Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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Sexual abuse


At the Phase III hearings, Br Reynolds was not able to explain why the Gardaí had been called in the case of a layman, but had not been called in relation to sexual abuse by Brothers. He said that the reluctance to involve the Gardaí was ‘common practice right across society’.


These cases undermine the position adopted by the Congregation in relation to sexual abuse, namely that it was seen as a moral failing rather than criminal behaviour on the part of the Brother and was dealt with as such. No ambiguity existed in the case of lay offenders. To assert, as the Congregation has done, that it was ignorant of the full implications of sexual abuse of children is not consistent with its response to these lay offenders. The Congregation was aware of the criminal nature of this conduct and took swift and effective action, which makes its failure to do so in the case of its own brethren all the more difficult to excuse.


This part deals with evidence of complainant witnesses that has not been cited in the examination of documented and confirmed cases. It includes extra information from witnesses who were cited above and data from witnesses not previously discussed. This material is uncorroborated evidence from credible and reliable witnesses.


Complainants described the different kinds of abuse that they experienced.


One witness recalled how he was warned to avoid certain Brothers when he first went to Artane: There was always talk amongst the boys who to keep away from. When I went in there first, being naïve you don’t know anybody and you have boys coming to you and telling you “you watch Brother so and so, and watch Brother so and so. Don’t let him come near you or don’t let him get you into a place on your own”, things like that, like. But it only happened to me by one particular Brother, where sexual abuse took place, the rest was physical and mental abuse.


Another witness described how abuse by Br Bruce73 became progressively more severe, culminating in an attempt to commit anal rape. The witness was detained in Artane during the 1940s: ... at first it was just, he used to just take me trousers down and just stand there and make me masturbate him and things like that. But then it got a bit deeper and deeper where he would ask me to do things, which I couldn’t understand at the time. But like, he would ask me to – oral sex and things like that. Then he started bringing me, just, it is only 50 yards down into the shower rooms and in there he would bring me down, usually down the left-hand side into one of the curtain rooms at the bottom there and then on a couple of occasion he actually tried to rape me, but he never did succeed. He used to be very upset himself even afterwards, you know, what he was doing.


A witness from the 1940s described how Br Armande progressed from talking about sex to physical contact and then to masturbation: He liked to talk dirty ... So over a period of time he used to ask me “have you ever popped or ejaculated”’ and things like that. No, “I can’t”. I knew other boys could. I forget how the conversation – but the subject of circumcising came up and he said “probably that’s your problem. I will show you some time”. Over a period of time – he would press into you, he invariably wore a cloak so anybody looking from the sides couldn’t see what was going on. One incident, as I say, in the theatre, when we used to file in the theatre, at the end of every, maybe, third row was left vacant so that a Brother would sit there presumably to keep an eye on us. I happened to be in this seat and Br Armande – the seat was vacant, so I didn’t know what Brother it was going to be. I think he was either a projectionist or assisting the projectionist. Once the film started he came and sat beside me. I always remember he gave me a sweet and he started touching and petting and one thing and the other. I got to admit I was aroused. He kind of got my hand and done the same, messing.


The same witness described another occasion when sexual activity was aborted because of the arrival of another person in the dormitory: The other incident with Br Armande was the morning I was expelled from the band ... I was expelled from the band and I was told to report to the dormitory. He told me to go over to the far corner of the dormitory where the Brother’s sleeping room was. He said “lie on the bed there and take your trousers down”. He disappeared and went off down to the long hall, I suppose, to check. There I was in the bed waiting for him to come. I got to admit I was quite excited about it because I had never ejaculated and he was going to show me ... I was just coming up to 16, 15 and a half. I had heard other boys saying they had. Whatever happened, somebody must have came. The next thing I knew the door was open and he hollered “anybody in here, get out now”. I jumped up, put on my trousers, ran down and joined everybody else at the parade. That was the incident.


This witness described how a sympathetic approach by the Manager led to his divulging information about abuse: He put a friendly arm around me, drew me close to him and he said, “Tell me, what’s troubling you?” I started to cry and I blurted out all the things that happened to me and why I hated God, I hated my own parents for being weak and dying, I hated religion. “Tell me”.. So I told him about what Olivier had done and I told him about Br Armande . I told him the specific incident, general as well, but mainly what Br Olivier had done to me. I told him about the Br Armande. I would never have had the courage to go and complain to anybody because I would be terrified I would get another hiding, they wouldn’t believe me. On that occasion he was so kind that he got my confidence, he spoke to me like a father. I blurted out and told him everything.


The witness described another experience that was commonly mentioned by former residents of boys’ industrial schools. When boys were in bed, Brothers sometimes went through the dormitories checking to see whether boys had wet their beds. That was the ostensible reason why Brothers put their hands under the bedclothes but there was unease among boys at the time.


A number of complainants spoke of the requirement to sleep with their arms crossed and above the blanket, which was a rule of the Congregation. Some supervising Brothers were more diligent about enforcing this rule than others, but the object was to ensure that boys were not committing ‘badness’ during the night. One Christian Brother confirmed that he enforced the rule of sleeping with arms above the blankets but claimed that he did not know why he was doing so. He stated that he was not aware that it had any purpose of preventing self-abuse by boys.


A complainant described getting a slap on his private parts by the Brother in charge when he was not lying in the correct position.


Another described how Br Gaspard questioned him about where his hands were: He pulled the covers down slightly and got my hands like that (indicating). That is how they told us to fall asleep in bed. Then he got down on one knee, might have been two knees, and just slid his hand across my lower abdomen. Didn’t touch anything, just straight across. That was it ... There was something odd about it, obviously. It wasn’t the sort of thing you done. It’s always sort of remained with me.


A complainant resident in the 1950s alleged that, when supervising the showers, Br Verrill used to require the boys to bend over, to make sure that they were clean. He said that, on a few occasions while doing this, he used to put his hands on the boys’ testicles and say ‘did you like that?’. The complainant said that he got so used to being humiliated that he accepted it and did not regard it as unusual at the time.


Relationships between Brothers and boys were unlikely to be the subject of complaint in the same way as violent or forced incidents of abuse.

  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.
  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. 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.
  41. This is a pseudonym.
  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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  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.