Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 12 — Salthill

Show Contents

Sexual abuse


The Superior, Br Tyeis, now had the details of the complaint against Br Dacian. He went to him on the same day as he had met the Archbishop and spoken to the secretary. Br Dacian admitted that he had interfered with Tom Murphy and said that ‘the relationship’ had been going on for two years.


Br Tyeis spoke to the Vice-Principal, who confirmed the parents’ visit to him at his home on the previous Sunday. Br Tyeis met the Provincial, Br Travis,17 and reported what had happened.


Br Tyeis met the parents shortly afterwards in the Brothers’ residence. Mr Murphy was angry, and he and his wife were seeking an apology in writing from Br Dacian. They did not propose to take legal action because they feared that the publicity would not be good for their son. They were unclear as to the details of the abuse but they suspected that anal intercourse might have taken place.


The Superior talked the matter over in confidence with two Brothers in the Community, and decided that Br Dacian would have to leave the Community ‘for the present’. Br Dacian agreed and went the Cistercian Monastery in Roscrea.


The Superior reported to the Provincial that Br Dacian told him that he (Br Dacian) would have to leave the Congregation and that the Superior had responded that that might seem like the easy way out, i.e. to flee, but that there was no reason why he should have to leave. He also reported that a Brother (Br Peppin18), a friend of the Murphys who stayed with them when he was in the West, had recounted to him that the Murphys had recently said that they were suspicious that something in the nature of sexual interference was going on and that Br Dacian was involved, but Br Peppin said he had discounted the possibility.


The Provincial then visited Br Dacian in Roscrea and had a full discussion with him. There is no record of this conversation in the discovered documentation. Two weeks later, another meeting took place at Cluain Mhuire, the provincial house for the St Mary’s Province in Dublin, when Br Dacian maintained that he had nothing new to tell.


The Provincial did not meet the Murphys until some five weeks after the matter was originally reported. At this meeting with the Provincial, Br Travis, and the Superior, Br Tyeis, Mr Murphy complained about the delay, and expressed his annoyance at Br Travis’s failure to contact them. He had found it very hard to get the Provincial’s phone number. Br Travis explained that the Provincial headquarters in Marino was undergoing major renovations, which was why they had got no response from someone who could help them. He then explained that he himself had not contacted them because he had been told that Mr Murphy had stated that he did not trust the Brothers and was certain that they would want to cover up for Br Dacian and do nothing about the allegations.


Br Travis told the Murphys that he appreciated that they were very upset, as were the Brothers. They were shocked by the allegations. He said that Br Dacian was very upset. Mrs Murphy became angry at the mention of Br Dacian being upset and said that he was ‘cute and intelligent’ in the way he operated. The Provincial pointed out that he had interrupted his schedule and postponed appointments to come to the meeting and that he wanted to hear the allegations from them first hand. The Brothers questioned the Murphys about the origins of rumours in the locality and also about media coverage, following which the Provincial sought details about the complaints. The Murphys related how the matter came to their attention. They said that they still did not have an admission from Tom that Br Dacian had had anal intercourse with him, and they explained why they were suspicious that that had happened.


The Provincial expressed his concern regarding the allegations and said that he had full trust in the inquiries that the Superior was making. He said that he himself had taken the allegations most seriously and was carrying out a thorough, professional, private investigation. He said that he was aware that there was an independent inquiry being conducted by the Health Board. He could not reveal who he had been contacting, and the Murphys appreciated this. He said he wanted to get the truth regarding Tom and Br Dacian. In the light of his findings and those of the Health Board, he would take whatever action was required, ‘but we must have the truth first’.


Mr Murphy said that he and his wife wanted three things immediately and they did not want the inquiry dragging on. They were: (1) a written apology from Br Dacian; (2) an assurance that Br Dacian would not return to the area and would not be in a position to deal with children; and (3) payment for psychological and psychiatric treatment for Tom. Mr Murphy proposed to send the bills to the Brothers, mentioning that he was at that time out of pocket in the amount of £100. The Provincial reiterated that the investigation would have to move to its conclusion before these points could be considered.


