrong.

7.590This Brother also saw children who were isolated and lost within the system. He told the Investigation Committee:

I suppose you never knew a kid, like, to talk to him. You would pick out a lonely child … If he hadn’t a friend it would be tough. Really tough. You could see a kid that is lonesome, you would take him in the hand or something. He was the only boy from Gorey. He was the only boy from Wexford …

7.591The Investigation Committee heard the evidence of ‘the only boy from Gorey’. He had been sent to Artane for stealing a purse when he was ten and a half years old. He explained that his family were very poor and his sister had told him to take it. He was sent to the Industrial School for five and a half years in the 1950s. His mother had simply told him he was ‘going away for a few days’. He told the Investigation Committee about his early days in Artane:

I think I was the only one from Gorey … It was very difficult [to make friends] for a long time … I was terrified … there were so many boys … I never saw the likes of it before in my life … The first Brother that ever met me there was Br Bruce the day I went there. I don’t know what it was, from that day onwards we seemed to get on very well together. He was explaining the school to me that night and ever since that we were friends … He was brilliant, yeah. Brilliant. Brilliant … he was exceptionally good to me. For what reason I couldn’t tell you. But I liked him and he liked me … I would be chopping sticks for him and he would bring [extra food] down under his habit.

7.592Apart from this friendly Brother, he lived in ‘a constant state of fear’. Yet this friendship, so valued by the terrified young boy, was in itself problematic for the Christian Brothers.

7.593As well as being an enormous institution, Artane was totally male dominated, and the Investigation Committee heard evidence from a number of Brothers who served in Artane about the lack of women in the Institution.

7.594A Brother who served in Artane in the late 1960s described how the lack of females there at the time left a lot to be desired, ‘The gentle touch of a woman … was missing’.

7.595One Brother who served in Artane from the mid-1940s to mid-1950s recalled that Artane was a totally male dominated place. He particularly remembered a group of boys coming from a convent in Mount Merrion in the 1950s. He described how they arrived in Artane in brand new clothes and were dressed like dolls. He remarked, ‘we could see the female hand all over the place. They never met boys, they never met men. They were thrown into Artane’.

7.596He also felt that the dormitory for the young children should have had a nurse working there full-time to care for the boys. It was not within the power of the younger Brothers to make suggestions such as the need for women in the place. Visitors could be spoken to about some deficiencies, but they were not ‘on the ground’ and could be a bit removed.

7.597Another Brother, who also served in Artane throughout the 1950s, was asked whether the boys craved affection. He replied:

yes, affection and because of the lack of women around to put it baldly. That was kind of a gesture that was made later on towards the end of the 1950s or the beginning of the 1960s to get them foster parents to get them more and more in touch with the outside world and that kind of thing and maybe to improve the feeding or the grub … they were a few extra women brought in in the nursing set up … but still it was Artane.

7.598The arrival of four nuns to work in Artane in 1963 is noted in the Visitation Report for that year:

There are four Sisters in residence in a Convent in conjunction with the Infirmary. They supervise the Infirmary and spend time in the dormitories every day, checking the beds, the boys’ clothes, the wash rooms and so forth. Because of time schedules it is unfortunate that they cannot have much contact with the boys and hence their influence on them cannot be great. The two in the dormitories feel the lack of this opportunity and are hoping that as time goes on they will be able to have more contact with the boys, especially the little ones. The Superior has this matter under observation and consideration and he hopes to be able to provide more contact with the boys for them in time.

Mixing boys with different needs

7.599The Cussen Report had recommended that boys be medically and psychologically examined and assessed for suitability to be sent to an industrial school. That recommendation was not implemented, and the result was that children were ordered to be detained in Artane and other institutions when they were unsuitable and where there were no facilities for dealing with their disabilities. This put extra pressure on the Institution and made life more difficult for the children themselves. Respondent witnesses gave evidence of their awareness of these problems, and the authorities in later years complained to the Department about its failure to identify and differentiate between children who had different needs, and particularly those who suffered from mental or psychological disability.

7.600Mr Dunleavy in his report for the Congregation also identified this problem, which he stated was exacerbated by a reluctance on the part of the Brothers to direct boys to other institutions which were better able to care for them, even when there were places available for that purpose. He quoted the Visitation Report for 1968 as follows:

Some are very retarded … Others are mentally deficient, and in recent years the proportion admitted in this latter class has been on the increase. As such children require very specialised attention it is not easy for an industrial school to adjust its programme to care for them in a satisfactory manner. The policy of the Department in directing these boys to Artane, without consultation, is quite unfortunate.

7.601He acknowledged that there was something of a double standard in the attitude of the Brothers in Artane:

However there does seem to have been a certain reluctance in the school, once children with mental problems had been accepted, to allow them to leave the school for Institutions which might have been better able to care for them.

7.602Even as late as 1969, it could be seen that there was no systematic way of dealing with children who were misplaced in Artane. Mr Dunleavy remarked:

Equally disturbing are a collection of applications from 1969 for boys to be admitted to St. Augustine’s Special School as being mildly mentally handicapped. It transpires that in some cases psychiatric evaluations of the boys determining their handicap had been made up to two years before an application was made on their behalf to St. Augustine’s Special School.

7.603He concluded his review of this feature of the Institution:

It is clear from the above that while a deplorable practice existed of “dumping” mentally and emotionally disturbed children in Artane Industrial School, a school which was certainly not equipped to deal with their special needs, the school itself took no steps to alleviate the situation, and indeed appears to have been slow to recognise that the situation existed in the first place.

The need to keep a distance between the Brothers and the boys

7.604The Christian Brothers prohibited Brothers forming particular friendships, and they had a rule that a Brother should never be alone with a child. These instructions were part of the training each Brother received at Marino. The ban on forming particular friendships was partly to protect the Brothers’ vow of celibacy, but it was also to ensure the Brother would love everyone equally as God’s children. The instruction about never being alone with a child was to protect the Brother from allegations and also from any temptation. With this purpose in mind, these were good rules and were designed to protect all individuals involved.

7.605Generally in families the parent singles out his own child from other children outside the family. In this relationship the child is made to feel special, and needs the affection that flows from this relationship and the sense of being protected by the parent. This bond is the foundation of the child’s self-esteem, and it gives the child confidence to tackle the stresses of life in the outside world. Despite being in loco parentis, the Brothers, with a few exceptions, could not provide this parental relationship because the system did not allow for it.

7.606Quite apart from the fact that the rules of the Congregation made the kind of emotional support the children needed more difficult to deliver, the actual day-to-day interaction was one of fear and distance. This more than anything damaged the development of the children and this was not necessary. Even with the large numbers, Brothers could have behaved in a kind and measured way towards the children, showing them consideration and respect. The absence of this quality of care was the most emotionally abusive element in Artane.

7.607Again and again, complainants told the Investigation Committee that they felt there was nobody they could go to for help or for protection. As shown above, many Brothers spoke of wanting to help a child who looked lost or lonely, but few were able to do so. As a result, many children went through life in Artane feeling ignored, except when being chastised and punished, and feeling nobody cared about them in any way at all. This failure to acknowledge the child, to make the child feel important and loved, left many of them feeling marginalised and rejected.

Climate of fear

7.608The Investigation Committee heard convincing evidence from complainants and Brothers who served in Artane that control of the vast numbers of children was accomplished by means of a strict regime and through a climate of fear. One Brother remarked that even well-behaved boys lived in fear of being punished. Children who were hardened by dysfunctional backgrounds, were placed with orphans and emotionally disturbed children, under the control of young Brothers who received no training other than their teacher training.

7.609In the Visitation Report of 1954, the Visitor gave an example of the level of control that was inherent in Artane:

Br Cretien is chief Disciplinarian. It is gratifying to hear that there is not much necessity for corporal punishment. There was a good test of the spirit of discipline on my second day in Artane. It was Saturday night and the boys were retiring to the dormitories. More than half had got in; many were on the stairs and a number still in the yard when the electric light failed. There was no stampede or sign of confusion. A few candles were lighted and to my surprise I found the boys sitting on or standing beside their beds in absolute silence.

7.610As one Brother who served in Artane in the late 1950s put it:

If we did not have a strict discipline at that stage the place would have gone to rack and ruin and those who would have suffered most would have been the boys … it had to be strict because we had no back up services whatsoever … some of them unfortunately who had problems and maybe who should not have been there at all … the boys who could not understand that there was a certain way of doing a thing and that if they did not do that then it was going to lead to trouble for them, even if they were punished it didn’t register with them.

7.611Later in his evidence, he was asked whether there were boys in Artane who were too emotionally fragile to be there in the first place:

In all probability that would be a way to put it yes. They had come from backgrounds where they didn’t have the normal supports and so on as young people and they were coming in and they find themselves in a large group. Looking back now it must have been an impossible situation for them and knowing what we know now those young people should not have been there. There should have been a place for them but that wasn’t available at that particular time, as far as I know.

7.612As the evidence unfolded before the Investigation Committee, it became clear that Artane did undergo a certain amount of change in the 1960s. Numbers were falling, and two Brothers in particular were singled out by their peers as men of vision who tried to bring innovations into the School for the betterment of the boys. A Godparent association was formed, and boys were placed with families for Christmas, summer holidays, and occasional Sundays. This was seen as a step forward, where boys would be able to live in a normal family situation. Nuns were introduced into the School, and their presence had a calming effect on the boys. A new games room and swimming pool were opened in the mid-1960s.

7.613Although some of the Brothers recognised the need for the boys to be better prepared for the outside world, there does not appear to have been any consistent policy to prepare the boys emotionally and psychologically for their post-Artane days.

7.614The Investigation Committee heard from a number of complainants that they did not have much family contact and that, on occasions, for example on the death of a family member, the situation was not handled in a sensitive manner. There is no evidence, however, that the Institution had a policy of discouraging children from having contact with their families. Boys from Dublin usually went home regularly.

7.615Many witnesses to the Investigation Committee gave instances of acts of kindness, when particular Brothers treated them well. This evidence was often given by way of contrast with other negative experiences in Artane. The complainants named several Brothers as being particularly kind and fair, and these kind members of the Congregation made a positive contribution to the lives of the boys in Artane.

7.616In conclusion:

  • The number of boys in Artane, the extreme regimentation of their lives, the lack of appropriate training of the Brothers, the insufficient numbers of staff, and the pervasiveness of corporal punishment all had serious adverse effects on the welfare and emotional development of many of the children who passed through Artane.
  • A climate of fear in Artane was a dominant memory for many ex-pupils. Practices used for management and control of the boys were frightening and abusive from the child’s point of view. It was a problem central to the whole system in Artane that the boys’ perspective was not taken into account. The Christian Brothers did not understand the impact of those practices.



7.617The topic of finance in Artane and in the other institutions specifically investigated by Mazars is discussed more fully elsewhere in this report, in the context of issues that arise in all institutions. That discussion focuses first on whether the capitation per child was sufficient in institutions generally. It then considers the accounts of four particular institutions including Artane. The reports prepared by Mazars were sent for comment to the relevant Congregations, which responded with submissions that they prepared with the assistance of their own experts, following which Mazars finalised a comprehensive report.

7.618By making comparisons with contemporaneous indices, Mazars established that the grant paid per child in the industrial school system was adequate to provide a reasonable level of care for most of the relevant period. When other factors were taken into account, such as the value of the farm and the profit made from trades, the financial position was even stronger. A significant further factor that applied in Artane was the economies of scale that arose because of the large numbers accommodated there.

7.619Artane was virtually self-sufficient, providing the majority of its needs from its own resources. The Industrial School’s sources of income were: capitation/maintenance grants (84%); income from the farm and trade shops (10%); and the balance from a variety of other sources, including parents’ contributions and receipts from band performances. The Institution was also in receipt of a substantial primary grant for the running of the national school attached to the Industrial School.

7.620In its Opening Statement in relation to Artane, the Congregation contended that:

The level of grant aid was a constant topic of discussion between the Resident Managers Association and the Department of Education, the former continually insisting that the grants paid were seriously inadequate.

7.621The Christian Brothers’ own Resident Managers’ meetings also took the view that funding was inadequate and throughout the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s they used the Resident Managers’ Association in order to express this view to the Department of Education, seeking increases in the grants paid. These requests were often made in years when the financial position in Artane was strong.

7.622The Christian Brothers went on to state that the validity of the claim of gross under-funding made by the Resident Managers is strongly supported by the Kennedy Report, which described the grant aid paid to industrial schools as ‘totally inadequate’. When the Kennedy Report was published in 1970, numbers in industrial schools had fallen so dramatically that funding was at that point inadequate to meet the needs of the many institutions that were struggling to stay open. When the Kennedy Report was published, Artane had already closed down.

7.623For most of the period under consideration, funding in Artane was adequate to provide for the children in its care. The Visitation Reports and the evidence of complainants and respondents indicated, however, that the physical care provided was poor, even by the standards of the time.

