Fr Flanagan made no mention of the Blake case while he was in Ireland, although his attacks against the punishment regime in Irish penal institutions which received widespread publicity. In a public lecture in Cork’s Savoy Cinema he told his audience, ‘You are the people who permit your children and the children of your communities to go into these institutions of punishment. You can do something about it’. He called Ireland’s penal institutions ‘a disgrace to the nation’ and then issued a public statement saying ‘I do not believe that a child can be reformed by lock and key and bars, or that fear can ever develop a child’s character’.8 His resolute and vociferous stand against the corporal punishment of children led him to speak out against the Glin case when he received a letter from one of his contacts in Ireland, Walter Mahon Smith.9 It stated, ‘As regards the Glin case none of the Daily papers would investigate or publish this for me’.
Mr Seán Brady TD asked the Minister for Justice, Mr Boland: whether his attention has been drawn to criticisms of the prison and Borstal systems in this country reported to have been made by Monsignor Flanagan during his recent visit and published in the Irish newspapers, and to similar criticisms made on his return to the United States which were published in the New York Press on the 17th July, 1946 and whether he has any statement to make.
Mr Boland replied: My attention has been drawn to the criticisms referred to. During his recent stay in this country Monsignor Flanagan did not see and did not ask to see any of the prisons or the Borstal institutions. I am surprised that in these circumstances an ecclesiastic of his standing should have thought it proper to describe in such offensive and intemperate language conditions about which he has no firsthand knowledge.
Mr Flanagan TD asked if the Minister was ‘... aware of the fact that Monsignor Flanagan did not make these statements without very good foundation and very good reason for them’.
Mr Brady TD asked ‘if his attention has been drawn to a statement made by Monsignor Flanagan and published in the American Press, that physical punishment, including the cat o’ nine tails, the rod, and the fist, is used in reform schools both here and in Northern Ireland’.
The Minister replied: I have a cutting from a paper which contains a statement to that effect. I was not disposed to take any notice of what Monsignor Flanagan said while he was in this country, because his statements were so exaggerated that I did not think people would attach any importance to them. When, however, on his return to America he continues to make use of statements of this kind, I feel it is time that somebody should reply ...