The need expressed earlier, for new methods and a change of management for the reformatory schools system, also seems to have been shelved. A memorandum dated 25th July 1940 contained a note of resignation about how things were going. The Department official wrote: ... Father Ricardo3 informs us that his Provincial Council has decided to appoint Father Neron4 as Manager of the Reformatory at Daingean, and it is necessary to consider what reply should be sent to this. We do not know if Father Neron has any experience of the work of a Reformatory or similar institution, or what special qualifications he has for the position. At the same time, I fear it might merely annoy the Oblate Authorities to raise any questions regarding the appointment they have made, and I suggest that we merely say in reply that the appointment is noted.
Fr Ricardo25 was present in the School for two periods during the 1970s and 1980s. He gave evidence to the Committee, and he also did not see anything inappropriate about Mr Garnier’s access. He said: He used to play a lot of cards, particularly Friday evening and he would help Br Leone in playing cards, that basically was his job. Sometimes he would lock up the unit or come up with Br Leone and he might come up to the dormitory but generally he would go off then before Br Leone would turn the lights out. And I think Br Leone would have seen Mr Garnier, or [Christian name], as I would have known him, as some kind of a help, to help him to get the boys to bed.
Mr Tablis was another outsider who worked in Clonmel and who had easy access to the boys in Ferryhouse. He does not seem to have had quite the same access to the dormitories as Mr Garnier had, but there are allegations against him in respect of sexual impropriety. Mr Tablis was a friend of Fr Lucio, the Resident Manager before Fr Stefano. Fr Ricardo described the situation as he recalled it: Mr Tablis , to my understanding, again was involved with [local club] and they used to bring the boys to ... a daily outing, where they would collect them in the cars and bring them to ... Mr Tablis would call alright, but I think he was a friend of Fr Lucio’s, he got to know the boys, but I think it was more got to do with the ... He wouldn’t be playing cards so much, I wouldn’t recall him being up in through the school generally.
Fr Ricardo gave evidence to the Investigation Committee. He was asked what improvements he saw in Ferryhouse when he returned in the mid-1980s following a time of absence. He said: At that time there were huge, I think, changes. No.1, lay staff – I know lay staff had come in on the scene. One thing I do remember when the first lay staff came – like before they came, the boys would be quite boisterous. I remember the Community having a long discussion shortly after lay female staff came, how the boys had mellowed or softened in general. That to me was one of the huge changes or factors. Also staff were being trained as well, because the Waterford Regional College had set up a training course ...
In the discovery from the Department of Education, an interesting document emerged in correspondence written after a deputation from Daingean had gone to see the Minister for Education. During the war, large numbers of boys had been sent to Daingean, filling the School to its capacity of 250 boys. When the war ended, numbers began to fall dramatically and, on 2nd March 1950, Fr Ricardo, Superior General of the Oblate Congregation, and Fr Pedro, Resident Manager of Daingean, met with the Minister for Education and his team to discuss the problem of reduced numbers in Daingean. The Oblates made the following points: 1.The chances of a boy’s reform are in inverse proportion to the number of chances given to the boy by the District Justice. Every new offence contributes to habit, and boys are now under the impression they have a right to be let off three times under the First Offenders Act. They wanted the Department of Justice to be brought into discussions to make the District Justice aware of an agreed plan, and make him “inclined to commit the boys for a period that would suit the course”. 2.The falling numbers meant falling income under the capitation system. They wanted a grant on a sliding scale once the numbers fell below 200. 3.Father Ricardo stated he would like to be able to appoint a special priest to deal with the children during their recreation period. 4.Father Pedro stated that the two-year period of detention is scarcely long enough to train boys properly in preparation for trades.