7.624Mazars have looked at the accounts for Artane and have identified, as far as possible, how the money was spent. On the expenditure side, the biggest item was salaries and wages of lay staff. In addition, the Institution provided a stipend for almost every Brother in the Community. The level of stipend was decided by the Managers of Christian Brothers’ residential schools and, in Artane, it varied from £120 per Brother per annum in 1940 to £300 per Brother per annum in the 1960s. The amount was uniform, and no account was taken of the extent to which any particular Brother was engaged in the care of the children or the work of the Institution.

7.625The accounts show that the stipends constituted the principal source of income for the Community. They were paid into the ‘House’ account every year for almost every Brother. The account built up a substantial surplus of income over expenditure, and showed a cumulative surplus (excluding land sales) from 1940 to 1969 of approximately £56,000.

7.626In addition to providing the Community with an income, the Industrial School also provided for the day-to-day expenses of the Brothers. In 1966, the Visitor recorded that:

… In addition to supporting the boys the School supports the Brothers to the extent of food, maintenance but not clothing or medical or any luxury items. In addition there is transferred from the School Account to the House Account each year £300 per Brother for extra services, etc …

7.627The Community was also able to invest substantial sums in its Building Fund.

7.628In conclusion:

  • Artane was an important source of support and income to the Congregation.
  • Lack of funds was not a reason for failure to provide for the children in Artane.
  • Artane was a major contributor to the Building Fund and to the support of the Provincial Organisation.
  • The Artane Community charged a full stipend for Brothers who had little or no involvement in the care of the boys and funded the Community’s day-to-day expenses out of the maintenance grant for the children, which enabled the House to run at a profit.

Physical care of the boys in Artane

7.629The Christian Brothers maintained in its Opening Statement to the Artane module that the documentary evidence:

clearly demonstrates that the boys were well fed and clothed and that their welfare needs were catered for … Where criticisms were made or shortcomings were pointed out, remedial action was taken.

7.630The sources of evidence relied on were the Department of Education Inspection Reports and the Visitation Reports from the Congregation.

7.631While Artane was directly responsible for the physical care provided, the Department of Education had supervisory responsibility.

7.632The Department of Education Inspector, who inspected Artane regularly from 1944 until 1962, reported under the headings of: Food, Clothing, Accommodation, Recreational Facilities, and Health and Education. Her General Inspection reports are a source of contemporaneous comment. The reliability and consistency of Dr McCabe’s reports were questionable, and this is discussed in the chapter dealing with the Department of Education.

7.633By and large, Dr McCabe was impressed with the way Artane was run and was not overly critical of the care provided. However, when each individual element of care is analysed, she was often quite critical of the standard provided and, taken as a whole, her reports point to serious deficiencies in the School.

7.634It is useful to look at Dr McCabe’s reports in conjunction with the Visitation Reports compiled by the Congregation’s own Visitor who inspected annually. The Visitor’s prime function was to report on the Brothers in the Community, but they also made observations on the care of the boys and the general standard of the Institution. These reports were more critical of the Institution than those of the Department Inspector, and often highlighted issues that should have come to the attention of the Department Inspector but were not mentioned by her.


7.635Dr McCabe was generally satisfied with the standard of food provided in Artane. In her first report of April 1939, she stated, ‘the quantity, quality and variety of their diet is satisfactory’. Likewise, in 1944 she expressed herself as satisfied that the food was ample and varied.

7.636In 1953, she identified the kitchen and refectory as being in need of modernisation and she continued to be critical of the kitchen and refectory facilities throughout the 1950s. Her categorisation of the food as ‘good’ or ‘v.good’ has to be qualified by the absence of adequate facilities for its preparation.

7.637Visitation Reports from the 1950s did not identify any particular problems with the food or the kitchen facilities until November 1957, when the Visitor wrote:

Everything in connection with the kitchen and the preparation and serving of food calls for complete re-organisation and re-conditioning … Too many boys are at each table though half of the room is vacant almost. All the food for the meal is piled on the table before the meal begins. The boys proceed to make a most awful mess when the meal begins. There is not the slightest attempt to eat in a civilised fashion. The Brother and teacher in charge can do nothing with over 500 to look after. A great deal of the food is wasted and the waste is the main support of nearly forty pigs.

I shall comment later on the condition in which many of the boys come to meals. To me the sight was just revolting. One can just imagine the comments of visitors but every care is taken on the conducted tours to prevent visitors from seeing the spectacle.

7.638The shortcomings in the system were apparent to the management, as evidenced by the special efforts made to ensure that the boys who played in the band were given particular instruction in table manners. The 1957 Visitation Report commented:

They have special table drill in all the niceties of handling sets of knives, forks, spoons, serviettes etc and in how to behave themselves in a decent home. I have reason to know from friends of my own who had some of these lads staying in the house that they made a wonderful impression and have done a tremendous amount to win admirers for Artane and to counteract the smear campaign that would appear to be the settled policy of certain sections of the public Press.

7.639The Visitor went on to describe conditions which would have more than justified a campaign of protest on the part of the press if the full picture of conditions in Artane was made known:

The boys in the full trades and on full farm work deserve special treatment and better meals. These lads really make the running of Artane possible yet in all the apartments devoted to the farm and the trades there is not a single toilet or wash-basin for these boys. They come into their meals in a shocking condition, hands, faces and clothes are covered with the grime of the trades, boots, stockings and portions of the trousers often soaking from working in the cowhouse or the manure pit. These boys remain in this condition all day Winter and Summer, at meals, during afternoon school and in the chapel … No boy could retain his self-respect under the conditions that exist for many of them.

7.640The Visitor blamed Br Gerrard’s ‘slip-shod methods’ for the poor standards in the kitchen and refectory.

7.641A Brother who was there at the time confirmed that the report reflected the conditions he had seen: ‘My own impression was that things were not satisfactory in whatever visits I did make to the refectory … with large numbers … it was difficult’. He pointed out, however, that things improved when a new Brother came and facilities were improved in 1962: ‘There was a tremendous improvement both in the standard of food, the way the food was presented, the menus that were there’.

7.642It is difficult to reconcile that Visitation Report of November 1957 with the one of just seven months earlier, in which the Visitor remarked:

Br Gerrard has charge of the boys kitchen and does his work very efficiently. The food served is good and plentiful and the boys looked healthy and strong.

7.643It is even more difficult to reconcile this Report with the Reports of Dr Anna McCabe. She did not mention any of the matters raised in the late 1957 Report, which would indicate that either she did not actually see the boys in the refectory or she did not see anything remiss in the way meals were served. Either explanation has disturbing implications.

7.644The condition of the boys’ kitchen may be contrasted with the provision made for the kitchen that looked after the 24 Brothers in Artane. The Visitor noted in 1960:

The food supplied to the Brothers is excellent and very well cooked. There is a cook, assistant cook, six boys in training, and a Brother looking after the Brothers’ kitchen.

7.645The boys’ kitchens were renovated and a new Brother put in charge in 1960, and the Visitation Reports noted an immediate improvement, as in 1962 when the Visitor stated:

There is very little trouble on this score and the Brothers think that the improvement in the meals has a lot to do with the easier discipline among the boys.

7.646The Committee heard evidence from a respondent who spent four years in Artane in the mid to late 1950s. He was in charge of supervising meals for a period, a task he carried out with the assistance of a lay staff member. He stated that, despite the large numbers in the School, meals were conducted in a very orderly fashion and the boys were very well behaved. He does not recall mealtimes being particularly difficult, as documented in the Visitation Report of 1957. He stated that meals were not conducted in silence and were quite lively events.

7.647A respondent, who first went to Artane in the mid-1950s and spent almost 15 years there, accepted in his evidence to the Committee that ‘while the food was adequate that, at that particular time, the serving of the food and the way it was presented wasn’t the best’. He acknowledged that this was not satisfactory. In addition, the large number of boys being catered for in the refectory made things more difficult. Things changed dramatically for the better when a new Brother took charge of the kitchen. He changed the way in which food was prepared and presented.

7.648Fr Moore was critical of the food served and the way it was served. In his report of 1962 he stated:

The boys are reasonably well fed. There is fair variety but obvious essential requirements such as butter and fruit are never used … In general I feel that the boys are under-nourished and lacking calcium and other components. At table I have observed the unruly indelicate manners of the boys.

7.649During his inspection in 1966, Dr Lysaght81 commented unfavourably on the lack of variety in the diet of the boys and on the institutional nature of the refectory. The dining room was large, and all of the boys ate together at the same time, which gave:

a feeling of institutional mass feeding and just as the large numbers in each dormitory it tends to hinder or delay development of individuality.

7.650While the meals were ample and well cooked, the weekly menu lacked imagination and variety. With the newly modernised kitchen, there was no excuse and, once again, Dr Lysaght placed his faith in the nuns to turn things around.

7.651Many of the complainants who gave evidence to the Investigation Committee from the 1940s era complained about food. One ex-resident described the diet:

I would sum up my time in Artane as cold, brutal and hungry and the cold was because of the hunger. There was this enduring feeling of cold and this gnawing pangs of hunger. There was never any satisfaction, never any way to relieve the hunger. That was it, hungry, everybody was hungry all the time.

7.652Another complainant, committed in the early 1940s at the age of nine, recalled that his mother often sent him food parcels, but that he only received a parcel once as they were stolen by the other boys. He did not blame them for this, as he stated that they were always hungry, ‘We ate the grass for God’s sake’. He stated that they had a small loaf dipped in fat for breakfast, and vegetables with gravy for dinner. He recounted how one Brother would conceal sticks of bread in his cassock and distribute them to the boys: ‘As soon as he appeared we went around him like a pack of dogs looking for food’.

7.653A witness, committed in the mid-1940s, alleged that the food was diabolical. He stated that, during mealtimes, younger boys were sometimes moved to older boys’ tables on a temporary basis. When this occurred, the younger boys invariably went hungry because they could not get to the food fast enough. He also asserted that, whenever visitors came to the School, the boys got better food.

7.654A further complainant from this era recalled how the boys divided the loaves between them. The first boy would cut himself a big slice, and the second boy would do the same, so that, by the time the last boy came to take his slice, there was little left. The younger boys were often left hungry as a result of the system of distributing food.

7.655On the other hand, a complainant who was committed in the mid-1940s and remained in Artane for six years asserted that he had no complaints to make about food, as ‘the food was better than what I was getting outside’. He described living in abject poverty before being sent to Artane, and his records indicate that he was malnourished and underweight on admission.

7.656While complaints about food feature with decreasing frequency in the 1950s and 1960s, a complainant who was committed to Artane for five years in the early 1950s stated that there was never enough food, and that the boys had to resort to scavenging from the swill buckets to sate their hunger. He singled out one Brother who would slip him extra food. He also alleged that bullying took place during mealtimes, with the result that some boys got less food than others.

7.657A complainant resident in Artane during the 1960s complained that the food was unpalatable. One surmised that the reason the quality of the food was so poor was because the boys cooked it and did not possess the requisite culinary skills. Another complainant from this era recalled that, whenever a Visitation or inspection took place, the quality of the food markedly improved.

7.658A respondent, who was in Artane during the 1940s, stated in evidence to the Committee that he punished boys who took food from other boys at mealtime. He asserted that ‘the majority of the boys always admitted that they were well fed’.

7.659Another respondent, who worked in Artane between 1950 and 1959, gave evidence that ‘the food was always reasonably good, except that it wasn’t very attractive’.

7.660Mr Dunleavy made the following comment about mealtimes:

Apart from assembly and religious services, mealtimes were the only occasions when the whole school was present together. It seems extraordinary then that only one Brother was assigned to supervise the large refectory where up to 800 boys could be eating at once. In the course of being interviewed Brothers who had formerly worked at Artane told of leaving the door behind them open at all times so that they could escape if the situation in the refectory got out of hand. Brothers spoke of the atmosphere being “like a powder keg” and related stories of how Brothers had occasionally been assaulted by boys with knives from the dining tables. At each table of boys a senior boy was placed in charge, and it was his job to distribute the bread and tea to the other boys at the table. It was also his function, should any boy be misbehaving at the table to tell him to leave the table and stand by the wall so that he could be punished by the Brother in charge in due course.

7.661In conclusion:

  • Food from the farm and bread from the bakery made it possible to provide for the needs of the School and the Community at reasonable cost.
  • Mealtimes were not properly supervised, and young or timid boys were bullied and did not get enough to eat. This was a failure of management.
  • Facilities for preparing food and for serving it were primitive. Meals were poorly prepared and monotonous. A Brother categorised as ‘slip-shod’ by his own colleagues was in sole charge of this department for up to 15 years until the early 1960s and complainants testified that food was poor until this Brother was replaced. This was evidence of inferior management in the fundamental task of providing three meals a day for hundreds of boys. The facilities available in the Brothers’ kitchen were in stark contrast to those provided for the boys.
  • The problems identified by the Visitor in 1957 and confirmed by witnesses were not picked up by the Department Inspector. The food during an inspection was not typical of that served on a daily basis, indicating a serious flaw in the inspection procedure.


7.662Dr McCabe was critical of the standard of clothing provided for the boys.

