The Congregation’s concessions stopped far short of what the complainants alleged and did not even match the admissions of individual respondents. Among the latter witnesses were Brothers and former Brothers who expressed sympathy with the boys and agreed with much of their evidence, and a number of them were also prepared to admit their own failings and frustrations and to criticise the system generally. The Congregation engaged a barrister, Mr Bernard Dunleavy, to report privately on a number of institutions, including Artane. In the course of this research, some Brothers were much more candid in interviews with Mr Dunleavy than were the Brothers who appeared before the Investigation Committee.
The Congregation supplied extra material between March 2007 and June 2008, pursuant to a decision to waive legal privilege that would, if it was applicable to the documents, have protected them from disclosure. Two reports on Glin gave information on the management and structure, and they have been used in compiling this report, particularly with respect to historical data and statistics. Mr Bernard Dunleavy BL was asked to report on the archival material on Glin that was in the Provincial House, Cluain Mhuire, and he asked Brothers who had been in Glin to write memoirs of their experiences there. Following this report, Br John McCormack also researched the documentation and spoke to Brothers who were in Glin when it operated as an industrial school. The McCormack report was made available to the Committee in March 2007, and the Dunleavy report in June 2008.
Mr Dunleavy stated that, between 1947 and 1966, the reasons for admissions were as follows:
|Reason for admission||Number|
|Having a parent not a proper guardian||218|
|Not attending school||12|
|Parents unable to control child||3|
|Parent unable to support child||2|
|Being under the care of a parent with criminal habits||1|
In the course of his interviews on behalf of the congregation, Mr Dunleavy discussed the ability of Brothers to complain to their superiors about incidents or deficiencies in Artane: No Brothers interviewed recalled any means by which they could make a complaint on any matter concerning the School. Several Brothers expressed feelings of disquiet about things they had seen during their time at Artane but maintained there existed no process by which they could make their feelings of unease unknown. The absence of any proper complaints procedure for staff was mirrored in a total absence of such a procedure for pupils. If a pupil had a complaint relating to any matter within the School or concerning any Christian Brother in the School he would have to make that complaint to another Brother. Apart from the inadequacy of such a system, Brothers being interviewed recognised that such a complaints procedure was unlikely to be invoked by a pupil because of the fear of his complaint being relayed back to the Brother concerned.
Mr Dunleavy reviewed 11 cases of alleged physical abuse and found that they shared certain features: (a)In no case of an allegation of physical abuse did the School notify the Dept. of Education of the allegation. (b)In no case where the Dept. of Education became aware of an allegation of physical abuse did it insist on carrying out its own investigation, or insist that an independent investigation be carried out. (c)In all cases involving allegations of physical abuse of which the Dept. of Education became aware, the Dept. were content on each occasion for the School authorities to investigate themselves. (d)In no case involving an allegation of physical abuse could I find any evidence that either the School or the Dept. of Education dismissed or disciplined the individual involved. (e)In no case involving an allegation of physical abuse does it appear that the experience of the incident led the School to establish any safety measures or any appropriate code of practice or even a simple regulation governing the maximum force to be used against a boy, to ensure that such incidents did not recur. (f)In no case of an allegation of physical abuse, where it was clear that the Dept. of Education’s own guidelines concerning the proper procedures for the notification of an injury to a boy had not been followed, did the Dept. of Education insist on carrying out its own investigation, or insist that an independent investigation be carried out.
Even as late as 1969, it could be seen that there was no systematic way of dealing with children who were misplaced in Artane. Mr Dunleavy remarked: Equally disturbing are a collection of applications from 1969 for boys to be admitted to St. Augustine’s Special School as being mildly mentally handicapped. It transpires that in some cases psychiatric evaluations of the boys determining their handicap had been made up to two years before an application was made on their behalf to St. Augustine’s Special School.
Mr Dunleavy made the following comment about mealtimes: Apart from assembly and religious services, mealtimes were the only occasions when the whole school was present together. It seems extraordinary then that only one Brother was assigned to supervise the large refectory where up to 800 boys could be eating at once. In the course of being interviewed Brothers who had formerly worked at Artane told of leaving the door behind them open at all times so that they could escape if the situation in the refectory got out of hand. Brothers spoke of the atmosphere being “like a powder keg” and related stories of how Brothers had occasionally been assaulted by boys with knives from the dining tables. At each table of boys a senior boy was placed in charge, and it was his job to distribute the bread and tea to the other boys at the table. It was also his function, should any boy be misbehaving at the table to tell him to leave the table and stand by the wall so that he could be punished by the Brother in charge in due course.
Mr Dunleavy commented on aftercare: The provision of after care was one of the statutory requirements of the industrial school system, and the School was supposed to have some regard to the welfare of its former pupils until they attained 18 years of age. In practice both archival records and interviews with Christian Brothers who worked at Artane indicate that aftercare, such as it was, was a very hit-or-miss affair. The Brother in charge of aftercare was responsible for trying to secure full or licensed employment for the boys and then monitoring their progress, usually for two years. In practice employers made representations to the Brother responsible for aftercare and if they were considered suitable, boys were assigned to work for them. Boys were often left unmonitored in their new positions and the only information the school had in relation to them was that provided by the boys themselves should they choose to write to the School during the early course of their employment. The low priority with which aftercare was regarded is indicated by the fact that of the two Brothers who were in charge for many years, Br. Colbert was quite an elderly man while Br. Leon was known to be an extreme eccentric, and neither man was even provided with the services of a motor car to attempt to visit the boys who were to be found in employment throughout the country.
In his report on Letterfrack for the Congregation, Mr Bernard Dunleavy was very critical of the practice of taking very young children into the School. He quoted a Christian Brothers’ document: The official capacity of the school was 172 pupils. Children who were committed to the school were age 6 to 16 years. That continued to be the case until 1950 when it was perceived by the Christian Brothers that falling numbers in those being admitted to the school would eventually lead to a diminution in the total numbers at the school. In the light of this the Brother Superior, Br Nicolas,56 decided to accept a group of children below the minimum age level, the youngest being a mere 4 and a half years old.
Mr Dunleavy went on to say: These children were accepted from a County Home, though there is no record of which Home they were accepted from. It is clear that not only was the admission of pupils to Letterfrack not properly monitored, but also that in an effort to maintain the numbers at the school the Christian Brothers were prepared to accept pupils who were far too young to be properly cared for by an institution such as Letterfrack.
The Children Act, 1908 specified that children committed to an industrial school remained up to the age of 18 under the supervision of the managers of the School. Children who were returned to parents or relatives no longer remained the responsibility of the Resident Manager. In the case of Letterfrack, therefore, over a 34-year period, the numbers for whom aftercare was required were relatively small – they averaged out at between nine and 10 per year. While in Artane and Glin a Brother undertook the work of visiting former pupils on a regular basis, in Letterfrack the position appears to have been that the Superior assumed the responsibility for aftercare, as there was no particular member of staff assigned to this task. The system was that application was made to the School by tradesmen or farmers who, if deemed suitable, would be assigned a boy for employment. The School did not actively seek employment for the boys. This would explain why the vast majority of boys ended up as farm workers, houseboys, or hotel staff. This was confirmed by ex-staff members in their interviews with Mr Bernard Dunleavy, who identified the lack of a dedicated staff member to look after past pupils as a serious flaw in the system.