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Chapter 12 — Salthill

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Sexual abuse


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.


Br Tyeis had a later meeting on the same day with the Gardaí who were endeavouring to investigate, notwithstanding the reluctance of the Murphys to press formal charges. They gave him a report of the progress of their investigation, which he noted and supplied to the Provincial.


Some months after the incident involving Tom Murphy, a Brother in the Community, Br Rique,19 was able to give some further information about Br Dacian’s time in the Dublin school, which he recorded in a note entitled ‘To Whom It May Concern’. There had been press publicity about the case, which was of great concern to the Christian Brothers and to the Murphys. When the story was published, Br Rique’s sister appeared to know more about it than he did. Her source was another relation, Patrick Walsh,20 a teacher in the Dublin school where Br Dacian had been Principal. This teacher had expressed surprise to the Brother’s sister some two years previously, on learning that Br Dacian had been appointed Principal of a primary school, because of allegations made against him in Dublin that he had molested a boy and also because of other rumours about him. Br Rique asked Mr Walsh about these allegations. He said that the Vice-Principal of that school had spoken to each of the teachers individually about the matter. One of the teachers became aware of allegations against Br Dacian, who admitted to the teacher and one boy’s mother that he had sexually abused the boy. Had he not done so, they told him, the matter would go public. Confirmation of what happened at the time appeared in a letter written by the teacher in the mid-1990s, seeking reassurance that the Brother was no longer involved with children. He wrote: A few years ago [Br Dacian] was involved in an assault of a sexual nature on a child. As a result of this he was taken out for treatment etc. This was done with the agreement of the family.


Br Dacian’s personnel card recorded a break in service of approximately 10 months between his time in the Dublin school and his appointment to the school where he abused Tom Murphy.


During this intermission, Br Dacian spent time in the Cistercian Abbey in Roscrea, the retreat centre to which he again moved when the events regarding Tom Murphy came to light. He had in fact spent time on retreat there even before this, although the circumstances of that first retreat are not known.


During his second stay in the Cistercian Abbey (after leaving the Dublin school), he was referred to a Jesuit Priest for assistance with his problems and, it would seem, for assessment on behalf of the Congregation. The senior Brother who arranged the referral included in his letter to the Priest some background information about Br Dacian: I believe his present problem may have had a bit of a history. There certainly was an incident some twenty years ago. What has happened in the intervening years I just don’t know. I just fear that there may be more than two isolated incidents separated by twenty years or more. Perhaps my fears and feelings arise from being too long in office!


The Jesuit Priest gave a reassuring opinion about Br Dacian in a letter to Br Agrican21 at Cluain Mhuire: I am confident that there is no risk of a recurrence of such an event in the near future – by which I mean over the next few years – he has had a severe shock. If the measures suggested are taken I am confident that there is no serious danger of a recurrence especially as a Director would enable him to recognise warning signs and take remedial action.


There is no record available of the measures that were suggested or of what the ‘Director’ was to do. Early 1980s – incident in Gaelteacht


Further information about Br Dacian had emerged some four months before the Murphys made their complaint about his conduct. A memorandum in the records of the Brothers contains an account of information given by a father as to Br Dacian’s offensive sexual activities with his son, Peter Brady,22 when the boy was in the Gaelteacht one summer in the mid-1980s. The matter came to light when the Principal of a Christian Brothers primary school in Dublin contacted Br Agrican and then another senior Brother, whose note recorded the information. The Principal heard the allegations from Mr Brady and thought it was important to notify the Congregation at senior level. He said that he was concerned about recommending groups of boys to go to the Gaelteacht in view of what Mr Brady had reported to him. He arranged for a meeting between Mr Brady and the senior Brother at Cluain Mhuire.

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  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.
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  33. This is a reference to the Gardaí.