7.663In 1944, following a number of general inspections, Dr McCabe complained that the boys’ clothes were very patched, but was informed that there was difficulty in procuring material. She reiterated her criticism sporadically.

7.664In 1955, following a general inspection of the School, a Department Inspector, Mr Ó Síochfhradha, wrote to the Resident Manager outlining a number of concerns in relation to the care of the boys. The Resident Manager responded by saying that while he agreed that the improvements were necessary:

The only obstacle that stands in the way and hinders progress being made in [the] scheme outlined is the lack of funds. The school is in a weak condition financially and for obvious reasons we are unable to meet fully our ordinary commitments at present.

7.665This conflicts with the Visitation Report for 1955, which stated that the financial position of Artane was very satisfactory:

On the 31st December, 1954 the Surplus Income from the School Account was £4,645 … and from the House Account £12,113 … On both accounts there was a Credit Balance at the end of the year of £36,203 to carry on to the 1955 accounts. There is a sum of £30,000 invested in the Building Fund.

7.666At this time, there was to the credit of the Institution £30,000 in the Congregation’s account. Between 1944 and 1956, the sum of over £17,500 was paid into the fund. Around this time, Artane paid back a long-standing debt of £8,800 to the building fund. The Community paid Visitation Dues of £3,000 in 1955.

7.667A Visitation Report in 1947, while describing the boys as ‘well fed and very well clothed’, recommended that boys should be allowed to wash and change after working in the farm. However, 10 years later, in 1957, the Visitor commented that the boys came in to meals in a filthy condition and stayed in their dirty and often wet clothes all day.

7.668A complainant committed in the mid-1940s described how boys who worked on the farm wore their everyday boots whilst working. They did not have overcoats or waterproof clothing, and wore a sack over their shoulders if it was raining.

7.669Many of the complainants resident in Artane in the 1940s complained of the quality of the clothing. The Brothers confirmed that the School produced its own cloth from which trousers were made. Although this material was clearly unsuitable for use in clothing, it was not replaced until the mid-1960s. A number of Brothers who spoke to the Investigation Committee stated that one of the major improvements introduced in the 1960s was an improvement in the boys’ clothing. Instead of being made by the tailoring shop, the clothes were bought in and were more comfortable and fashionable. The report of Dr Lysaght dated June 1966 described the boys as ‘well clothed: neat and tidy’.

7.670The inspection of underwear also had a humiliating and embarrassing impact on the boys. A witness who was sent to Artane in the late 1950s explained how, every Saturday evening, the boys would line up and receive their change of clothing for the following week. They had to display their underwear to the Brother in charge and were punished if it was soiled. Another man who was in Artane during the late 1960s described a similar regime and said that he did not wear his underwear for fear that it would be soiled by the end of the week.

7.671This humiliating and unnecessary practice was referred to by a number of complainants who described the weekly inspection of underpants. If the underwear was soiled, the boy would have to face the wall and await punishment, which generally meant slaps on the hand with the leather. One Brother said:

I accept that I did examine the underpants. The reason for examining the underpants was that complaints had come from the woman and the staff in the laundry that soiled underwear was coming down to the laundry, and with the number of boys that was in Artane at the time she wasn’t too happy about it … so word came up to us that we were to check the underpants and if an underpants was badly soiled, not the ordinary run of the mill thing like slide marks, that didn’t matter, it was a case where the underpants was badly soiled, it is then that I would take action … I would take the action of getting the fellow to go to the washroom and so on and clean it, then we would throw it into the bag with the rest of it. I will admit that – not in connection with the underpants – if [the complainant] says I put him facing the wall I will admit that.

7.672When asked whether the boys deserved to be slapped for something they had no control over, he replied:

I do not think they deserved to be punished … I accept that if I did slap them. I don’t think I slapped them for soiling their pants. I slapped them for other reasons but not for that … normally I would not punish a boy for soiling his pants. I mean that could happen to anybody. But if [the complainant] says I did it on one particular occasion, fair enough I will accept that.

7.673Many former residents spoke of the inspection of underpants, and recalled the punishment that ensued if they were soiled, but not one of them recalled having to wash them before they were thrown into the laundry bag.

7.674Fr Henry Moore82 reported in 1962 that clothing was an aspect of the general care that was ‘grossly neglected’. He said that the boys’ clothing was ‘uncomfortable, unhygienic and of a displeasing sameness’. The quality of the clothing was poor due to the fact that they were manufactured at the School. Overcoats were only supplied to those boys who were in a position to pay for them. He described as pathetic the sight of hundreds of boys on their Sunday walk in the depths of winter without an overcoat. He was also critical of the fact that boys had to change from their Sunday clothes after their walk into their everyday clothes which, in his view, was bad for morale. There was no change of clothing in accordance with the seasons, and the boys wore hob-nailed boots and heavy clothing all year round.

7.675An additional criticism was the lack of personal ownership of clothes, that were common property amongst the boys. Clothes were distributed randomly from a common pool, often without regard to size. Stockings and shirts were replaced once a week, underwear only once a fortnight.

7.676Fr Moore commented:

This fundamental disregard for personal attention inevitably generates insecurity, instability and an amoral concern for the private property of others. This I consider to be a causative factor in the habits of stealing frequently encountered among ex-pupils.

7.677A respondent who was in Artane in the 1960s recalled how shirts and undergarments were distributed randomly, and there was no sense of ownership attached to these.

7.678Fr Moore referred in his report to the lack of overcoats for the boys. The leader of the Department group that inspected Artane just before Christmas 1962 noted that, in early December, 412 raincoats had been ordered by the Institution for all the boys:

… as regards clothing the overcoats supplied by the school are raincoats only 412 of which were ordered early in December. All the boys questioned (50 approx.) wore woollen underpants.

The clothing of the boys while lacking refinement was adequate apart from the doubtful desirability of providing cloth overcoats which will require further investigation.

7.679Complainants who stated that the clothing provided by Artane was not adequate in cold weather, even into the late 1960s, were probably correct.

7.680In conclusion:

  • Clothing was poor, patched, and institutional in style, and the repeated criticism by the Department Inspector was often to no avail.
  • Underwear inspections in public were a feature of life in Artane. The explanation that this was done to clean the underpants before they were sent to the laundry was not confirmed by former residents. It would not, in any case, have afforded justification for this degrading practice.
  • Changes of clothes were not available to boys who worked in wet, muddy and dirty conditions. Until the mid-1960s, overcoats were not provided. Bad clothing marked out the boys and reduced their self-respect and personal dignity.

Accommodation and hygiene

7.681In 1944, Dr McCabe identified sanitation as being in need of modernisation. The poor state of the sanitation facilities was described in a letter written by a former resident to the Department of Justice in October 1946:

the only W.C.s 900 boys have at Artane Ind. School [are] 30 filthy buckets at the rear of a Hand Ball Alley which the boys use and I want to know when are more modern and hygienic lavatories going to be provided for the boys.

7.682He also queried whether the boys were involved in emptying and cleaning ‘these buckets of stenchious filth’.

7.683The Resident Manager responded, confirming that a farm labourer was employed to empty and clean the sanitary buckets as part of his duties. The labourer who usually performed this task had become unwell, and a number of the boys who worked on the farm had carried out this chore on a temporary basis. He assured the Department that another farm labourer had been assigned this task and was not assisted by the boys. The Department confirmed to the letter writer that plans for the modernisation of the sanitation system were ‘under active consideration’. The Department categorically denied that the boys were involved in removing the buckets. The letter went on to say:

The sanitation system at the school has been inspected time and again by Inspectors of this Department and by Sanitary Inspectors and as far as is known no complaint has been made about it from the point of view of the hygiene and health of the boys beyond the statement that the system is an old one. Scrupulous attention is given to the daily cleansing and disinfecting of the system.

7.684A man who was a pupil in Artane in the 1940s described the state of the toilets and the occasional duties given to some of the boys:

We had only buckets behind the handball alley … I would say there was about 20 to 30 buckets … it was newspaper we used instead of toilet rolls, there was no such thing … They had to be emptied … There was two men, [he thought they were siblings], … at the time it was a horse and cart … They were lay men … I was one of the ones that had to help on that occasion because I was a hefty lump of a lad … You had to put a bit of paper, them buckets could be over full … You have a dirty job there … we were just emptying the buckets … into this barrel. We called it a barrel. It was a horse and cart … it had to be done every day. Imagine there is 800 people were going through toilets … the handball alley was your wee wee, the back of the handball alley. You put them back. They were lovely looking going back … They went back with a kind of coat on them.

7.685The buckets, he insisted, were not washed out: ‘Where would you get water?’.

7.686The 1943 Visitation Report noted:

The Toilets for the boys are not modern in any sense. They are of the dry kind and buckets are used and changed daily. There is no running water in the urinals; they must be washed out every day.

7.687In each year between 1944 and 1947, the Visitor noted that the lavatory facilities required replacing. Work commenced on the replacement of this system in 1948.

7.688This primitive system remained in use until 1950, when the Visitation Report for that year stated: ‘The sanitary block completed by Br Tyce meets a long-standing want’.

7.689Apart from identifying the sanitation as being in need of modernisation, Dr McCabe expressed herself as consistently impressed with the condition of the premises in Artane. Conversely, the Visitor was regularly critical of aspects of the accommodation of Artane.

7.690Facilities for the boys were poor. There was no indoor recreation hall, as identified by the Visitor in 1945 and again in 1956: ‘The lack of a play-hall space is a crying need’. Similar comments were made in subsequent reports, but nothing was done until 1965 when an enclosed play shelter was erected, with recreation rooms for use during the winter. The financial position of the Institution was good during the 1950s, but the Visitation Reports reveal a marked reluctance to spend money on the Institution because of uncertainty as to its future as an industrial school.

7.691This uncertainty dogged Artane from about 1954 onwards and materially affected the standard of care but, even before that, there was a lack of urgency in seeing to the needs of the boys. Facilities that were in everyday use by the boys were left in poor condition, for example the lavatories, the recreation hall, the classrooms, and the kitchen and refectory.

7.692In 1955, Dr McCabe identified areas that required attention, including the kitchen and a new recreation hall. The Resident Manager accepted that the various improvements were necessary, and added that new schoolrooms were also required as the School building was in a dangerous condition and had been condemned some 40 years earlier. He stated:

The only obstacle that stands in the way and hinders progress being made in scheme outlined is the lack of funds. The school is in a weak condition financially and for obvious reasons we are unable to meet fully our ordinary commitments at present. As a matter of fact I cannot see how the work being done in this school can be continued for long under the present conditions.

7.693He sought confirmation from the Department as to the nature of any financial aid that would be available from the Department to effect the improvements.

7.694Matters came to a head when, on 24th November 1957, the Provincial of the Christian Brothers wrote to the Department of Education following a visit to Artane. He stated that urgent repairs and renovations were necessary, particularly to the kitchen and roofs. Before entering into a consideration as to whether the Congregation would incur any liability to effect such improvements, he requested information regarding the Department’s position in relation to the future of industrial and reformatory schools. He noted that the number of boys in Artane had steadily decreased and that ‘it is proving more than uneconomical to try to run it’ with smaller numbers.

7.695This letter caused anxiety in the Department, which is reflected in an internal memorandum dated 25th November 1957. The realisation sank in that, without Artane, the nearest location to Dublin of a senior boys’ industrial school was in Clonmel:

If Artane school were to close down the question of the provision of alternative accommodation for the area now served by it would have to be considered as an urgent problem. It is doubtful if any Religious Order would be very willing to undertake the provision of new Senior boys Industrial Schools in the Dublin area without a substantial grant in aid from the State towards the cost of the new building and an assurance that the State and local authorities would give a substantial increase on the existing rate of capitation maintenance grants.

7.696The capitation grant was increased by 50% as a result of the intervention by the Provincial. However, improvements remained outstanding and the Resident Manager pointed out that, despite the increase in the capitation grant, overheads remained high and were always increasing.

7.697By 1961, the kitchen was complete and new classrooms were due for completion that autumn; the recreation hall was not completed until 1965.

7.698Dr Lysaght was not impressed by the standards of cleanliness in the bathrooms and dormitories. He stated that, despite the School having being certified for 830 boys, realistically nowhere near this number of boys could be accommodated in the dormitories or dining room. In fact, of course, that number and, indeed, more than that number had been accommodated in Artane throughout the 1940s and well into the 1950s.

7.699Even with the falling numbers, Dr Lysaght was of the view that the dormitories were far too large, with 90 to 100 beds in each dormitory. Such a large number ‘gives an impression of institutional care and regimentation which is of course objectionable and not in accordance with modern trends’.

7.700In conclusion:

  • The 800 boys in Artane had no toilet facilities other than dry buckets until about 1950. The Department of Education and the Congregation should not have allowed such primitive conditions to continue for so long.
  • Some facets of the accommodation were poor and overlooked. Even when no uncertainty about the future of Artane existed and numbers were at their highest, provision of proper facilities for the boys was not considered a priority.


