In April 1990, childcare practices in Avondale came under scrutiny once again. Another childcare worker met with Sr Alicia34 and the Health Board official and outlined the difficulties in Avondale in regard to the manner in which the childcare services were being conducted there under Sr Ronja.
On 30th April 1990, in a letter addressed to Sr Alicia, Programme Manager of the South Eastern Health Board, Sr Ronja, House Parent of Avondale, tendered her resignation, having been assigned by her Superior General to a missionary post overseas.
The childcare worker gave evidence of her experience in St Joseph’s. She completed the Kilkenny childcare course in 1974/75 and obtained a contract in Avondale in St Joseph’s for a six-month period from January to July 1990. There were 11 children in the unit, and Sr Ronja was in charge. At the start of her assignment, Sr Alicia warned her that the person she would be working with was ‘quite difficult’. What transpired was that she found the systems in place in Avondale institutional and sterile, and the staff were mainly involved in cleaning, sewing and cooking, with little time devoted to the emotional needs of the children. Very little affection was demonstrated, and there was one particular child singled out for favouritism. The children told her they were beaten quite severely, and she had no reason to doubt what they were saying to her. Food was of reasonable quality but was rationed, and there was no flexibility around the portions the children were allowed. She found all this extraordinary in the 1990s.
She met with Sr Alicia and a Health Board official about her concerns in April 1990. She complained about Sr Ronja‘s management of the children in the house. There was no consultation over key decisions, and Sr Ronja was an autocratic manager. She felt that Sr Ronja resented her and perceived her as upsetting the apple cart. Children were not allowed to show any signs of independence. For example, she allowed the older children to walk to mass by themselves one day, and Sr Ronja took grave exception to this.