At a conference held in the Department of Education on 30th June 1952, with Fr Pedro,7 the Resident Manager of Daingean, District Justice McCarthy and the Minister for Education and his officials present, issues relating to Daingean and Marlborough House were discussed. The minutes at one point revealed the following: Justice MacCarthy asked whether corporal punishment had often to be inflicted. Father Pedro said no. Occasionally a caning on the hand, but no more.
The Secretary and the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education continued in their efforts. They met with District Judge MacCarthy of the Children’s Court on 13th June 1955, and explained ‘that Marlborough House had been more or less condemned as a building and the question now arose as to whether a new building should be found or whether some other means of catering for boys on remand should be considered’. It was agreed ‘that Artane seemed to be the only possible potential House of Detention’, but Judge MacCarthy said that the Christian Brothers had decided that Artane should only accept ‘boys of a non-criminal type’, and so it was unlikely that they would allow Artane to be used as a place of detention.
In an internal memorandum prepared for the Minister for Justice, it was noted: We have not received any complaints about the conditions in Marlborough House. I assume, however, that the Minister will be prepared to discuss this matter with the Minister for Education and I enclose a draft reply to this effect. I propose, subject to the Minister’s approval, to speak to District Justice MacCarthy of the Children’s Court telling him that it has been suggested that the arrangements in Marlborough House should be looked into and asking him whether he has any comments to make and would be willing to sit in at any discussions.
The Assistant Secretary issued an invitation to Judge MacCarthy on 3rd May 1951, and also asked him if he had heard any criticisms about the place.
Judge MacCarthy accepted the invitation and, in a letter dated 5th May 1951, he listed his concerns about the Institution: For some considerable time past I have been very uneasy about conditions in this institution. I am only too conscious of the fact that, from time to time, particularly during the past six months, some of the boys detained there were consummate young blackguards who gave the Superintendent, and his attendants, a great deal of trouble and annoyance. Nevertheless, the repeated escapes from the Institution, and repeated allegations by the boys of ill-treatment – culminating in the incidents which gave rise to the recent prosecution in the Criminal Courts – have convinced me that the conditions under which boys are detained at Marlborough House call for immediate inquiry and amelioration. I note that you point out in your letter that the Department of Justice have not received any complaints about this institution. You would most assuredly have received them from me were I not aware that, in practice, Marlborough House comes under the supervision and care of the Department of Education, to which Department I have complained on several occasions.
It is not known whether this conference ever took place, and the Department of Justice in their Statement said: ‘The departmental files do not reveal if such a conference did take place’. In any event, the suggestion of Judge MacCarthy that District Judges undertake inspections of Marlborough House was not implemented and the lack of inspections continued until its closure.
In 1956, two boys appeared before Judge MacCarthy in the Children’s Court. The two boys, aged 11 and 12, had been remanded in Marlborough House for a week in 1956. It was reported in a number of evening papers that one of the boys during the course of the hearing told the judge: I do not like Marlborough House ... I had to march around a field bigger than the room and, if I tripped over the sticks on the ground they would make me get up and they would start hitting me with a stick.
When questioned by the Justice about the allegations he had made, the boy named two officials. Judge MacCarthy then asked for the two officials to be brought before the court. The garda in charge of the case was reported to have said, ‘I don’t imagine that the punishment was very severe’; to which the Judge responded, ‘You don’t imagine, but you were not there’.
The Judge then turned to the other boy and asked him whether he had got enough to eat in Marlborough House, to which the boy replied ‘Yes, Sir’. He then asked him whether he was punished. The boy replied that he had been punished with a stick for tripping. The officer in charge expressed his surprise that there was any punishment for boys in Marlborough House. The two were remanded on bail for 14 days, and Judge MacCarthy stated that he wanted the Superintendent of Marlborough House to be present at that time.
On 31st January 1951, an attendant at Marlborough House was convicted of indecently assaulting two boys detained in the Institution. He was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment. The complaints of sexual abuse emerged in a separate hearing concerning the two juveniles. The two boys made their complaints to Mr Justice MacCarthy in the Children’s Court. He, in turn, must have passed the information on to the proper authorities, as a successful prosecution ensued. There is no record of this in the discovery from the Department of Justice or the Department of Education.
The only reference to the affair has been outlined above in the correspondence between District Judge MacCarthy and the Assistant Secretary in the Department of Education (see para 10.060 ), and when it was raised at a meeting between the Department of Education and members of the Resident Managers’ Association.
From the documents furnished, the boys’ living quarters at the rear of the house consisted of one large room, where they ate and spent the day, and another separate room used as a dormitory. The boys lived in dreadful conditions. In 1951, Judge MacCarthy in a letter to the Department of Education referred to evidence that had come to light that ‘the blankets were not cleaned or disinfected in any way except every six years’.