7.701Primary school education was a right of every child in the State during the period covered by this investigation. Failure to attend school was the reason given for committing 1,045 of the 3,685 boys detained between 1940 and 1969.

7.702It is clear from the section dealing with accommodation in Artane that the classrooms provided were poor, even by the standards of the time. Successive Visitation Reports decried the dilapidated and unsuitable condition of these buildings that had been condemned in the 1930s. As early as 1934, the Visitor commented:

The Buildings are in good repair on the whole, but the class-rooms are said to be unsafe; they will hold until the findings of the Commission now in session will determine the school accommodation required.

7.703By 1937, the Superior expressed the view to the Visitor that the classrooms were adequate and would survive another 10 years.

7.704It was not until 1963 that new classrooms were provided, five years before Artane ceased operating as an industrial school and opened as a secondary school for boys. Not only were the buildings themselves in poor condition, but they were cheerless and depressing, according to both ex-pupils and ex-staff members.

7.705The standard of the School premises came in for criticism in 1956 when the Visitor noted that they were drab, crowded and the furniture old fashioned. However, given the uncertain future of industrial schools, he recommended that any plans to refurbish be postponed. Plans for the construction of new classrooms were approved by the Department of Education in 1959, and they were completed in 1963.

7.706The Visitation Reports are complimentary of the standard of primary school education in Artane throughout the years, and frequently note that it is on a par with, if not better than, the standard in ordinary day schools. The Visitors were not alone in their praise. It is noted again and again in the Visitation Reports that the Department of Education School Inspector marked the standard of teaching as either efficient or highly efficient.

7.707Br Wiatt held the position of Principal from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s. He was praised in many Visitation Reports for the well-organised manner in which he ran the School.

7.708The Visitation Report in November 1938 noted that the School was well organised and the classes of reasonable size. The Visitor remarked that the numbers of boys in classes was in fact lower than in ordinary schools. There was a wide divergence in ages amongst children, particularly in the lowest class, because many children who were admitted to Artane had little or no education before being sent there. In the 1930s and 1940s, when numbers in the School rose to over 800, there were up to 24 teachers engaged in teaching classes, from infants through to 6th standard. The teaching staff was mostly made up of Brothers. By the mid-1950s, the number had reduced to 16 classes with 14 teachers, due to falling numbers.

7.709By 1957, there were 526 boys in the Institution, a drop of over 200 in two years. The Visitation Report that year noted that the School was overstaffed, with 12 teachers, and class sizes were well below average. Numbers continued to drop steadily in the Institution into the 1960s and, by 1968, there were 280 boys in the School.

7.710The school day was unconventional. Most of the boys attended school in the morning, from 9.30 a.m. to 11.40 a.m. and returned in the evening, from 5.00 p.m. to 7.15 p.m., a feature that the Cussen Commission criticised. The afternoons were spent in trades, at band practice or at knitting school.

7.711There was also ‘midday school’, which ran until 2.00 p.m. and catered for children of all ages who were classed ‘backward and neglected’. Children who were not otherwise engaged in trades, the farm or the band attended this class. The value of this class was questioned by the Visitor in 1958. It did not follow any particular curriculum and was not subject to Departmental Inspections.

7.712Boys over 14 who attended trades-training all day were required to attend ‘continuation school’, which ran from 5.00 p.m. to 7.15 p.m. They were taught by the same teachers who took the midday class, and these classes were not subject to inspection by the Department of Education.

7.713Although the continuation school offered an opportunity for extra education to boys who might not otherwise achieve 6th class standard, nevertheless there was little room in the above timetable for recreation. The boys who attended the continuation school in the evening did so after a long day working in a trade or on the farm. They were exhausted by the time they got to school, and did not even have time to change out of their work clothes before class.83 This daily routine remained until the School closed in 1968, although it was debated in 1959 whether normal school hours should be introduced.

7.714The same year, a secondary top school was formed in the School, although the Visitor opined in his Visitation Report of 1965 that a technical top might have been more appropriate. The School had opted for the secondary top, as there were no metal or woodwork teachers available.

7.715Two classes were formed from amongst those who had passed their Primary Certificate, and the first tranche of boys from Artane prepared to sit their Intermediate Certificate in 1966. However, it was also the last time a boy from Artane Industrial School would sit this examination. The Visitation Report of December 1966 noted that the class had been discontinued because of Department regulations. Only eight boys had passed the examination that year. Instead, a class for boys who wished to join the catering industry was set up under the supervision of the CERT84 organisation. It was hoped that the more promising boys could continue their education in the local secondary schools, although the Committee has seen no evidence that this ever occurred.

7.716In 1964, a special remedial class was formed for boys of sub-normal ability. The class was a success, and the Principal hoped to form another class so that the age range of boys would not be so disparate.

7.717By 1966, the number of boys of sub-normal ability had increased to the point where it was becoming an acute problem. The Christian Brothers were critical of the Department’s policy of directing these boys to Artane when the Institution did not have the specialised facilities to deal with these children.

7.718The School followed the National School programme, and the boys were eligible to sit the Primary Certificate examination. Many of the Visitation Reports point to the high success rate of the boys who sat this examination, but these figures need to be examined against the total number of boys in 6th standard. In some years, up to 50% of the boys in 6th standard in the primary school were not presented for this examination, which made the very high pass rate for those who did sit for it less significant.

7.719The standard of education for the boys engaged in trades during the day was criticised by a number of Visitors. The first hint of disapproval appeared in the Visitation Report of 1947, in which the Visitor noted that the few hours devoted to school work in the evening lacked drive and efficiency. In 1952, the Visitor queried in his report the wisdom of taking the boys out of primary school at the age of 14, regardless of whether they had reached the 6th standard.

7.720In 1952, the Visitor noted that more could be done for this category of boys. He stated:

… our institutions owe a great deal to those boys who work full time at their trades. Their work is of great financial advantage to each establishment. One obvious difficulty is that those teaching the trades are tradesmen and not teachers. If they have the power to control and teach it is only by accident and not as a result of their previous training.

7.721He noted with satisfaction the introduction of mechanical drawing during evening classes, and wondered whether it would be possible to employ vocational teachers to develop this aspect of education further.

7.722In 1954, 40 of the boys who had passed the Primary Certificate were nominated to sit the Technical School examinations. Two teachers from Marino Technical School taught woodwork and mechanical drawing. They were paid by the Vocational Committee. 16 boys sat the exam in June 1954, and 12 passed. In 1956, all but one of the 16 boys who presented for the examination were successful, and all had higher marks than the average. However, this scheme was discontinued.

7.723In conclusion:

  • The pass rate for the Primary Certificate was high by national standards, but not all boys of 6th class standard sat the examination.
  • Boys who attended continuation school did so after working at a trade during the day. Many boys had not attained 6th standard before they reached 14 and were taught by teachers in classes that were not subject to Department Inspections. The standard of their education was the subject of contemporary criticism in Visitation Reports.
  • Boys who completed the Primary Certificate went over the same course until they reached 14 and went into trades training, and did not get the opportunity to progress into secondary education.
  • The Christian Brothers have been critical of the Department of Education’s failure to provide for the educationally backward children in Artane, but they must also accept blame for their failure to provide secondary education to intelligent and able boys who passed through Artane. The Congregation ran secondary schools close to Artane, and yet no provision was made for any Artane boys to attend these schools.


7.724Training was an essential part of the philosophy of the Industrial School. If the boy was to become a useful citizen, he should be trained for productive employment. The author of the 1952 Visitation Report discussed some of the issues:

Artane has a more elaborate organisation of trades than our other Industrial Schools. These trades serve, or are supposed to serve, a dual purpose – training the boys for outside life and balancing the Artane budget. Br Oscar85 has charge of the shops, and each shop has one or more trained lay tradesman. In practice, some of the trades serve only one purpose. For example, the wages of the two shoemakers amount to £800 per annum. It is believed that this sum plus the money expended on leather would supply the boys with factory-made boots for one year. On the other hand, the tinsmiths supply the establishment with such things as kitchen-ware and refectory-ware at a cost well below factory prices, but no boy has been placed as a tinsmith in any outside factory in the past six years.

7.725The Visitor noted that:

the position is satisfactory with regard to placing tailors, shoemakers, waiters band boys and farmers, unsatisfactory in the case of bakers, weavers, carpenters, mechanics and painters, and hopeless in the case of tinsmiths. These latter have to be fitted in anywhere a vacancy can be found irrespective of its nature.

7.726He then asked the very pertinent question:

Would a boy who has served as a tinsmith for two years and who has to go into a post of a very different type for which he has received no training have a grievance? Would he feel that he had been exploited for two years? Are the Brothers justified for economic reasons in putting a boy at such work when they know that he is almost certain not to continue in it later? The nurse told me that one of her patients was a tinsmith against his will. He wanted to be a carpenter. I should have mentioned earlier that as far as is convenient the boys get their choice of trade.

7.727The Visitor’s question deserves to be answered. Were the Brothers using the boys as child labour, or were they genuinely training the boys for trades that would give them a chance of finding employment? This was an issue identified by the Cussen Report as being problematic as far back as 1936.

7.728The evidence is mixed. The majority of boys did not get jobs for which they had received training. Farming was the main activity to which boys were assigned in Artane, despite the majority coming from the city, and not surprisingly they tended to return to urban living. Boys who were taken on by farmers were let go once they were old enough to be paid full wages. As the Visitor had predicted, in later years they felt resentment that they had been used as child labour.

7.729Some boys did enter trades for which they had been trained, and they spoke well of Artane. A complainant sent to Artane in the mid-1940s, who was trained as a decorator, was extremely complimentary of the quality of training that he received. Another complainant from this era, who was trained as a tailor, praised his lay instructor for the high standard of instruction. A witness who was committed to Artane in the early 1950s, and remained there for five years, was placed in the band where he played the drums in his last two years. He had very happy memories of his time with the band and was very complimentary of the Brother in charge.

7.730A respondent who spent five years in Artane from the late 1950s gave evidence that the Superior and another Brother interviewed boys to see what areas they were interested in and, if they could facilitate their choices, they generally did so.

7.731The Investigation Committee, however, heard many complaints that boys could not enter the trade they wanted. The low demand for farm training and the high level of farm work that needed to be done meant that many boys found themselves in farming, despite expressing preferences for other trades. Most of the boys worked on the farm, and there was no doubt that the main purpose of this work was to provide food and an income for the Institution.

7.732Some boys were put into trades that had become obsolete, such as weaving and tailoring. One complainant explained: ‘Mass production was coming in and it was nearly all machinists … Where once a tailor cut one suit, now they could cut 100 suits’.

7.733Even when the trade was a needed one, there were problems. Br David Gibson explained at the public hearing on 16th June 2005 into Letterfrack:

[The children] weren’t going through the normal apprenticeship and therefore when it came to them continuing their training, the training that they had already received was not accepted by the unions … There was an inherent difficulty in the training that the young people were getting.

7.734This issue was raised in the Cussen Report, but nothing was ever done to resolve it. The status quo was just accepted by both the Department and the Congregation and, as a result, boys trained in Artane continued to face real problems finding employment to suit their skills.

7.735In conclusion:

  • The Christian Brothers assumed a responsibility to provide training and they failed to do so for many of their pupils.
  • Industrial training was a key objective of the system and the largest industrial school in the country should have provided it to a high standard but training was, to a large extent, only a by-product of work that met the needs of the Institution.
  • In an era of high unemployment, it would have been impossible to place all the boys in jobs, and it would be unreasonable to criticise the Christian Brothers for failing in this regard. In many respects, they achieved a high level of employment for their school leavers. However, much of this employment was menial and exploitative and, for some, led to a lifetime of such work.

The Artane Boys Band

7.736Fr Henry Moore stated in his report to Archbishop McQuaid in 1962 that ‘in my opinion the band is the only worthwhile achievement of the school’.

7.737The band performed regularly in Croke Park at major GAA fixtures. They also toured the length and breadth of the country and broadcast shows on radio. The high point of their fame saw them perform at venues in New York and Boston, in May 1962, and included a television performance.

7.738According to the Congregation, by the 1960s, approximately 80 boys were involved in the band at some level. This was a much higher number than in previous decades, when the participation was as low as 40 boys.

7.739According to Fr Moore:

The time used, the money spent, the number of engagements annually met are, I fear, out of all proportion to the results obtained. The maintenance of the band, although approximating £2,000 annually, is a continual strain on financial resources.

7.740A Visitation Report in 1957 painted a different picture and stated that the band was on a ‘sure financial footing and more than paying its way’. Visitation Reports also reveal that, in 1938, the School received £215 in payments for band performances. It was operating at a loss in the early 1940s. By 1957, the band was earning the School just under £900 per annum.

7.741Fr Moore also expressed concern at the effect that participation in the band had on the boys’ education. In 1946, the Resident Manager had obtained sanction from the Department of Education to credit the time the boys spent attending broadcasts and performances as part of their school attendance. Fr Moore believed that the boys’ education suffered as a result of prolonged hours of band practice and days missed from school attending performances. He found little evidence to suggest that even a small number of boys continued their musical career upon leaving school.

