Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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Sexual abuse


Br Saber stated that: I would say the best instruction we ever got was before we left the training college. Before we left the training college, we got a talk from our Superior on sexual abuse, right. The attraction of a kid – of a Brother to a young fellow, right. He would be very clear and very specific minded, be careful of it, avoid it ... Some other Brothers would say to me that it didn’t mean much to them because they never encountered it. Right? It did, it meant something to me, I can honestly say that. To most people it did. There was an outbreak in Artane previously seemingly of some Brothers being accused.


Br Gaspard stated that there was a general rule that Brothers should not be alone with boys. One of the reasons for this rule was that it provided a defence for Brothers if accused of abuse. However, he stated that this rule was not rigidly enforced. He informed the Committee that he was always conscious of the rule: I mean that I went out of my way to make sure that I never gave any, never did anything that would be sexually incorrect in my dealings with the boys in Artane.


The third and fourth Brothers were less forthcoming. One acknowledged that Brothers were given specific instructions about sexual abuse, but that it was not a priority. He said he remembered it being discussed but it was not an issue.


The four Brothers testified to having heard rumours of colleagues being asked to leave because of sexual abuse in the School. Br Michel described the rumours as follows: There was a rumour as regards sexual matters, that some years previous to our time, there were one or two men dismissed from the Congregation. Now I didn’t know them. I cannot even name them because it was so long ago, but that rumour was about, that a few men were in trouble with boys and they were actually dismissed.


Br Gaspard stated: The rumours were about ... there were a few Brothers who sexually abused boys and they were dismissed from the Congregation because of that.


A case in the early 1960s, that is documented in the records of the Department of Education, illustrated knowledge by the management of Artane about sexual activity among boys.


A former Artane boy, who was still under the supervision of the Resident Manager of Artane, was on remand in Marlborough House on a charge of indecent assault of a young girl. He had a frank conversation with the officer in charge about his sexual history and proclivities. He went on to say that he had engaged in sexual activity with three other boys on several occasions during his time in Artane.


The Superintendent notified the authorities in Artane, and the Resident Manager visited Marlborough House with a senior Brother to interview the boy. In a subsequent letter to the Department of Education, the Superintendent reported that the boy ‘admitted what he had done and gave the names of the other boys whom he committed offences with in Artane’.


An internal memorandum in the Department expressed: very grave concern and particularly so in the case of the underprivileged children who were sent to Artane by the Courts. It is also suggested that Dr McCabe enquire from the Resident Manager whether he has traced the extent of this practice in the school and what are his proposals for dealing with the situation.


The following month, Dr McCabe reported her interview with the Resident Manager of Artane. She first inquired about the boy who had at that stage been dealt with by the District Court, and she went on to ask about the three boys who had been implicated in sexual activity in Artane. She was told that ‘they have now left the school’. Dr McCabe then asked about the extent of the problem and what proposals the Resident Manager had for dealing with it. She noted: I then inquired about the supervision carried out and as far as is reasonably sensible it appears to be well done – but as the Brother intimated to me when boys are so inclined if opportunity arises and temptation is there it is very difficult to be always on the qui vive. In fact the Superior said that to have a complete supervisory system the Brothers detailed for such work would need to have no other duties but as it is now the Superior is having to teach and perform various tasks. However, he is quite well alive to such moral dangers and as far as it is possible for him will see that strict supervision is enforced. He also reminded me that there are retreats at stated intervals each year and that the Chaplain is very interested in these boys and also the Superior gives a little talk in the Chapel at prayer time.


The proceedings in the District Court were described by the Superintendent of Marlborough House in his letter to the Department: Rev Brother Leon74 was requested by Dist. Justice Price, B.L. to attend [the] Dist. Court ... and the Justice directed him, as being the legal guardian; to have arrangements made to have the boy committed to Grangegorman Mental Hospital, so that he could be subsequently transferred to Portrane Mental Hospital for treatment and the Justice further remanded [the boy] to Marlborough House until ... he was to appear at [another] Court ... ... the boy again appeared before Dist. Justice Price [at the other] Court. Brother Leon again attended the Court and stated that no arrangements were made to have [the boy] committed to a mental hospital; so the Justice let the boy out on his own bail of £10 and made an Order that he was to be of good behaviour for 12 months; when he was discharged. The mother of the boy was not in Court at any time.


The Resident Manager was inconsistent in what he told the Department of Education.


The Manager first told Dr McCabe that the three boys had left the School. On a visit to the Department, the Resident Manager ‘stated that he did not know the identity of the boys as Bro. Leon who had handled the matter had since died but that he would find out and reply later’. It is not easy to understand how the Manager could have given that information to the Department because he was, after all, present at the interview with the boy in Marlborough House when the names of the boys were given. Furthermore, the manager had previously told Dr McCabe that the three boys had left the Institution, so at that point he must have known the names. Finally, the Manager wrote in response to a formal request sent two months earlier and gave two names, adding that one of them was still in the School and that the other had been discharged the previous year.


In conclusion: The Department expressed concern about the revelation of sexual activity between boys in Artane, and asked Dr McCabe to inquire into the extent of the problem and the proposals for dealing with it. The Manager undertook to do no more than was already in place, which, by his own admission, was inadequate. The Department did not pursue the matter. The Resident Manager was inconsistent in the information he gave to the Department, indicating a lack of respect for the Government officials who raised the matter with him. This case indicated that there was a higher level of sexual activity in Artane than the authorities there were capable of dealing with. It is a matter of concern that no documentation relating to this matter survived in the records furnished by the Christian Brothers.


Br Romain75 spoke about an investigation into sexual activity among boys that occurred during his time in Artane, during the late 1960s. He said that up to a dozen boys, who were all in the same domestic economy class, had complained of being sexually abused by older boys in the School. Br Jeoffroi,76 who was a young Brother in Artane at the time, instituted an investigation. The witness said that ‘everybody knew about it’, when asked whether the pupils and staff generally knew of this investigation. Br Jeoffroi interviewed all the boys but the witness was not in a position to give further information. He did not know if boys had been punished or not – he only remembered the fact of the investigation.

  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.
  43. This is a pseudonym.
  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.
  56. This is a pseudonym.
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  60. This is a pseudonym.
  61. This is a pseudonym.
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  63. This is a pseudonym.
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  66. This is a pseudonym.
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  68. This is a pseudonym.
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  70. This is a pseudonym.
  71. This is a pseudonym.
  72. This is a pseudonym.
  73. This is a pseudonym.
  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.