Br Flavio21 said that, while he was a scholastic in Upton, he often saw punishment administered. He implied that this was excessive in nature as, in the next sentence, he stated ‘while in charge of discipline in Omeath, I too punished excessively’; when asked whether the Rector, Frs Alanzo and Eduardo,22 knew about the excessive violence, he replied ‘not sure if the rector knew all the sordid details – probably not’. He identified Brs Donato and Alfonso as excessive punishers.
He was discovered by Br Alfonso to have been sexually abusing boys during his posting in Ferryhouse, where he had been transferred following his term in Upton. A letter from the Provincial to the Superior General in the mid-1960s reported the discovery, and stated that the Brother had been transferred to Kilmurry for the time being. The letter said: that there were two members of his community who had been rather indiscreet with the boys and owing to some talk there and admiratio45 he wished to have the two changed sine mora.46 One was Br Mario47 ... and went to Clonmel [Ferryhouse] at the request of Fr Alanzo ... He admitted his faults and went to Kilmurry on 19th pro tem and about the middle of January Fr Pietro48 will find suitable work for him in the office there – at Drumcondra and so will accept him with the debite cautele49 ... You will fully appreciate in such circumstances how instant action is often necessary and the changes made are a cover up in some respects.
Br Alfonso said he reported these individuals to his then Superiors, Fr Fabiano and Fr Alanzo. Fr Orsino, Provincial of the Order, was also involved in the reporting of one of these individuals. He said that, when he reported these people, he was never given any indication about whether they had any previous history of abuse: These things were not tossed around among the Superiors nor were they ever mentioned at a table at any time, they were always kept secret.
The Department of Education forwarded the letter of complaint to the Resident Manager, Fr Alanzo, for comment. He replied in a letter dated 3rd June 1959, stoutly defending the food provided in Upton: All I can say is St. Patrick’s was always outstanding and still is regarding feeding the boys well. Our friends ... did not say that our boys get sausages and eggs Sunday mornings, which they never got in Greenmount. Our boys are the admiration of all visitors, because they look so healthy. Hungry children do not look healthy.
Fr Alanzo15 twice wrote to the Reformatory and the Industrial Schools Branch of the Department of Education about the mother’s complaint. In his first letter in 1962, he spoke despairingly of her: ‘I have had more trouble from their mother than I have had from the rest of the boys’, but he does not deal with the complaints raised. His second letter to the Department, sent a month later, is revealing insofar as it conceded that cold showers were given, and suggested that bed-wetting was 99% a bad habit and the result of bad upbringing and laziness on the part of the boys, and it goes on to describe the mother as a neurotic person. Fr Alanzo failed, however, to deal with the question of whether corporal punishment was administered for bed-wetting, and, if so, whether it was the Institution’s policy. The Commission does not have any documentation suggesting that the Department followed up this issue.