7.742Br Vailant told the Investigation Committee that life in Artane tended to revolve around the band and that the needs of the band took priority.

7.743The boys who toured with the band stayed with families in the locality. They were taught table etiquette and instructed on ‘how to behave themselves in a decent home’. Their behaviour on tour did a ‘tremendous amount to win admirers for Artane and to counteract the smear campaign that would appear to be the settled policy of certain sections of the public Press,’ according to the Visitor in 1957.

7.744Some of the boys who formed part of the band went on to make a career in the Army band. Almost all of the complainants who were in it and gave evidence to the Investigation Committee gave positive feedback regarding their experience with the band. One complainant stated that he was treated very well in the band, and that the majority of boys in the band had been transferred to Artane from convent industrial schools.


  • Participation in the band could be a positive experience for the boys involved, and it was an extraordinary achievement and an illustration of what could be achieved with proper direction and training. Boys who were part of the band fared better in Artane and afterwards.
  • Boys who were not in the band missed an important part of the life of the Institution. The band absorbed a huge amount of time and energy, and similar efforts should have been directed at improving conditions for all the boys.
  • The band was the public face of Artane, and members of the public would have been reassured when seeing the boys performing that they were receiving good care and education, but in fact the band did not represent the reality for most boys in Artane.


7.746One of the more disturbing images of Artane that was presented to the Committee was the plight of the boys during recreation periods. Weather in Dublin is often cold, wet and windy and, until 1965, there was no proper indoor recreation facility where they could play. A barn-like structure had been erected in the mid-1940s, that had no walls and a tin roof, and which barely fitted the hundreds of boys. Dr McCabe formed part of a tripartite inspection team that carried out a two-day inspection of Artane in December 1962. On the issue of recreation, the inspection team stated:

He [the Resident Manager] deplored the money spent by a predecessor on the erection of a huge play-shelter of hay-shed design which gave cover overhead but absolutely no protection from wind or cold. This indeed was a hopeless attempt at planning and a waste of money … The recreation hall is a long cement-floored room, uncared for, dismal, depressing and dirty and with no redeeming feature whatsoever. The school classrooms are of the same ramshackle type … demolition is probably the only solution.

7.747Visitation Reports had identified the lack of proper recreational facilities from the early 1940s, but no improvements were effected until the mid-1960s. This directly impacted on the daily lives of the boys in Artane and should not have taken over 20 years to address.

7.748Games and sports were part of the day in Artane. Teams were fielded in GAA events throughout Leinster. These teams reached a high standard of proficiency, and boys with a talent for sport had a more positive experience in Artane than boys who had not. In general, the Committee did not hear much evidence from these boys, although some did attend hearings and were able to distinguish the experiences with teams from other experiences in Artane.

7.749The Brothers put a considerable effort into training teams for matches with other schools and playing outdoor games. However, the lack of indoor recreational facilities represented a severe deprivation.


7.750In 1947, the Department of Education wrote to the Resident Manager seeking information on the aftercare provided, following a query by the Joint Committee of Women’s Societies and Social Workers. The Resident Manager responded, confirming that a Brother was assigned on a full-time basis to deal with aftercare. Another Brother helped out in cases where boys had ‘slipped and fallen’. The Resident Manager stated that he himself settled difficult cases, which had meant ‘travelling as far as Leitrim, Westmeath, Wicklow etc’.

7.751Contact was maintained with the boys by way of letters and visits. When boys were sent to the country, the Parish Priest of the town was informed and asked to ‘take a paternal interest in the boys … Kind and encouraging replies to these requests are invariably received’. He also confirmed that the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Dublin were being encouraged to include past pupils as beneficiaries of their work. It was hoped that eventually this would become a nationwide initiative:

Boys who have lost employment are helped to find new employment when practicable. On a number of occasions when it was considered necessary and advisable boys have been recalled and retained for a further period in the School.

7.752Although Dr Lysaght was informed that the Manager placed the boys in suitable jobs upon discharge, ensured that they were properly treated, and if they left a job, found them another, he still expressed concern. He commented:

this while outside the province of the School and Dept. of Education would seem an essential part of the support of young boys to make their way in the world. It can well be the case that all the time and care given them in the schools can be of no avail unless they are safeguarded during the first year or two after leaving.

7.753He was told a Brother was assigned to visit the boys and keep in contact with them. Many of those who trained in the band found work in the Army bands; others were placed to work in hotels or in houses of religious orders. In fact, the vast majority of the boys did not go into such employment, but were sent as farm hands all over the country.

7.754A common theme amongst the complainants committed to Artane is that Brothers were never in direct contact with them once they left Artane. When records were put to them that the Brothers did make enquiries with their employers to check their progress, they accepted this was true, but as far as they were concerned once they walked through the gates of Artane for the last time, they were very much on their own in the world.

7.755Another common thread running through the testimony was that the boys were placed in low-income or, indeed, no-income jobs that offered no stability: they tended to move from job to job. Some complainants did fare well in later life, but they felt that this was despite, rather than because of, their experience in Artane, or indeed any assistance they received from the Brothers on leaving Artane.

7.756One witness, who left Artane in the mid-1940s, went to work on a farm in County Laois. He worked seven days a week and slept in a hayloft above the horses. He earned up to 10 shillings a week. He moved from this job to another farm in the area where he was treated better, and from there he moved to another farm before moving back to Dublin. He was not aware that the Brothers were checking up on his progress, as revealed in the records.

7.757Another witness, who left Artane in the early 1950s, was also sent to a farm in Athlone. He was not paid the 12 shillings a week promised to him and had to beg for money to go to the cinema. He eventually went back to Artane where he was told that he was a failure. He stayed there for a while, working on the farm for which he received no payment. He went from there to work for a butcher in Roscommon, where he was treated well. He was told not to tell anyone that he had come from Artane, but instead to say that he had worked with a wealthy family in Wicklow. When news leaked as to his true origin, he felt compelled to leave. His employment history after that involved a succession of low-paid, menial jobs.

7.758One witness, who left Artane in the late 1950s, remarked that when he was discharged, ‘I wasn’t able for the outside world’. A complainant who left Artane 11 years later expressed the same sentiment, ‘Based on up to the time I left, I don’t think that I was prepared for the outside world, to be honest with you’. Another witness said very simply, ‘I lost a little bit of faith because after I came out I realised about life, that life wasn’t as simple as it was in Artane’.

7.759A witness who was sent to Artane in the late 1950s stated that he spent three years training as a wood machinist, which he thoroughly enjoyed. When the time came for him to leave Artane, he was told that a job had been secured for him on a farm in Tipperary. When he queried why he was being sent to a farm rather than to a position suited to his training, he was told that that was all he was fit for. He refused to go to the farm and found himself a job.

7.760Another witness, who left Artane in the late 1950s, was placed with a butcher in Co Leitrim after being trained as a weaver: ‘Even today I can’t understand they trained me as a weaver and they gave me a job as a butcher’. He received no monetary payment, and instead was given clothing from a market every month. He continued, ‘I asked to go back, I was there for about a year and I asked if I could go back to Artane, of all places to go back to, but it was the only place I knew’. He stated that he never received any direct communications from the Brothers whilst in Leitrim, and was surprised to learn that they had been in contact with his employer. The Brothers found him another job as a chef in Dublin.

7.761A witness, who was discharged from Artane at the age of 16 in the mid-1960s, was sent to work on a poultry farm, having received training in this area. He stayed there for two years and was very badly treated: ‘I was given less than 2 a week, I was hardly being fed, and kicked like a football’. However, he said, it was better than life in Artane.

7.762Another witness said:

We were not trained in how to live amongst society, we were brought up in a society where we all had to fight to keep our corner and stand up to bigger boys who bullied you or tried to get you to do things that you didn’t want to do, take your food off the table or whatever. So it was a constant battle to stand up and be counted or be put down, one or the other. Unfortunately that’s the way my life went in the early part of my years from Artane. It was always the same, I always thought people were talking about me, people were ganging up on me and I would lose my head. I would just lash out and hit people.

7.763A respondent, who worked in Artane in the 1950s, gave evidence that echoed the evidence of the complainants. On the one hand, he believed the boys were looked after in terms of education, training and food, but he questioned how well prepared they were for life after leaving Artane.

7.764Mr Dunleavy commented on aftercare:

The provision of after care was one of the statutory requirements of the industrial school system, and the School was supposed to have some regard to the welfare of its former pupils until they attained 18 years of age. In practice both archival records and interviews with Christian Brothers who worked at Artane indicate that aftercare, such as it was, was a very hit-or-miss affair. The Brother in charge of aftercare was responsible for trying to secure full or licensed employment for the boys and then monitoring their progress, usually for two years. In practice employers made representations to the Brother responsible for aftercare and if they were considered suitable, boys were assigned to work for them. Boys were often left unmonitored in their new positions and the only information the school had in relation to them was that provided by the boys themselves should they choose to write to the School during the early course of their employment. The low priority with which aftercare was regarded is indicated by the fact that of the two Brothers who were in charge for many years, Br. Colbert was quite an elderly man while Br. Leon was known to be an extreme eccentric, and neither man was even provided with the services of a motor car to attempt to visit the boys who were to be found in employment throughout the country.

7.765In conclusion:

  • The objective of aftercare was to ensure the welfare of the boys following their discharge from Artane. It was often conducted, however, without direct contact with them. It would appear that post-discharge inquiries were conducted mainly with employers, to establish their satisfaction with the boy.
  • Insofar as aftercare did occur, and subject to the limitations set out above, it was more extensive than the ex-residents were aware of. Many were surprised when they saw documentation showing the level of contact maintained between the School and their employer.
  • Direct communication with boys who had left Artane would have had a positive impact. Failure to provide more of it represented a missed opportunity to extend support and encouragement to boys after discharge.


7.766Dr Anna McCabe carried out General and Medical Inspections of Artane between 1939 and 1963. Before she resigned from her position in 1965, she prepared a report on the industrial and reformatory schools system in Ireland dated 29th February 1964, in which she made specific reference to Artane. Although critical of specific aspects of care in Artane, Dr McCabe was complimentary of the overall management of the Institution. She regarded the School as very well run, and described the boys as healthy and well looked after. She was satisfied with the medical care available to the School, which she noted involved weekly visits from a GP and regular attendances by a dentist.

7.767Scabies and chilblains were identified as problems in the 1940s and, in 1944, with 100 cases of scabies identified by Dr McCabe, she expressed her dissatisfaction with the medical record-keeping in the School, as very few records were kept at all.

7.768In 1946, Br Tyce wrote to Dr McCabe on behalf of the Disciplinarian, requesting permission for the height and weight of the boys to be measured every six months rather than every three months as ‘it is very troublesome here on account of the very large number of boys; and it affects the different departments of the Institution’. He received a terse response from Dr McCabe dismissing the proposal. By 1948, Dr McCabe noted with satisfaction that the medical records were well kept.

7.769After another criticism of record-keeping in the mid-1950s, her Report of 1958 recorded that she was satisfied in this regard. She also noted that the children were examined by medical personnel from Dublin Corporation, which ensured that they could avail of free ophthalmologist and dental care funded by the local authority. However, while the local authority carried out medical examinations on all of the boys, it was only prepared to pay for spectacles and dental treatment required by boys from Dublin. In her 1956 Report she suggested that the dentist be requested to fill teeth rather than extract them.

7.770In the early 1960s, a high proportion of children were treated in the School infirmary compared to the numbers sent to hospital. Also of interest during this period was a significant number of boys classed as noticeably below average physique.

7.771Mr Dunleavy’s report observed that the infirmary was run ‘in a somewhat haphazard manner’:

When qualified staff left the infirmary they were not replaced and indeed a Christian Brother who was suffering from mental illness at the time was placed in charge of the infirmary.

7.772He referred to the situation that arose in 1959, and which is recorded in the annals, when the nurse handed in her notice and it ‘was decided not to replace her but instead to hand over the running of the infirmary to a member of the Community’. Mr Dunleavy also cited the Visitation Report for late 1959, which states:

The arrival of Br Danton,86 who is a mental case, created the problem of trying to get him something to do … He was tried in charge of the infirmary but had little or no control over the children and would even send them to the medicine chest to get their own medicines.

7.773His interviews with Christian Brothers confirmed that the infirmary was run in an amateur fashion.

7.774At the public Phase I hearing, Br Reynolds commented on Br Danton’s appointment to the infirmary. He rejected the Visitor’s description of the Brother’s mental condition, and he did not appear to regard it as a major example of incompetence or failure of care. He said:

I would say a number of things about it. First of all, obviously I know who the Brother was, I knew the Brother and I would not agree with the description of the Visitor, but so be it. Secondly, I would say that he wasn’t a teaching Brother and I don’t think the criticism was in relation to the mental soundness of the person. I think the main criticism was here was somebody that was sent in and he does not seem to be able to fulfil any role, so essentially I think the Visitation Report said that he was a negative quantity in the place. I would take that certainly I presume not in the community and from religious observance, but from the point of view that his work rate wasn’t very good and his contribution wasn’t adequate in the eyes of the Visitor. As you wisely say, why not take him out. The simple fact of the matter was he was left there, they tried him in a number of situations, they didn’t work and eventually he was moved on. During part of that time incidentally, the Brother in question was studying in university, he wasn’t a full-time member of the staff.

