Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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Sexual abuse


Br Platt, who was in charge of the infirmary in Artane, voluntarily confessed to the Superior that he had ‘abused a boy and acted immodestly with him’. The Superior referred the matter to the Provincial Council, and the case was considered by both the Provincial Council and the General Council. The Superior General wrote to the Provincial, saying that he had interviewed the offending Brother in August 1932 and ‘told him of the risk we ran in retaining him in the Congregation’. He was given one day to consider applying for a dispensation from perpetual vows or stand trial within the Congregation. The following day, Br Platt appeared before the General Council and informed it of his decision not to apply for a dispensation. His expulsion was then considered and a vote was taken on the issue. The Council unanimously voted in favour of his retention in the Congregation rather than expulsion. He was given a Canonical Warning and the daily recital of the Miserere as a penance and was ‘sent back to Baldoyle’. The Council noted that he was very repentant.


It appears that there was reluctance at a high level within the Congregation to expel this Brother, despite their awareness of the danger he posed. The Superior General was very worried about the situation, because he wrote in a letter to the Provincial on 19th August 1932 that he considered him to be ‘a great danger to us’ and also considered it a ‘risk’ to retain him in the Congregation. He even cited cases where two Brothers had been hanged in Canada for ‘murder of their victims after such offence’: He is a great danger to us. Two Brothers were hanged in Canada within the past two years for murder of their victims after such offence. A Brother of a community in charge of an Industrial school in Rome awaits his trial for the murder of a boy in the school who told of his offence to his Superior. The school is closed and the community disbanded.


No consideration was given to the child who had been abused. In fact, the Brother could not even recall his exact name. There was no record of the boy being spoken to.


Notwithstanding the concern of the Provincialate, this Brother was assigned to Glin Industrial School in the late 1930s and remained there for seven years.


This Brother refused to seek a dispensation from his vows and the Congregation unanimously agreed not to take action. This case shows that the Congregation knew, as early as 1932, of the recidivist nature of these offenders. His description as a ‘danger’ and a ‘risk’ to the Congregation illustrates a clear understanding of this man’s propensity to re-offend, but it is noteworthy that the ‘great danger’ was to the Congregation and not to the boys.


The second recorded account of sexual abuse by a Brother who served in Artane concerns Br Herve, who was sent there in the late 1930s with a history of sexual abuse in a previous school in the south of the country, and who worked there on administrative duties until his retirement some seven years later. He came to Artane following a short stay in an institution to which he had been moved as a matter of urgency. In the school in which he was a teacher, Br Herve was accused of having ‘kissed, fondled, embraced and meddled with boys in his class’ and he admitted that the charges were ‘substantially true’. Br Herve’s Superior was aware of his activities for at least four years. The Superior was not alone in his knowledge, because, as the correspondence discloses, boys in the School, some parents, the Dean of the diocese, local clergy and even visiting priests conducting Missions were aware of the Brother’s behaviour, in addition to some members of the public.


The problem presented by Br Herve’s conduct in his school came to a head in early 1938, when the Superior expelled two boys for immorality, following an investigation that he said he carried out reluctantly. ‘Why I moved in the case of the boys ... at all was because two mothers – Doctors’ wives asked me to investigate certain bad conduct and of course language going on in a certain class’.


One mother, whose boy was expelled, tried to get him reinstated and consulted a local solicitor, who was unsympathetic and called to see the Superior and told him that what he did ‘was quite right and that he would not touch the case’.


The boy’s mother had more success in enlisting the support of the Dean of the Parish than with the solicitor. In February 1938, the Dean called on the Superior of the School and asked that Br Herve be ‘removed at once on grounds of immorality’. The Dean stated that Br Herve ‘kisses, fondles, embraces and indeed fiddles or meddles with the boys’ and that this ‘has been going on for the past five years’. The Dean said that Br Herve’s activities had been brought up at the last Mission in the parish, when a number of parents asked the Missioner for advice as to what to do. He had recommended that they report the matter to the Superior of the College, but the parents refused, ‘not wishing to get the Brother concerned into trouble’. The Dean was reluctant to get involved; indeed, he specifically asked the Superior not to ‘drag him into it’ but was just asking him to transfer Br Herve from the School.


The Superior had known about Br Herve for years, as he informed the Provincial: During the past few years I spoke to Br Herve about these matters, while last September I called him into the Office and abused him and rated him roundly for his kissing of the boys and his fondling of them. On that occasion he promised to give it up for good.


The Superior did not tell the Dean that Br Herve had a history of misconduct with boys: ‘In speaking to the Dean I did not pretend to know such a thing existed at all’.


