Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 15 — Daingean

Show Contents

Sexual abuse


Br Ramon had worked in a hostel for homeless emigrants in London. He was employed as an assistant. According to Fr Benicio, the Director of the hostel, Declan Rafferty,23 reported that he had had concerns about Br Ramon: He said he wasn’t happy about the way [Ramon] related to the residents – he either liked them or he didn’t like them, there was no in-between. Twice it was brought to his attention that [Ramon] was in the rooms of residents after 1.00 am when they should have been asleep. He tackled him about this. He became particularly friendly with younger boys when they came. [Declan] had no concrete evidence of inappropriate behaviour but felt he was unsuitable to be working with young people. He said he told [Pierre]24 at the time that he should not be sent to a place where there were young people.


On foot of the rumour that he had been removed from a previous posting for inappropriate behaviour, it was decided that senior Oblates would enquire from Fr Luca about Br Ramon’s time in Daingean, and this is dealt with below.


Br Ramon left Daingean in the early 1970s, and he wrote a letter of protest about his transfer to a Scholasticate: For close on 20 years I have devoted my life to helping in my own humble way the unfortunant boys that passed through St Conleths, it is a way of life that I have grown to love and I find it difficult to believe it has come to an end. My involvement with the boys in our care is now, as it has always been. Total ... I do however find it difficult to understand my new role ... I would like to think that you would reconsider my obedience, If after giving it a fair trail I am still not happy.


Four years later, he moved to a hostel for homeless emigrants in London, for a period of 10 years, before going to a college in Wales where he remained for six years. He was appointed as a Housemaster there.


Fr Luca, who was then Provincial of the Congregation, wrote to him, just before his appointment as Housemaster to the boys’ dormitory, recommending that this new appointment would be less onerous than his work at the hostel, which he was clearly finding challenging. It was here that his behaviour led to his being found guilty of indecently assaulting 10 boys.


He would have done well to heed the warning and timely advice that Fr Luca sent him in a letter just after his appointment to the post: It is an Apostolate where example and kindness will do a lot to help these young ment to grow up as loyal members of the Church and good citizens. Many of them are very clever and from good upright familites . They expect a high standard from us and we have the obligation to respond to that expectation in a positive way. Like all youth they will judge us and pay attention to us not merely from our words but how these words are backed up with authentic living of our gospel message.


Some witnesses appearing before the Committee gave evidence that this Brother had sexually abused them during his 17 years in Daingean. In its response to these complainants, the Congregation made no reference to the fact that Br Ramon had been convicted of serious offences against young boys in Wales, but simply averred that the Brother was now deceased. The Congregation cross-examined complainants on the minutiae of their allegations, and was dismissive of any allegation that was inconsistent or mistaken in even unimportant detail. One witness said: Br. Ramon, he used to work in the bakery. There was one morning I was sent over to get the bread to put it out for the breakfast. I went over and he was there and he started tickling me and messing about, that kind of thing. Then he opened my trousers and put his hand in ... and he touched me. I was pushing him away, trying to get away from him and he grabbed me by the hand and he tried to force my hand onto his private part. I managed to struggle and then he just let it go at that. I got the bread and brought it back over to the recreation room ...


He was then asked if it had happened again: Oh yeah, masturbating about five or six times after that. He would give me brylcreme, sweets, toothpaste, toothbrushes and things like that ... where I was working in the kitchen. He started groping me again and then I gave in, I masturbated him about probably four to six times.


He was asked why he had not told the Gardaí about this abuse when making a statement to them, or why it had not been included in the statement made for his solicitor. He replied, ‘I didn’t want to tell anyone. I felt like I was giving something for something’. He said he felt like ‘A rent person’.


Various inconsistencies were pointed out, such as the fact that Br Ramon did not have duties in the bakery. However, the witness was adamant he had not got the identification of the person wrong, and said that Br Ramon was often in the bakery. The Congregation made no reference to Br Ramon’s conviction, and treated the witness with incredulity and disbelief.


Another witness told the Committee that, although he personally had no experiences of a sexual nature with Br Ramon, he recalled that the Brother had a nickname ‘Br. Sexpert Ramon’.


Another witness told the Committee, ‘There was five or six Brothers that did abuse kids’, and he named Br Ramon as one of these: ‘Br. Ramon was an evil man’. He added, ‘There were other good Brothers there, they weren’t all paedophiles’.


He was then questioned about his allegations. He insisted, ‘Br. Ramon tried to abuse me. I took the beatings rather than let them abuse me ... He got a hold of you and he groped you. I never let him go all the way with me, if you know what I mean’. Under cross-examination he added: You would be in a room and he grab you by the private parts and pull you into it and he tried to grope you ... I would knock him away and take a slap.


The cross-examination ended with a simple statement: I don’t have any more questions. I should just point out, as I have done, that the Brothers concerned are dead. Br. Ramon is long time dead ...


One complainant was asked whether he or anybody else had been shown kindness or fairness. He replied that he had never received any kindness, but identified the boys who worked for Br Ramon in the laundry as receiving special treatment: Maybe to one or two of the people that was working in the laundry. Br. Ramon was over the laundry and if you said anything to any of the boys that worked in the laundry Br. Ramon would give you a hiding for it because he didn’t like his boys to be abused or given out.

  1. This is the English version of Tomás O Deirg.
  2. This is a pseudonym.
  3. This is a pseudonym.
  4. This is a pseudonym.
  5. This is a pseudonym.
  6. This is the Irish version of Sugrue.
  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 the Irish version of Richard Crowe.
  17. This is the English version of Mr MacConchradha.
  18. Allegations of brutal beatings in Court Lees Approved School were made in a letter to The Guardian, and this led to an investigation which reported in 1967 (see Administration of Punishment at Court Lees Approved School (Cmnd 3367, HMSO)) – Known as ‘The Gibbens Report’, it found many of the allegations proven, and in particular that canings of excessive severity did take place on certain occasions, breaking the regulation that caning on the buttocks should be through normal clothing. Some boys had been caned wearing pyjamas. Following this finding, the School was summarily closed down.
  19. This is a pseudonym.
  20. This is the English version of Ó Síochfhradha.
  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 was Br Abran.
  27. Organisation that offers therapy to priests and other religious who have developed sexual or drink problems run by The Servants of the Paraclete.
  28. This is a pseudonym.
  29. This is a pseudonym.
  30. This is a pseudonym.
  31. This is a pseudonym.
  32. This is a pseudonym.
  33. This is a pseudonym.
  34. This is a pseudonym.
  35. Board of Works.
  36. Bread and butter.
  37. Board of Works.
  38. Patrick Clancy, ‘Education Policy’, in Suzanne Quinn, Patricia Kennedy, Anne Matthews, Gabriel Kiely (eds), Contemporary Irish Social Policy (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2005), p 79.
  39. This is a pseudonym.