7.775Dr Lysaght had visited the School in Spring 1966 and was critical of the medical record-keeping. He revisited in September and noted that record-keeping had improved. He noted that the boys’ weight and height were recorded every quarter, by their teachers in class, to cause minimum disruption. He said that, ‘In general the boys impressed me as healthy, well nourished and physically fit’. He carried out a spot check on a sample of boys and found a large number had tooth decay. Dr Lysaght recommended that a dentist by assigned to the School but, again, the issue of who would pay for the service was raised.

7.776Many witnesses complained about the medical care they were given. One complainant, who was in Artane in the 1940s, stated that the doctor visited approximately every six months. All of the boys stood out on parade, and the doctor, accompanied by a Brother, walked up and down between the rows of boys. That was the extent of the examination. Other complainants have confirmed this practice.

7.777A complainant who was committed to Artane for six years in 1945 recalled being told to go to the infirmary a number of times for various ailments. He never went, and nobody ever checked whether he had in fact attended. He gave his reason for not attending: ‘All screaming in there. The things I have heard about that place. I can’t remember it now. I was never actually in it’.

7.778A complainant committed to Artane in the early 1940s recalled many of the boys had scabs on their faces. His mother took him out for the day and, on seeing the state of his face, she bought him some salving cream. This complainant, who was 10 when he was sent to Artane, stated that he was never examined by a doctor or nurse during his four years there.

7.779Another former pupil, who spent seven years in Artane during the 1940s, stated that he had never received a routine check-up in Artane. The same complainant stated that he grew more than a foot in height in the 12 months after being discharged from Artane, because he received proper medical attention for the first time.

7.780One witness, who spent seven years in Artane from 1946, described the treatment he received for a serious injury he sustained to all of the fingers on one hand, as a result of an accident during training in the carpentry workshop. He stated that sulphur was poured over his wounds and he used to pass out with the pain. He was kept in the infirmary for quite some time, but did not see a doctor. He stated that, in his seven years in Artane, he only saw the doctor once when there was an outbreak of diarrhoea in the School.

7.781In an interview given in the late 1980s, Br Burcet described how hard he had to work there. He said that, on one occasion, 100 boys contracted influenza, and he was on his own in the dormitory looking after them. He described the utter exhaustion he felt at the end of the outbreak. Looked at from the perspective of the boys, one Brother in charge of 100 seriously ill boys was not an adequate standard of care. Whilst the tireless and selfless endeavours of the Brother in question are to be commended, the system that placed both him and the boys in such a situation must be condemned.

General observations on Departmental Inspections

7.782The Congregation stated that the overall judgement of Dr McCabe on Artane was positive. In some respects, this is correct, but an analysis of Dr McCabe’s reports reveals that she was impressed at the scale of the enterprise of Artane and the way a small number of Brothers managed the vast number of boys, rather than with the standard of care the boys received. Much of her comment was aspirational rather than factual. Rather than record conditions as they were, she tended to rely on promises that there would be improvements in the future. Successive Resident Managers did not inform the Department of Education as to the true financial position of the Institution, with the result that conditions were tolerated by the Inspector, in the belief that the Institution was barely surviving on the funding it received when she should have insisted on immediate changes.

Conclusions on neglect

7.7831.Food: mealtimes were not properly supervised, and young or timid boys were bullied. Facilities for preparing and serving food for the boys were primitive.

2.Clothing: clothing was poor, patched and institutional, and the repeated criticism by the Department Inspector was to no avail, despite a healthy surplus in the School accounts. Underwear inspections in public were unjustified and degrading.

3.Accommodation and hygiene: accommodation was generally poor. Toilet facilities were primitive until 1953.

4.Education: the Christian Brothers condemn the Department of Education for failing to cater for educationally backward children in Artane, but the Congregation is also to be criticised for its failure to provide secondary education to many of the intelligent and able boys who passed through Artane.

5.Training: industrial training was a key objective of the system and, as the biggest industrial school, Artane >should have provided a high standard. However, training was only an offshoot of work that met the needs of the Institution.

6.The Band: boys who were in the band had better experiences of Artane than those who were not, and participation for some was a positive experience. The band was an extraordinary success and illustrated what the boys could accomplish with proper training.

7.Recreation: the Brothers put a considerable effort into training teams for matches with other schools and playing outdoor games, but the lack of indoor recreational facilities was a severe deprivation.

8.Aftercare: the purpose of aftercare was to ensure boys’ welfare, but direct contact was not thought to be essential, and it was often conducted only with employers to establish their level of satisfaction. It was, nevertheless, at a higher level than the ex-residents were aware of, and many were surprised at the level of contact maintained between the School and their employers.

Fr Henry Moore

7.784Fr Henry Moore spent nine years in St Vincent’s Orphanage, Glasnevin, an institution run by the Christian Brothers, before he entered the priesthood. His first appointment, to the parish of Coolock, included the position of chaplain in Artane, which he held from 1960 until 1967. He prepared a confidential report on the School in July 1962 at the request of the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr McQuaid. His report was severely critical of the organisation and management of the Institution. Contrasting conclusions on the Institution were expressed in three reports written by Department of Education personnel, after they carried out an unannounced inspection of the School in December that year. The most senior official concluded that the School emerged very creditably from the inspection. The two approaches were analysed in depth at meetings of an Inter-Departmental Committee on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders in early 1963. Fr Moore gave evidence to the Investigation Committee, during which he reiterated and elaborated on the contents of his report. The Christian Brothers rely on the three reports from the Department of Education officials to defend the Institution against Fr Moore’s criticisms.

7.785Fr Moore’s report to the Archbishop said that, with 450 boys in the School, the only way it could be successfully managed was by breaking the number down into small units. He was critical of the way the boys were indiscriminately admitted to the School without regard to their circumstances, background or special needs. He was particularly uncomplimentary about the general atmosphere in the School and the consequences for the boys:

The very structure of the school is in dilapidated condition, colourless and uninspiring and reflects the interior spirit … The atmosphere is somewhat unreal, particularly in regard to lack of contact with the opposite sex and this unnatural situation in a group of 450 boys plus a staff of 40 men invariably leads to a degree of sexual maladjustment in the boys … The boys seem to be denied the opportunity of developing friendly and spontaneous characters; their impulses become suffocated and when they are suddenly liberated their reactions are often violent and irresponsible.

7.786Fr Moore criticised the rigid and severe discipline in Artane, where every activity was marshalled and which he thought often approached pure regimentation:

Constant recourse to physical punishment breeds undue fear and anxiety. The personality of the boy is inevitably repressed, maladjusted, and in some cases, abnormal. Their liberty is so restricted that all initiative and self esteem suffers.

7.787In addition to its general condemnation of the regime, the report made detailed criticisms of the care provided in Artane under the headings of diet, apparel, medical attention, religious observance, education, technical instruction, and aftercare.

7.788In comments on the boys’ clothes, for example, Fr Moore thought that this aspect of care was ‘grossly neglected’ and had adverse consequences:

A boy’s personal clothing is as much the property of his neighbour. Shirts, underwear (vests are not worn), stockings, footwear, nightshirts (no pyjamas) are all common property and are handed down from generations. When these articles are duly laundered they are distributed at random, sometimes without regard to size.

7.789Stockings and shirts were replaced once a week, underwear once a fortnight. There was no change of clothing in summer, and the boys wore hob-nailed boots and heavy clothes all year round. In contrast, he was impressed when he visited the Industrial School in Salthill, also run by the Christian Brothers, and saw that the boys there ‘were attired appropriately and inexpensively for the summer season.’

7.790Overall, Fr Moore suggested ‘a reappraisal of the system at governmental level … and a major reform in the management of Artane’. He strongly recommended the introduction of female staff to the School and the renaming of the School to that of a patron saint, in order to remove the public misconception that Artane was in some way associated with the prison system.

7.791In summary, the report concluded that Artane required drastic revision as ‘the methods employed are obsolete, proper training is neglected and there is no attempt at adequate rehabilitation’.

7.792Fr Moore learned about an Inter-Departmental Committee that was considering submissions in relation to Industrial and Reformatory Schools and he contacted the Chairman, Mr Peter Berry, who was the Secretary of the Department of Justice. A meeting took place on 26th November 1962 attended by Fr Moore, Mr Berry and the Secretary to the Committee, Mr Toal. Fr Moore’s criticisms, as summarised in the minutes, included the following: the absence of aftercare; a big percentage of boys needed psychiatric treatment which was not available; a psychologist was also required; many of the boys were institutionalised from babyhood until 16 years; the educational standard was very low; trade training was poor and did not lead to jobs in those callings and boys ended up in dead end jobs; neglect in regard to clothing, bed clothes, food and medical care; the Manager was unsuitable and ‘an unwilling captain’; and the Institution was short of money. At Mr Berry’s request, Fr Moore agreed to attend a meeting with Dr Ó Raifeartaigh, Secretary of the Department of Education.

7.793This meeting took place on 13th December 1962. Dr Ó Raifeartaigh gave Fr Moore a very different reception to the one he received from Mr Berry and vigorously cross-examined him on the minutes of the November meeting. He accused Fr Moore of being inaccurate as regards certain salient facts and effectively suggested that he had a vendetta against the Christian Brothers. Fr Moore was shaken after the encounter, and wrote to the Archbishop the following day, informing him that the meeting had been ‘a most humiliating and embarrassing experience’. Mr Berry was quick to distance himself from the stance adopted by the Secretary of the Department of Education and wrote to the latter reproving him on his hostile interrogation of Fr Moore.

7.794The upshot of the December meeting was that the Secretary of the Department of Education ordered an unannounced inspection of Artane by three senior Department personnel. They were requested to focus on food, clothing and management in general: ‘they should state the facts reasonably and with discretion – good and bad to be included’. The inspection took place over two days on 20th and 21st December and each inspector furnished a report.

7.795Mr Seamus Mac Uaid, Higher Executive Officer, wrote the principal report, which was described by the Chairman, Mr Berry, as ‘a model of its kind’. The general conclusion of the report was reassuring to the Department, but many of the detailed observations did not differ significantly from Fr Moore’s. The writer began with a summary of his findings:

it is my opinion that the boys in Artane Industrial School are well fed, warmly clothed, comfortably bedded and treated with kindness by the Christian Brothers in an atmosphere conducive to their spiritual and physical development. I believe, however, that boys should not be reared away from the refining influence of women and am convinced that the introduction of female assistance at key points in the management would render more effective the work of the institution.

7.796He described Artane as:

a massive pile standing on rising ground … erected in the 1870’s with all the solidity of the period and an extravagance of space that makes a nightmare of maintenance in modern times.

7.797A feature of this report is the frequent reference to the desirability of involving women in the work of the Institution, and how male standards compared unfavourably with female ones in respect of care of children. Mr Mac Uaid cited the example of the kitchen, which was staffed by one Brother and five older boys and which had recently been modernised, at a cost of £25,000:

The standards of cleanliness, cooking and presentation of the food were high but they were male standards and lacked the finishing touches which woman alone can provide in this particular domain.

7.798The aprons worn by kitchen staff were dirty, the plates were slightly greasy and not dried properly, and it would be preferable if dessert were served on a delph plate rather than the enamel plates used. However:

from observation and the questions asked of the boys, I am satisfied that the children are well fed and empty plates bore testimony to the quality of the food.

7.799Whilst he was satisfied with the menu for the two days of the inspection, he did note the absence of butter from all meals.

7.800The report described in turn: the food given to the boys and the cooking and dining facilities; the dormitories; the boys’ clothing; the laundry; the washing facilities; games and recreation; education and training; aftercare; the farm; holidays; and the general atmosphere. The overall conclusion was that:

Artane emerged from the inspection with credit. Within the limitations of an inherited system which favoured big schools, all male management and a public purse that had to be prised open at times, the Superior, Br Ourson, is doing a good job in providing for the spiritual, educational and physical needs of the boys entrusted to his care.

7.801The writer commended him on the improvements he had made to the School, in particular to the kitchen and classrooms. He recommended the following innovations, which the Manager had no objection to, provided that they were funded by the Department:

1.Introduction of a small community of nuns to provide much-needed female influence on various aspects of industrial school life.

2.Creation of two separate schools for junior and senior boys.

3.Establishment of a hostel for boys leaving Artane who had been abandoned or orphaned.

7.802Dr McCabe reported her complete satisfaction with the medical facilities, treatment and monitoring provided in Artane. She referred to her own regular medical and general inspections and medical checks carried out every two years by the local authority. She commended the hygiene and said that the boys’ diet was very good. The dormitories were ‘large, airy spacious and very well maintained’. Dr McCabe concluded:

I would also wish to state that there is a most pleasant relationship between the Brothers and their care and I have never met with any fear on the boy’s behalf of those in charge of them.