The Superior told the Provincial that in his view the matter had come to light out of ‘a woman’s revenge’, but he accepted that ‘Quite apart from this it appears that Br Herve is guilty’. He suggested that, if the Provincial investigated the matter, he should do so discreetly and not come to the School during school hours. The Provincial dispatched one of his Consultors who stayed in a hotel so that ‘the investigation could be carried out quietly’. This Brother recorded that Br Herve: admitted that the charges were substantially true. He did kiss and fondle boys, but always (a) openly, (b) when others were present, and never in a gross manner. It was not alleged by anyone that there was gross immorality at any time.


Because he had admitted his guilt, the Br Consultor did not feel that it was necessary to investigate the matter further, which saved him the ‘disagreeable duty’ of seeing those who had made the charges, and saved Br Herve and the School ’from talk that would arise if an investigation were to be made by me’. He recommended Br Herve’s immediate removal because: His actions are a constant source of talk and criticism among the boys and their parents. It may be taken for granted that he is much talked of [in the area] and being one who is loose in morals, and one who should not have charge of boys.


The Provincial took immediate action and ordered that Br Herve be transferred. He wrote to Br Herve notifying him and also referring to the impact of his abusive activities on the Congregation and on the boys who were abused: By indulging in such improprieties you have scandalised your pupils, given rise to a good deal of unsavoury gossip among them and their parents, done grave injury to the reputation of the College, brought discredit on yourself, and, I greatly fear lowered the Brothers in the estimation of a big section of the public. May God grant that the consequences are not worse. Every Christian Brother is bound by his Rule as well as by the laws of charity and justice to do all in his power to safeguard the virtue of his pupils and to assist them as far as he can to preserve their innocence if they have not already lost it. You[r] conduct was well calculated to rob them of this precious treasure of innocence. What greater wrong could you do them? You cannot reasonably make the plea that you did not realise the gravity of your offence.


The Provincial gave Br Herve a Canonical Warning pursuant to Constitution 218 and a ‘serious warning that a repetition of any of the faults with which you are now charged will render you liable to expulsion from the Congregation’. He told Br Herve to make a determined effort to combat his ‘immoderate tendency to softness in dealing with your pupils and to think seriously over the grave spiritual harm your actions inflict on both them and yourself’. He also stated that, ‘May God grant that the consequences are not worse’. He transferred Br Herve as soon as possible pursuant to the rules of the Congregation.

  1. Report on Artane Industrial School for the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse by Ciaran Fahy, Consulting Engineer (see Appendix 1).
  2. Rules and Regulations of Industrial Schools 1885.
  3. Commission of Inquiry into the Reformatory and Industrial School System 1934-1936 chaired by Justice Cussen.
  4. Dr McQuaid and Fr Henry Moore.
  5. This is a pseudonym.
  6. This is a pseudonym. See also the Tralee chapter.
  7. This is a pseudonym.
  8. This is a pseudonym.
  9. Br Beaufort had previously also worked in Carriglea in the early 1930s.
  10. This is a pseudonym.
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  12. This is a pseudonym.
  13. This is a pseudonym.
  14. This is a pseudonym.
  15. This is a pseudonym. See also the Carriglea chapter.
  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. From the infirmary register it appears that while the boy was not confined in hospital he was due for a check up the day his mother called to see the superior so he may well not have been in the Institution when his mother called.
  24. Dr Anna McCabe was the Department of Education Inspector for most of the relevant period.
  25. It was in fact the Minister for Education who used those words. See paragraph 7.117 .
  26. This is a pseudonym.
  27. This is a pseudonym.
  28. This is a pseudonym.
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  34. This is a pseudonym.
  35. This is a pseudonym.
  36. The same incident is referred to in the Department’s inspection into the matter as ‘a shaking’.
  37. This is a pseudonym.
  38. This is a pseudonym.
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  44. This is a pseudonym.
  45. This is a pseudonym.
  46. This is a pseudonym.
  47. This is a pseudonym.
  48. This is a pseudonym.
  49. Dr Anna McCabe (Medical Inspector), Mr Seamus Mac Uaid (Higher Executive Officer) and Mr MacDáibhid (Assistant Principal Officer and Inspector in Charge of Industrial Schools).
  50. This is a pseudonym.
  51. This is a pseudonym.
  52. This is a pseudonym.
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  76. This is a pseudonym.
  77. This is a pseudonym.
  78. This is a pseudonym.
  79. See General Chapter on the Christian Brothers at para ???.
  80. He went there after many years in Artane.
  81. Dr Charles Lysaght was commissioned by the Department of Education to conduct general and medical inspections of the industrial and reformatory schools in 1966 in the absence of a replacement for Dr McCabe since her retirement the previous year. He inspected Artane on 8th September 1966.
  82. See Department of Education and Science Chapter, One-off Inspections.
  83. The fact that they were tired is noted in many Visitation Reports.
  84. Council for Education, Recruitment and Training.
  85. This is a pseudonym.
  86. This is a pseudonym.
  87. This is a pseudonym.