Neither Brother mentioned to the Murphys that Br Dacian had admitted sexually interfering with Tom over a period of two years. Nor did they give any indication that they were aware of his past record or even that they were investigating it, although they had had ample opportunity to do so during the preceding five weeks.


The meeting as recorded in the Provincial’s memorandum was entirely directed to getting information from the family and seeking admissions from them to bolster suspicions by the Brothers that the Murphys were involved in publicising the allegations. The memorandum did not indicate any sympathy having been expressed or any expression of regret or responsibility by the Congregation for what had happened. Although the precise nature of the abuse was uncertain at that point, the essential facts had, as the Brothers knew already, been established, namely, that Br Dacian had, by his own admission, been sexually abusing the pupil over a period of two years.


Two days later, Mr Murphy had another conversation with Br Tyeis, at which he reported information that he had received from a friend in Dublin, that there was a serious complaint about Br Dacian’s involvement with a boy at a primary school where the Brother had previously been Principal. He also referred to other suspicions. The Superior elicited from Mr Murphy his evaluation of the meeting two days previously. Mr Murphy repeated that he did not want to make a formal complaint to the Gardaí. The Superior emphasised that the Brothers wished justice to be done for both Tom and Br Dacian, and that there would not be a cover-up. He commented that the investigations would take time to complete. Mr Murphy asked whether Br Dacian would be back in the School and the Superior replied that, while it was not for him to say, ‘Given the serious nature of the rumours and allegations I didn’t think that the Provincial would ask him to return’. Again, the Superior withheld the information about Br Dacian’s admissions, and treated the case as involving ‘rumours and allegations’.


The Superior recorded his general observations. He thought it was obvious that the Murphys were being tutored, but not necessarily by legal people. He claimed to have detected anxiety on the Murphys’ part about the possible revelations that might emerge from the investigations. He wondered whether a desire to claim monetary compensation might explain Mr Murphy’s unwillingness to press charges. He recommended that communities and individual Brothers in them where Br Dacian had taught should be instructed not to comment on this matter in any way. This recommendation showed that Br Tyeis was aware of how a proper investigation should proceed, namely by inquiry in the schools where Br Dacian had worked previously.


The Superior’s record of this meeting concluded with a note directed to the Provincial, in which he made three points. He referred to one of the Brothers in his Community whom he had consulted on the day that he received the complaint, and recorded that that Brother confirmed that Br Dacian frequently inquired about Tom Murphy’s attendance at school. The other points recorded a teacher’s denial that he had spoken about Br Dacian’s activities, as Mr Murphy had alleged, and the Primary School Vice-Principal’s statement that the Murphys were out to get money.

  1. This is a pseudonym.
  2. This is a pseudonym.
  3. This is a pseudonym.
  4. This is a pseudonym.
  5. This is a pseudonym.
  6. This is a pseudonym.
  7. This is a pseudonym.
  8. This is a pseudonym.
  9. This is a pseudonym.
  10. This is a pseudonym.
  11. This is a pseudonym.
  12. This is a pseudonym.
  13. This is a pseudonym.
  14. This is a pseudonym.
  15. This is a pseudonym.
  16. This is a pseudonym.
  17. This is a pseudonym.
  18. This is a pseudonym.
  19. This is a pseudonym.
  20. This is a pseudonym.
  21. This is a pseudonym.
  22. This is a pseudonym.
  23. This is a pseudonym.
  24. This is a pseudonym.
  25. This is a pseudonym.
  26. This is a pseudonym.
  27. This is a pseudonym.
  28. This is a pseudonym.
  29. This is a pseudonym.
  30. Dr Anna McCabe was the Department of Education Inspector for most of the relevant period. See the Department of Education chapter for a discussion of her role and performance.
  31. This is a pseudonym.
  32. This is a pseudonym.
  33. This is a reference to the Gardaí.