The death of 9-year-old HT in the Royal British Hotel in Princess Street Edinburgh on 3rd October 1977 brought about a review of the recruitment of residential child managers and staff. HT, from the North Inner City of Dublin, was placed in the care of the Irish Sisters of Charity in Madonna House on 5th June 1974 along with a number of his siblings. HT remained in Madonna House until 1st September 1976, when his mother removed him and two of his siblings. A further sibling was removed on 24th December. The children were allowed to remain at home under the supervision of Eastern Health Board social workers. On 3rd February 1977 it was decided that HT and two of his siblings be returned to Madonna House. On the basis that the placement was now likely to be a long-term one, it was decided to transfer the children to St Kyran’s Residential Home, Rathdrum County Wicklow on 5th September 1977. One of the staff members in Madonna House was John Dwyer, originally from Wales, who had been interviewed for a post of trainee child care worker in Madonna House in September 1976, responding to an advertisement for female care assistants. Dwyer, who had spent 10 years with the De la Salle Brothers in England and had trained with them as a teacher before arriving in Ireland, commenced employment in Madonna House in September 1976. From an early stage, Dwyer took a particular interest in HT with the result that the Manager, Sr Carmel, warned him about his over-involvement with the child. Dwyer accompanied HT and a number of his siblings when they moved from Madonna House to St Kyran’s in Rathdrum. On Friday, 16th September Dwyer brought one of the siblings from St Augustine’s in Blackrock to St Kyrans. He then departed from St Kyran’s with HT. The following day, Dwyer and HT boarded a flight to London and subsequently went to Scotland. In a hotel in Edinburgh, Dwyer drowned HT in a bath and then attempted suicide, but survived.271
Mr O’Dwyer than outlined the procedures that were in operation when John Dwyer was recruited. John Dwyer was interviewed by Sister Carmel and accepted as a trainee. Within a short period of joining her staff, he was assessed by a psychologist and found to be suitable for admission to the training course at Cathal Brugha Street. The arrangements for selection in the case of trainees vary from home to home but, in general, the candidates are normally interviewed by a suitably constituted board and references obtained from their previous employers or, where they have not been previously employed, from the persons nominated by them as referees. There are no definite guidelines at the moment in relation to the assessment of trainees. Generally speaking, most of the trainees have worked in a home for two years before they are sent on the training course and during the period of two years, if they are found unsuitable, their employment is discontinued. However, in some instances, because trainees have joined a union on starting work and because appropriate procedures have not been followed, it has not been always easy for the managers of homes to terminate the employment. There is, therefore, the possibility of managers taking the easy way out and not confronting those who may not be entirely suitable.