Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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Sexual abuse


Br Dennis said that he had lied, when he was first accused, out of fear: ‘I don’t know what kind of fear it was, but it was out of some kind of fear and a sense of shame; that I didn’t want to reveal that I was a failure or something like that’.


He said that, in the Granada Institute, he had also come to an awareness of the impact of the abuse on the boys: Probably the effects that it had on them in later life, where it could have led to marriage break-up and to suicidal tendencies. That their whole life really was all messed up ... It was traumatic for me, but even though I didn’t look on it in that way, at that time I was thinking more of the victims at that particular time. But it was very traumatic for me as well. I found it very hard. There was one – I was advised to have at least one Brother that I could talk to, so I chose a Brother that I could talk to about all my misgivings and upset, and I found that that was a help to me all right, that that helped me greatly.


The Christian Brothers’ statement responding to the complainant who made allegations to the Investigation Committee stated that the allegations were not in keeping with the character of the Brother. The complainant’s allegations were expressly not admitted. The statement did not say that Br Dennis had been sent to the Granada Institute by the Congregational Superiors in the mid-1990s in respect of his activities in Artane.


Br Dennis filed two separate statements of response to the complainant’s allegations. The first was a long statement that dealt in detail with the complainant’s allegations, which were denied in full. It commenced by stating that he did not remember him or the incidents that were alleged to have occurred and ‘that the Complainant is both inaccurate and mistaken in much of his recollection’. It did not make any admission and, in the final paragraph, he said ‘I deny any allegations of abuse made against me contained in [the complainant’s] statement which is not directly or indirectly denied or referred to in this response statement’. He did not refer to the admissions that were made to the Gardaí, or to the fact that he had been sent by the Superiors of the Congregation to the Granada Institute in the mid-1990s in respect of his activity in Artane.


His second statement to the Commission was dated a few weeks after the first statement and was the standard denial of abuse, with a legalistic paragraph which stated that he was required to prove a negative in respect of events alleged to have occurred on unspecified dates over 30 years ago.


The significance of the approach taken by the Congregation and by Br Dennis is twofold: The Congregational response in this instance did not tell the whole story. It was seriously misleading because it did not reflect the Congregation’s actual knowledge of Br Dennis: the Superiors in the Congregation sent him to the Granada Institute in 1996 because of allegations from Artane. It is inconceivable that they did not also know about the previous allegations. In the course of his treatment in Granada, Br Dennis had meetings with the leadership team of the Christian Brothers and his therapists, at which he eventually opened up about his abuse. None of this is reflected in the Congregational response in which they attested to his good character. Br Dennis’s statements of response to the Commission cannot be trusted on face value. They contain assertions that he knew to be untrue and which contradicted the import of his earlier statement to the Gardaí and the Granada Institute.


The complainant confined his allegations of sexual abuse to two Brothers and spoke positively about others.


This complainant’s allegations are, at least in part, confirmed by Br Dennis’s admissions to the Gardaí. The Investigation Committee had the benefit of being able to hear the Brother’s evidence at an oral hearing but, at the time when the complaint was heard, Br Dennis had not yet given evidence and the complainant was subjected to a rigorous cross-examination by the Christian Brothers, without any reference to the information they had. If Br Dennis had not been able to attend and give evidence, valuable information would have been lost to the Inquiry.


A complainant resident in Artane during the late 1960s alleged sexual abuse by Br Etienne, which he said took place in the classroom and in the attic. He described an occasion when Br Etienne told him to stay behind in the classroom when the other boys left to go to the yard. The Brother closed the door and locked it. He went on to describe what happened: An item of furniture, to me it was either a cupboard with books or a piano or some sort of wooden structure was pulled from the wall, Br Etienne started kissing the back of my neck and ... My memories are just, well being put down, lying on my stomach; Br Etienne lying on top of me with my face sideways, kissing my neck, kissing the side of my face. I remember pain in my buttocks area, it was the pain of, like, somebody trying to enter. It ended with hot splashes on my back area, my bottom area. Then I was allowed to join the other boys in the yard.


The witness went on to say that his trousers were pulled down and his shirt lifted during this encounter. He said that Br Etienne was dressed in the usual long cassock and cummerbund and that, during the assault, he had his cassock open and his trousers down. He said that this happened a number of times in the classroom.


The complainant said that the sexual abuse also occurred in the attic of Artane: I remember being led up a stairs, it seemed to me an isolated stairs but as part of the building, the school area and the dorm area. I remember gas masks around and the attic was to me, enormous, it just seemed to go on forever. I remember a mattress and it was the same routine, but this time on a mattress.


The complainant said that this had occurred on more than one occasion. As to other memories of Br Etienne, he said: he was kind, I don’t ever remember being hit by him in class or anything like that ... He was my teacher. I don’t ever remember being actually physically smacked by him.


The witness remembered Br Etienne making contact with him when he was leaving Artane at nine years of age: I remember there was ten boys, about ten, could be more could be less, waiting in a waiting room for a minibus that was going to take us to [another Industrial School]. I remember him being sat in the waiting room and I remember him giving me a white prayer book which I took at the time, but eventually found out that on the inside it said ‘always keep our secret’.


When asked if he had any further contact with the Brother he said: I believe I had a letter from him about a year after or maybe even less, after I was in [Industrial School to which transferred], which asked me how I was getting on. The letter was actually read to me by one of the nuns, asking me how I was getting on, hope the nuns were looking after me and a p.s. again saying, ‘always keep our secret’.


The statement of the Congregation and a statement delivered by Br Etienne to the Investigation Committee denied that the complainant had been abused.

  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.
  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. 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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  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. 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.
  39. This is a pseudonym.
  40. This is a pseudonym.
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  42. 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.
  53. This is a pseudonym.
  54. This is a pseudonym.
  55. This is a pseudonym.
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  61. This is a pseudonym.
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  72. This is a pseudonym.
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  74. This is a pseudonym.
  75. This is a pseudonym.
  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.