Br Abran,8 who was himself identified as harsh and cruel by complainants and who gave evidence before the Committee, described a flogging that he had been asked to witness in the 1960s. He recalled standing 15 feet away from the boy on the stairs on the ground floor. The boy had his hands on the steps and his nightshirt was lifted up.
Br Abran who appeared before the Committee talked about this policy of hitting children. He said that there were times when staff would have to administer punishment on an ad hoc basis: if there was a fight going on or some weapons being used or if somebody got head butted ... In many cases the boys preferred to be punished in those circumstances rather than be sent to the disciplinarian because they would be deprived of films which was more important in their life than ordinary things. I know that sounds weird, that was their mentality.
In his detailed Statement about his time at Daingean, Fr Luca told of another accusation made against a Brother in the late 1960s. He wrote: The boy made the accusation to the priest who was the Chaplain and the Chaplain said to the boy that if he didn’t mind he would call the Superior in on the matter because it needed to be looked into or, he told the boy, he could go to the Superior himself, but the Chaplain said he would have to have the boy’s permission to bring the matter up to a higher authority. The boy said he didn’t want to do it himself but didn’t mind if the Chaplain brought the Superior into it. Then we met together and went through the details of it and, in order to get the details straight, there had to be a bit of cross questioning, because you couldn’t just take the story exactly as it was told, there would be more to it than that. Eventually, he broke down and said it wasn’t true that he was asked by the bigger boys to make the accusation.
Fr Luca referred to this incident in his Statement to the Committee although, again, he did not identify Br Abran as the Brother in question: It was a different Brother to the accusation about the 14 year old. There had never been any accusations against the second Brother [Ramon] before that, at least I had never heard anything against him.
Br Abran, who gave evidence to the Committee, explained the relationship in more detail. He said: I think that was forced upon us by the boys themselves ... the boys would not allow us to use their first names. If we called boys by their first names they were beaten up by other boys because they were treated as being too familiar with the staff. In fact in the square boys would not talk to you for more than two or three minutes. They would walk up and down with you but they would have to leave after a definite period of time, otherwise they would be accused of snitching, to use their description, telling tales about somebody else and they would be beaten up when that particular person left the square.
At this point, he was asked if he was saying there was an alternative underground government in Daingean run by the boys. Br Abran replied, ‘I would say there would be to a certain extent, yes’.