A case of documented abuse was summarised in the Opening Statement by the Congregation. It involved a boy who received treatment in the infirmary following a beating by a Brother: In 1964 a Brother gave a beating to a boy, apparently for misconduct with other boys. The nature of the misconduct is unclear. There is reference to this incident in the infirmary diary for June of 1965 (sic), from which it is clear that the boy was beaten on the back and legs. There is no indication that the matter was investigated or that any action was taken against the Brother.
The 1964 infirmary diary contained an entry regarding a boy who complained of a sore back and legs. The entry simply stated: ‘got beating by Br Lionel for bad conduct with other boys. Resting’.
In evidence, Br Lionel denied that this had happened. The Brother said that he was never reprimanded for this incident and said that he had no recollection of the particular boy named in the diary. He went on to say that he had indeed severely punished another named boy for sexually interfering with three younger boys. He described the beating as follows: I had to deal with just one incident of [peer abuse] ... I literally gave the person responsible when he had admitted doing it – he admitted openly to having done this to three children and I gave him literally a hiding. I mean a hiding ... I would have slapped him on the hands, I would have slapped him on the backside. It was literally – it was something to deter him from ever doing this again ... It stands out in my mind, it was the toughest thing I ever had to deal with.
A workman witnessed this beating and reported it to the Superior, Br Ourson. According to Br Lionel, the boy was brought before the Superior, where he recounted what he had done in the presence of the Brother and the workman. The Brother then claimed the workman said, after hearing what the boy had done, ‘if I was dealing with him I would have killed him’.
Another witness, at Artane in the mid-1960s, described being hit after being accused wrongly of tearing a blanket: We heard [Br Lionel] saying “who tore this blanket?” ... I answered him and I says “we don’t know” you know. He didn’t seem to take the answer too well, you know, and he called me down ... he asked me again ... So I gave him the same answer I gave him the first time, we didn’t know who tore the blanket. He didn’t seem to take that so the next of all he gave me a blow across the head there ... with his fists. He had a bunch of keys in his hand. The mark is there on my head if you wish to feel it or if any of your friends. The mark is there, yes. My head bled. I fell to the floor that day and going down I walloped my head off one of the bed legs there. There was rows of beds like in the other dormitory. I hurt my head as well falling to the floor because I wasn’t a very strong boy in them days ... I got hearing trouble through the blow afterwards, as life went on.