7.803In his short covering report, the most senior inspector, Mr MacDaibhid, Assistant Principal Officer and Inspector in charge of industrial schools, endorsed the reports of his colleagues and added:

To sum up I would say that the school emerged very creditably from the inspection. No serious fault could be found in Artane and the impression of the “big happy family” atmosphere which pervaded the entire institution was inescapable. Atmosphere in such a school is all-important. Minor adverse criticisms only could be levelled at the school.

7.804In the course of his report, Mr MacDaibhid mentioned that the ‘overcoats supplied by the School are raincoats only, 412 of which were ordered in December’. Mr MacUaid disclosed in his report that the number of boys in residence was 413, which means that outer garments for all the boys were being procured. The provision of overcoats for the boys was a matter of controversy in the questioning of Fr Moore by counsel for the Christian Brothers. This report suggests that these raincoats were being ordered for the first time, and it does not disprove Fr Moore’s report.

7.805Mr MacDaibhid concluded:

Having passed strictures on Bro Ourson in the past, I must say that he emerged from this inspection with, in my opinion, much improved stature, his previous weakness being an apparently casual disregard for the authority of the Department.

7.806The Department Inspection Reports on Artane were considered by the Inter-Departmental Committee in March and again in May 1963. The Committee ‘could not agree’ that the School had emerged commendably from the inspections, or that the praise accorded to the management was deserved. Mr MacDaibhid continued to assert that the criticisms noted in the MacUaid report were minor and were applicable to all industrial schools, although he did concede that there was a need for more money, which was true of industrial schools generally. Dr McCabe’s report on the School ‘was noted’. Ultimately, the Committee agreed to bring the criticisms noted by Mr MacUaid and recorded in the minutes of the March meeting to the attention of the Minister for Education.

7.807The relevant part of the minutes is introduced by the statement that the MacUaid report ‘was then considered paragraph by paragraph, the Chairman indicating the many ways in which the criticisms corresponded to what Fr Moore had said’ and goes on:

The Report makes these criticisms for instance:-

“that boys should not be reared away from the refining influence of women;

“the necessity for having female assistants at key points in the institution;

“there is an extravagance of space which makes a nightmare of maintenance (of Artane) in modern times;

“nowhere else was I more forcibly struck by the criticism that Artane is too big than in this vast dining hall among 400 youngsters … The fact that the dining hall was designed to accommodate several hundred more than the number present added to the impression that the charge “institutionalised” could not be defended here;

“it is essential that a woman qualified in domestic economy and with a female assistant, be placed in charge of the kitchen and dining hall;

“the standards here (in the dormitories) were male standards … the furnishing of a dormitory is a woman’s role which man cannot adequately fill;

“the clothes in most cases were of the rough type tweed in the familiar poor-house colours … automatically identifying the wearers … The Sunday clothes were … equally drab in colour and unimaginative in pattern … a woman with ideas could do really good work in the school workshop …

“add to this shirts buttoned or unbuttoned at the neck and no ties and even the most presentable boys are handicapped in appearance;

“on paper this (each boy’s issue of clothes) looks a generous issue but it is not supported by the appearance of the boys;

“the same general criticisms are made of the laundry which is described as being old-fashioned in methods and machinery;

“he (the Dean of discipline) is too young for an exacting job that requires maturity, had little experience of the city type prior to his appointment as disciplinarian;

“in response to the suggestion that a course in psychology in U.C.D. would help in an office of this important kind he (the Superior) replied that the question had never been examined by the Order;

“the play-yard was disappointing, its surface uneven and puddle-holed contributing in turn to dirty boots and shoes and spattered legs;

“the recreation hall is a long cement-floored room, uncared for, dismal, depressing and dirty and with no redeeming feature whatsoever … The school classroom one of the same ramshackle type …

“the Superior drew attention to the lack of a satisfactory hostel for orphans or abandoned boys leaving Artane at 16 years;

“the absence of a hostel for post industrial school boys with no homes to go to is a weakness in the system of aftercare which I think the Department should try to rectify;

“12 boys (out of 150 eligible) were entered for the M.T. Group Certificate … in June, 1962 but all failed … this Branch will pursue this unsatisfactory performance with our Technical Instruction Branch;

“the Resident Manager very seldom applies for the retention of boys until the age of 17 years to continue their secondary or technical school studies and the replies given by the Bursar in defence of this policy were vague and unsatisfactory;

“Cleanliness in the bakery was barely adequate and the white tunics of the apprentices could do with replacement”.

7.808The Committee also set out and approved general recommendations for change for industrial schools, many of which were influenced by the Moore and Department of Education inspections. The recommendations included the following:

(1)The term ‘industrial school’ should be abolished.

(2)Larger State grants should be made to industrial schools.

(3)Inspections should take place more frequently.

(4)Minimum standards regarding clothing, bedding etc should be prescribed by regulations.

(5)Adequate financial provision should be set aside for maintenance, repairs and appropriate recreational facilities.

(6)A matron/nurse should be appointed to each school.

(7)City children should not be committed for lengthy periods to country institutions.

(8)Firm links between institutions and the Probation Service should be established for the benefit of those leaving institutions.

(9)Visiting Committees should be set up for each industrial school and, where appropriate, Aftercare Committees.

7.809A specific recommendation was agreed regarding Artane that an educational psychologist should be appointed to the School.

7.810Although the Minister for Justice approved these recommendations, they were never implemented by the Department of Education which had that remit. Nevertheless, the proceedings of the Inter-Departmental Committee laid the foundations for the establishment of the Kennedy Committee in 1967.

7.811Before Dr Anna McCabe retired from her position as Medical Inspector, she furnished a General Report on Industrial and Reformatory Schools dated 29th February 1964. She made specific reference to Fr Moore’s report, and stated that she was in substantial agreement with most of its contents. However, she rejected outright his findings regarding the boys’ clothing, diet and medical facilities available in the School, and she complimented Br Ourson on his management and attributed many improvements to his intervention.

7.812Fr Moore in evidence said that he called to the School every morning to say Mass. After breakfast, he returned to his parish and visited the School every afternoon for an hour or two, which he spent mostly in the recreation yard, infirmary and workshops.

7.813He was aware that Archbishop McQuaid was very unhappy with the state of affairs in Artane. He was concerned about the vastness of the Institution. Fr Moore believed that the Archbishop’s disquiet regarding Artane was motivated by a deep concern for the children. In 1962, when he was asked by the Archbishop to write a report regarding Artane, he did not feel any pressure to colour his report in line with the Archbishop’s trenchant views. In fact, the Archbishop’s opinion mirrored his own experience of Artane after two years’ working there. Fr Moore had become involved in the area of aftercare, much to the annoyance of the Brothers, he said. He worked with a youth club for former Artane boys run by the Legion of Mary, which highlighted to him the deficiencies in the provision of aftercare by the Brothers. He understood his purpose in writing the report was to present a global picture of his experience of Artane. He became aware subsequently that the Archbishop stated in correspondence with the Department of Justice that he had appointed Fr Moore to set about reforming Artane.

7.814Fr Moore visited the refectory for the purpose of his report and observed that ‘it was generally unruly. Boys sitting at tables snapping each other’s food, as it were, things like that. Pretty unruly I would have thought. Pretty crude’.

7.815He contrasted the appearance of Artane boys with their peers in the parish:

It is difficult to describe. I could use the one word, to me anyway, at the time they looked institutional. That’s a blanket sort of description but I discerned a certain difference in a boy who was institutionalised, in his pallor, in his gait, in his general appearance.

7.816He said that some of the Artane boys were most definitely undersized for their age.

7.817He stated that the boys told him that they had to pay for their overcoats and, as a result, most boys did not own one:

I would have noticed on wintry days in the schoolyard, for example, very cold, bleak area of north Dublin, it seemed to me that they were very cold and some of them had chilblains and they would have runny noses and using their sleeves to clean their noses and to me looked very cold and pretty miserable.

7.818The boys went for a walk most Sundays and, even in the depths of winter, they did not wear overcoats.

7.819He knew the Superior in St Joseph’s Industrial School, Salthill and visited him at the School. Salthill was a much smaller school than Artane but he was very impressed by the way in which Salthill was managed, ‘I thought Salthill was more civilised and more happier’.

7.820Fr Moore confirmed the evidence of a complainant who said that he had reported sexual abuse to Fr Moore when he was in Artane. The boy had confided in him that he had been sexually abused by Br Adrien who worked in the kitchen. Fr Moore had always found him to be personable and thought that he was popular with the boys. He had never experienced or heard of complaints of sexual impropriety during his own time as a pupil in St Vincent’s and this was the first time he had ever had to deal with such a matter. Fr Moore suggested that the boy go to the Superior, Br Ourson, about the matter, but he was reluctant to do so, as he felt that it would be perceived that he was telling tales on Br Adrien. Fr Moore offered to speak to Br Ourson. He immediately went to Br Ourson and told him the nature of the allegations made against Br Adrien who said that he would deal with the matter. Fr Moore also informed the Provincial, Br Mulholland, to reinforce the seriousness of the matter. Within days, Br Adrien was removed from Artane and transferred to another institution. His departure was not announced: he simply disappeared.

7.821He did receive another complaint, which he reported to Br Ourson, and the Brother was removed from the School.

7.822His observations regarding the standard of education were based on his own personal contact with the boys. He did not observe them in class or consult with teachers or the headmaster regarding their education, although he would have had informal conversations with them regarding education. Similarly, his finding regarding the medical facilities in the School was made without consultation with the local GP or the Brother in charge of the infirmary.

7.823As regards trades training, he observed:

My experience was the boys didn’t have a choice of which trade they were assigned to; wherever there was a shortage personnelwise in a trade perhaps. I don’t know the reason but they didn’t have a choice.

7.824An elderly Christian Brother was in charge of aftercare. He had to secure approximately 30 to 40 jobs per year. Most of the jobs were badly paid, menial jobs, and many of the boys were placed in positions for which they were not suited. A high proportion of boys emigrated.

7.825He was asked for his observations on the comment made by Department Inspector Mr MacDaibhid that Artane was one ‘big happy family’, and he replied that such an observation was a travesty.

7.826He had a good relationship with most of the Brothers. However:

there was a resistance to any intrusion in the affairs of the Institution of Artane by the Brothers in general. They seemed to me, autonomous in their management and they resented and resisted any interference from anybody in their work.

7.827Conditions did improve in Artane over his time there. Clothing and food improved, a swimming pool was installed and, most importantly, numbers were very much reduced. A community of nuns helped out in the School, introducing much-needed female influence. Aftercare improved with the opening of a hostel in Eccles Street by the Archbishop. Under cross-examination, he accepted that he was not aware of changes that the Brothers had initiated, such as the introduction of a remedial teacher and a psychological support service. Whenever the subject of Artane came up in conversation with the Archbishop after he had submitted his report, the Archbishop would mention the fact that he was working upon changing matters.

7.828In summary, he said:

Fundamentally I would have to say, my critique would be on the grounds of defective training in the emotional and psychological preparation for the after-life, for post-Artane days. I found boys were – they many times had an inability to negotiate everyday tasks like handling money, interpersonal relations. Now admittedly many, many of those I am talking about would have had long experience of institutional care before they came to Artane … I feel also that the environment was harsh, Dickensian and in my view extremely excessive in its administration of punishment and emotional deprivation. I think today that the many, many complainants of their bad experience of Artane would, in my view, validate everything I have said about it, and the Archbishop of Dublin.

7.829The Christian Brothers reject the conclusions drawn by Fr Moore in his report and in his evidence to the Investigation Committee. They contend that his evidence is unreliable, inaccurate and that it is contradicted by the contemporaneous Department reports and evidence from former Brothers. They submit that Fr Moore was a young, ambitious priest eager to please his Superior. He was well aware of the Archbishop’s attitude to Artane, who considered the Institution ‘the plague spot of his diocese’. They contend that Fr Moore’s report does not portray an objective analysis of Artane, but rather a biased account providing affirmation of the Archbishop’s views.

7.830The Congregation contends that Fr Moore had relatively little direct experience of day-to-day life in Artane. He did not live in the School, and therefore his observations are based on his visits to the School, which were limited to particular areas. They contend that his overall contact with the School would not enable him to come to informed conclusions on the manner in which the School was run.

7.831They cite, as an example of the shortcomings in Fr Moore’s research, his analysis of the boys’ diet. During his evidence to the Investigation Committee, it emerged that his conclusions on diet were based on one visit to the refectory, his general observations of the boys and the views of a doctor, who accompanied some of the boys on a camping trip, that they were undernourished and undersized. However, the report did not disclose the limited sources which led Fr Moore to his conclusions, but instead gave the impression that a comprehensive review and analysis of the nature and adequacy of the boys’ diet had taken place.

7.832Similarly, his conclusion regarding the low standard of education in Artane was based on illegible letters he received from former residents, and the Christian Brothers submit that such a flimsy basis for such an evaluation ‘is of no real value’. They also emphasise that Fr Moore was relatively young and inexperienced, with no teaching experience, and submit that all of these factors, when taken together, render his assessment unreliable.

