Tag Archives: Irish SOCA

Ireland’s Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Report Volume One Part One Chapters 1-5

Here Atheist Militants Rising shares the five volumes of the Ireland’s Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse reports. Each volume are huge so I am also going to break them down to more managable sections.

This section desribes the commission, it’s purposes and gives us who the major scumbags were who harmed children and some of the victims organizations exposing this and seeking justice for the victims


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,


  1. 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.

Each and every one of these offenders should be put into the Judas Chari, as they were all Judases to us whom they raped, tortured, beat, and out murdered.


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.

Each of these scumbag pedophiles who raped us in the ass? Should have a Pope’s Pear shoved up their asses and opened.

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.

Then? All of them, from their Pedophile Pimp Popes, Cardinals, Bishops and Archbishops who protected the pedophiles? Should all be drawn and quartered, beheaded and their fucking heads put on pikes in fromt of the Vatican with the message

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).