Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 8 — Cappoquin

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Later that year, Sr Rosetta formally advised Mr Granville that, owing to extreme pressure of work both at school and community level, she had to resign as Resident Manager, and appointed Sr Callida in her place and Ms Noonan9 as co-ordinator from that date.


Sr Callida had been in charge of Group Home A since it was first set up in 1975, when she began with 17 children in care. She had no staff initially and was told to recruit her own team.


When she took over the role of Resident Manager, she said that her objectives were to give the children stability, consistency and continuity. She also hoped to concentrate on education, health and development. She moved into a room in one of the homes, Group Home A, and set up her administrative office there.


She continued as Resident Manager until the early 1990s, when she was removed following the resignation of two lay care workers and an investigation into complaints against her.


Mr Granville did not immediately appreciate the problems that were developing following Sr Callida’s appointment. Sr Callida appeared to perform her duties as Resident Manager well and took a particular interest in the children’s education.


Over the next two years, Mr Granville noted that the children seemed happy, although he was concerned at the lack of visits from social workers and the lack of contact with the children’s families.


Mr Granville carried out a General Inspection in the early 1980s. He noted that there had been staff problems but he did not specify what they were. He said that he had discussed them with the people concerned, and he attributed them to the inexperience of Sr Callida, the Resident Manager.


He concluded that Cappoquin was going through a ‘slightly chequered period in their development’ and saw no reason why ‘the present turbulence cannot be overcome and a stable path be once more achieved’.


In a letter to the Reverend Mother of the Cappoquin Community, he suggested that she bring the three Sisters in charge of the group homes together to try to formulate a unified childcare policy. He suggested that: the three religious Sisters meet weekly as a team to coordinate and cooperate in the child care practice. At the moment there are three distinct autonomous units in operation and it would be my opinion that “weak links” have been provided with an opportunity to grow, and that has not been in the interest of the child care practice.


He also recommended that a deputy be appointed to cover periods when Sr Callida was absent.


An abbreviated version of the same letter was sent to Sr Callida, Resident Manager, with a number of suggestions, including delegation of full responsibility to Sr Isabella during her absences and the holding of regular staff meetings to build up communication.


Other problems were emerging. The numbers of children in care were dropping and one of the houses was under-occupied and over-staffed, which had serious financial implications for the Congregation. In addition, the lack of any social work intervention, especially for the children committed by the Department of Health, who did not come under Mr Granville’s remit, was causing serious concerns in the Department of Education.


At around this time, however, staff in Group Home A, the group home managed by Sr Callida, were becoming increasingly alarmed at how the house was being run.


Evidence was given by three lay staff members who worked in the homes under Sr Callida’s management and two of whom made complaints at the time.


Ms Linehan10 worked in Group Home A from the early to late 1980s. She began work immediately after leaving school as a carer and, after a few years, was appointed as House Parent in Group Home A where Sr Callida was Resident Manager.

  1. Dr Anna McCabe was the Department of Education Inspector for most of the relevant period.
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  21. This is a pseudonym. Sr Lorenza later worked in St. Joseph’s Industrial School, Kilkenny. See St Joseph’s Industrial School, Kilkenny chapter.
  22. Mother Carina.
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