7.833The Brothers in their Opening Statement on Artane said that Fr Moore was ‘both unprofessional and indiscreet in the manner in which he carried out his assignment’. Whilst he acknowledged in his covering letter to the Archbishop enclosing the report that his observations were restricted to his personal experience, he proceeded to offer his opinion on areas in which he clearly had no training or expertise. The Congregation contend that the statistics he presented were inaccurate and misleading.

7.834Similarly, his criticisms of the medical care in Artane have to be viewed in light of the fact that he had no medical training and did not discuss the matter with the GP who regularly attended the School.

7.835The Christian Brothers regard it as extraordinary that, whilst he had no difficulty in criticising the lack of experience of staff in the School, he had no doubts about his own ability to assess standards in the School, despite the fact that he had worked in the School on a part-time basis for less than two years.

7.836The Christian Brothers submit that, even where no expertise was required, Fr Moore’s report contains ‘glaring errors’. Most notable is his assertion that the boys had to pay for their own overcoats. The Investigation Committee heard evidence from a Brother who strongly rebutted this allegation, and none of the complainants who gave evidence raised it as an issue. One of the Department officials who conducted the inspection in December 1962 found that the boys had overcoats of sorts, although few wore them. The Christian Brothers submit that this glaring error must raise serious doubts over the accuracy of other aspects of the Moore report. On the other hand, the fact that an order for raincoats for all the boys had been placed in early December, prior to the surprise visit, makes it impossible to reject the evidence that boys did not have coats.

7.837The Moore report led to an unannounced two-day inspection of Artane by three Department of Education personnel. The Christian Brothers assert that this:

inspection was extremely thorough and comprehensive and that there appears to have been a genuine effort on the part of those compiling the report to present an accurate account of all aspects of life in Artane.

7.838They submit that what adds weight to the veracity of the Department reports is the fact that they criticise various aspects of the School where such criticism is warranted. The reports present an ‘honest and reliable account of a thorough inspection’, and ‘considerable weight ought to be attached to these reports’.

7.839In summary, the Christian Brothers submit that:

the Moore report was prepared on the basis of a superficial examination of the relevant circumstances by an inexperienced person who was not qualified to properly assess a number of the issues which he addressed and who probably prepared the report with the dominant purpose of confirming the Archbishop’s firmly expressed views rather than with the purpose of providing an accurate assessment of the school. In these circumstances, it is submitted that the Moore report cannot be relied on in making any findings on the state of matters in Artane at that time.

7.840The Christian Brothers submit that the evidence given by Fr Moore to the Investigation Committee copperfastens the view that his assessment of Artane is biased, inaccurate and unreliable. His evidence only serves to emphasise his limited contact with various aspects of life in Artane and his limited interaction with the Brothers. They regard as particularly significant the fact that he was completely unaware of the participation of a specialist team from the Mater Hospital in providing a psychological service for the boys in Artane before he relinquished his position as chaplain.

7.841The Brothers contend that Fr Moore’s assertion that the Archbishop was behind the initiative to introduce an Order of Sisters to the School is incorrect. They submit that contemporaneous correspondence makes it quite clear that the Brothers spearheaded this enterprise.

7.842The Congregation vigorously rebuts the claim by Fr Moore that the Brothers resisted and resented any interference in the School from outside bodies. On the contrary, it says, the Brothers actively sought the assistance of outside parties such as the Child Guidance Clinic at the Mater Hospital, the Godparents Guild and, in the mid-1960s, they employed a remedial teacher. It is submitted that the totality of the evidence demonstrates that the Christian Brothers were fully supportive of and co-operative with participation from outside parties.

7.843The Christian Brothers request that the Commission reject the findings made by Fr Moore. They conclude that he:

presented himself as a witness who had a particular insight into the workings of Artane and his position there as chaplain for seven years would, prima facie, suggest that he did have such an insight. However, an examination of his testimony, especially when viewed in the light of that of other witnesses suggests that his knowledge of Artane and of issues relevant to the care of the boys was, in fact, extremely superficial and that his recollection about a number of matters was completely incorrect.

7.844In conclusion:

  • There were limitations on Fr Moore’s capacity to prepare a comprehensive report on Artane. The areas of the School with which he was most familiar were the Chapel, the yard and the trade schools. He visited the farm from time to time, but he did not go into classes or the dormitories or the refectory. He said that he visited the refectory on one occasion and similarly with the band room. He was in the hall more often. He did not speak to the Christian Brothers to get information for his report because he felt that that would endanger the confidentiality that was required.
  • As to the question of bias, it is clear that Archbishop McQuaid was not an admirer of Artane as an institution. Fr Moore explained how, on a number of occasions, his mentor had expressed adverse views about the Industrial School. The two men kept in touch during the course of Fr Moore’s chaplaincy and his views did not surprise his superior. In the circumstances, it is reasonable to conclude that Fr Moore was unlikely to have approached his task of reporting with a sympathetic eye. But at the time when he was requested to do so, he had been there for two years and had being briefing the Archbishop on the conditions. There was nothing to suggest that Fr Moore was bending his views to meet the preconceptions of the Archbishop during the period from 1960 to 1962 before he made his report. Neither is there any evidence to warrant the conclusion that the chaplain was deliberately or subconsciously manipulating the evidence so as to produce an adverse conclusion. Fr Moore’s opinions were formed because of his observations in the two years before he was asked to furnish his report.
  • While Fr Moore’s information was inaccurate in some particulars, as the Brothers point out, the example they gave of the boys having to purchase overcoats, which they claimed ‘was clearly wrong’ and which, therefore called into question the reliability of the report in general is not borne out by an analysis of the documents.
  • Most of Fr Moore’s information came from his own observations or from the boys themselves. As to what he himself saw, the Congregation does not challenge his evidence. But on his conclusions, based on what he was told by the boys, there is major conflict. It is nonetheless the case that Fr Moore is the only person who is able to report what the boys were saying during this time, or indeed at any other time. There is no record of anybody else, either official or Christian Brother, actually talking to the boys and recording what they said. Neither is there any evidence of somebody in a position to do that because of his relationship with the boys. In other words, Fr Moore was the only person who was in a position where boys felt able to confide in him. That in itself is a significant >comment on the Institution. The fact that a witness received information from the boys in Artane, even if some of it is shown to be wrong, can scarcely be regarded as a disqualification to give evidence about the Institution in the course of an inquiry like this.
  • The Committee concluded that Fr Moore was not actuated by malicious intent or bias in regard to the Christian Brothers or to Artane. He was in a position to observe events and to form opinions, and he had valuable information to give the Committee. His report of 1962, his evidence to the Inter-Departmental Committee and his evidence to the Investigation Committee were honest attempts to describe the conditions in the Institution as Fr Moore saw them and found them and believed them to be, based on the information at his disposal.
  • This witness was uniquely qualified to comment on conditions in Artane because of his personal experience of being a child in a residential institution run by the Christian Brothers.
  • Fr Moore was a witness of integrity and accuracy, whose evidence and report were corroborated in substantial measure by other evidence, including Mr MacUaid’s findings, Mr Dunleavy’s report and convincing oral testimony of complainants and respondents.

General conclusions

7.8451.Artane used frequent and severe punishment to impose and enforce a regime of militaristic discipline. The policy of the School was rigid control by means of severe corporal punishment and fear of punishment. Such punishment was excessive and pervasive. The result of arbitrary and uncontrolled punishment was a climate of fear. All Brothers became implicated because they did not intervene or report excesses.

2.Sexual abuse of boys was a chronic problem in Artane. The documented and admitted cases show that for more than half of the 33 years under consideration there was at least one Brother in Artane who at some time engaged in sexual abuse of boys. Much more abuse occurred than is recorded in documents because of inadequate recording and reporting procedures and other causes of under-reporting. Sexual activity between boys was also common and there was a significant amount of predatory sexual behaviour by bigger boys on smaller, vulnerable ones.

3.Incidences of abuse were managed primarily with a view to protecting the Congregation and the Institution from the harm that would be done if sexual abuse by Brothers became public. This involved suppression of disclosure of abuse, failure to investigate properly and failure to report. The policy facilitated further abuse when offenders were transferred within the Congregation or permitted to leave in good standing.

4.Artane failed generally to provide for the emotional needs of the boys. At management level there was a lack of respect for the boys as individuals. One example was the humiliating practice of inspection of underwear in public.

5.The number of boys in Artane, the extreme regimentation of their lives, the lack of appropriate training of the Brothers, the insufficient numbers of staff and the pervasiveness of corporal punishment all had serious adverse effects on the welfare and emotional development of many of the children who passed through Artane. The climate of fear was a dominant memory, and practices used for management and control of the boys were frightening and abusive. It was a problem central to the whole system in Artane that the boys’ perspective was not taken into account. The Christian Brothers did not understand the impact of those practices.

6.Artane had sufficient income to provide for the boys’ physical needs but it failed to do so in many respects:

  • Accommodation was generally poor. Toilet facilities were primitive until 1953.
  • Facilities for preparing and serving food for the boys were primitive.
  • Clothing was poor, patched and institutional, and the repeated criticism by the Department Inspector was to no avail, in spite of a healthy surplus in the School accounts.

7.Artane failed to cater for either educationally backward children or for those who were brighter. No effort was made to provide secondary education for boys who were capable of benefiting from it.

8.Industrial training was a key objective of the system and the biggest industrial school should have provided a high standard, but training was only an offshoot of work that met the needs of the Institution.

9.The success of the band illustrated what the boys could accomplish with proper training and adequate resources.

10.The Brothers put considerable effort into training teams for matches with other schools and playing outdoor games, but the lack of indoor recreational facilities was a severe deprivation.

11.Aftercare for the boys’ welfare required direct contact with them but it was often conducted only with employers to establish their level of satisfaction and not to see how the boys were doing. . Aftercare was better than ex-residents were aware of and many were surprised at the level of contact maintained between the School and their employers.

12.In regard to Artane the policy pursued by the Department of Education was to defend the system and the institution over which it presided. The Department inspected and supervised perfunctorily and neglected its obligations to the children.

13.The Department of Education and the Christian Brother management did not improve or change a system that was failing. Individual Brothers with a genuine calling and desire to care for and educate disadvantaged children found themselves in an institution that forced them to use methods of control that prevented the kind of care they could have given.


Report by Ciaran Fahy (14th March 2008)

1.0 Introduction

The purpose of this report is to describe the physical surroundings of Artane Industrial School with particular reference to the buildings. It is based on research carried out by Ciaran Fahy and Neil Gillespie during the course of which all of the relevant documentation in the possession of the CICA was examined. On 2nd September 2005, Ciaran Fahy and Neil Gillespie visited Artane and met Br Michael Reynolds, Deputy Head of St Mary’s Province of the Irish Christian Brothers and also Mr Bushnell.87 Br Reynolds taught in St David’s CBS Secondary School from about 1978 to 1984 and Mr Bushnell was a pupil in Artane.

In addition to the above, Ciaran Fahy visited the Christian Brother’s archive at Cluain Mhuire on the North Circular Road and some old photographs and maps were made available by the Christian Brothers and many of these are incorporated in this report. The following documents were provided and found to be of considerable assistance:

  • – An Annual published in 1904 which was intended as a souvenir or record of the school. It was published 10 years after an earlier account appeared in the Illustrograph, a monthly illustrated paper.
  • – The Christian Brother’s Educational Record 1927, relating to Artane Industrial School. This document which was compiled in 1927, contains a good deal of helpful information in relation to the early years of the school.
  • – The Visitation Reports from 1940 to 1968. These annual reports were prepared by a senior member of the Christian Brothers who typically spent about a week in the school and reported on all aspects of its operation. These reports also focused on the Community of Brothers. The authors of them normally varied from year to year.
  • – The Annals. These were prepared on an annual basis by the Resident Manager of the school and were intended to record the most important events which took place in that year.


The report is to be read in conjunction with four appendices drawing together various maps and photographs as follows:

Appendix No 1: Maps/Drawings

This contains extracts from Ordnance Survey sheets showing the current layout taken from the Dublin Street Map as well as the layout in 1936. There is also a sketch of the main building prepared in 1944 together with a survey drawing of the same building prepared in 1990 when it was being partitioned.

Appendix No 2: Aerial Photographs

This contains two aerial photographs provided by the Christian Brothers.

Appendix No 3: Current Photographs

This contains photographs of the remaining buildings on the site taken recently. This comprises three buildings namely the main building, the Chapel and the refectory which is now used as the band school and occupied by the Artane School of Music which incorporates the well known Artane Band previously the Artane Boys Band.

Appendix No 4: Archive Photographs

This contains archive photographs provided by the Christian Brothers extending back to 1900.

2.0 Background

2.1 Location

Artane Industrial School, the largest in the State, was founded in 1870 and closed in 1969. It was located in the north eastern suburbs of Dublin, five km from the GPO in an area that was originally open countryside and which is now built up. It was located on the wester